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De Lacey Mary Shelley's Frankenstein

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  1. The judgmental nature of human beings
  2. Distinguishing factors between De Lacey and the rest of the novel's characters
  3. The function of De Lacey's character

In a disconcertingly candid manner, Mary Shelley's Frankenstein offers its readers a sensible critique on the callous superficiality of human social interaction. Shelley imaginatively introduces a repugnant, yet kindhearted monster into the world of man, who is only to be received, and understandably so, with violent rejection and absolute contempt. Even the monster himself cannot bear the sight of his own physical appearance and his repulsive exterior accounts entirely for his exclusion from social relations. There is, however, one sole person in the novel whose blind eyes manage to look beyond the hideousness of the monster and treat him as an equal, and that is the old man De Lacey. This maverick character helps to illustrate the judgmental nature of human beings since his actions are not influenced by appearances and by doing so he reinforces the theme of superficiality that Shelley persistently ascribes to the rest of the characters in the book. Every character besides old man De Lacey is not even able to choose to look past the monster's appearance, despite his greatest efforts to make them, and this suggests that being visually judgmental is part of who we are as human beings; we cannot willingly prevent ourselves from being utterly shallow. De Lacey is exceptional as his symbolic blindness allows him to transcend the human superficiality that Shelley presents, while at the same time reinforcing its significant impact on social interaction and acceptance.

[...] De Lacey goes on to tell him that will afford me true pleasure to be in any way serviceable to a human creature? (91). His reference to the monster as a ?human creature' indicates a solitary instance in the story where the monster experiences both social equality and reception, since he is perceived to be just the same as everyone else. Thus, the old man's initial generosity shows us yet again how appearances, or lack thereof in this case, can greatly affect the manner in which one person treats another. [...]

[...] Thus, De Lacey acts as a lens through which we are able to perceive the monster as being none other than a creature animated with life. Only through De Lacey's point of view can we see the true nature of the monster's character, and this is vital in establishing our understanding and acceptance of the monster. Without this lens, we would fail to substantiate the claim that the monster truly was created as an equal, well-meaning being, and therefore De Lacey's perspective helps encourage the reader to identify, sympathize, and empathize with the poor beast. [...]

[...] The monster's first observance of De Lacey occurred as the old man took up a guitar and ?began to play, and to produce sounds, sweeter than the voice of the thrush or the nightingale.? The monster goes on to depict this scene to Frankenstein as a ?lovely sight, even to me, poor wretch! Who had never beheld aught beautiful before? (72). Thus, De Lacey is portrayed by the monster as the first creature to introduce him to beauty in this world, and he is therefore portrayed to the reader as a venerable person. [...]

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