In course of their lives, humans experience various needs that have to be fulfilled to lead a contented life. But the preference given to their needs by human differs from one need to another. According to Abraham Maslow, humans have five levels of needs: physiological, safety, social, esteem, and self- actualizing. He argued that lower level needs of the hierarchy have to be satisfied before the other higher needs come into the picture. After placing one need after another, he placed the need of self-actualization above all other human needs.
Self- actualization refers to the need of the human being to realize his / her true potential and capabilities. The novel Frankenstein by Mary Shelley depicts the efforts of a scientist to achieve self-actualization. In this paper we discuss how Frankenstein never became self-actualized by focusing on the needs mentioned in Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. Instead of accepting his responsibility towards his creation, Frankenstein shuns his creation and thereby fails to control the devastating consequences of his experiment.
Victor Frankenstein Frankenstein was a scientist who was fascinated with the thought of creating life. He worked hard to achieve his aim of creating life. Frankenstein succeeds in his aim when he creates a human, but he is utterly disappointed when sees the outcome of his experiment. When the live human emerges from the machine his monster like appearance makes Victor to abhor his creation. “When I thought of him, I gnashed my teeth, my eyes became inflamed, and I ardently wished to extinguish that life which I had so thoughtlessly made.
” (Shelly 47). The major need, which is fulfilled through self actualization, according to Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs is the realization of one’s true potential. Frankenstein fails to achieve the fulfillment of this need. Instead of realizing his capabilities, he is pained by the fact that he has created such a repulsive being. “I had gazed on him while unfinished; he was ugly then, but when those muscles and joints were rendered capable of motion, it became a thing such as even Dante could not have conceived. ” (Shelley 29).
In the process of self-actualization, when the person realizes his/her potential, he/she is pleased with his/her success. But Frankenstein is dejected with his success, for though he succeeded in creating a human being, his creation was in contrast to his expectations. According to Maslow, the process of self-actualization provides a meaning to an individual’s life. The capabilities are already present in the human and he/ she is only making optimum use of those capabilities to realize his/her true potential. A self-actualization person will not lose any of his/her traits.
“I think of the self-actualizing man not as an ordinary man with something added, but rather as the ordinary man with nothing taken away. ” (Maslow 91). But Frankenstein’s success in his experiment fails to provide meaning to his life. On the other hand, it ruins his life and causes him great distress. Victor Frankenstein had conducted the experiment because he believed that he had the potential to create life. But the realization of his potential worries him, making him an anxious and restless person. “My heart palpitated in the sickness of fear, and I hurried on with irregular steps, not daring to look about me.
” (Shelley 29). The state of mind of Frankenstein is far different from the serene mind of a self-actualized person. A self actualized person is contented with his life and finds joy in his/her growth. The peace that a self-actualized person experiences when he/she is progress in his/her life with the aid of his/her abilities is missing from Frankenstein’s life. Instead of progressing in his life, he finds his life in ruins. Another action of Frankenstein which suggests that he never became self- actualized is his abandonment of his creation.
When he realizes that the living being created by him is an ugly monster, he deserts him. As he had created the monster, it was his responsibility to look after his monster but he fails to discharge this responsibility. And it is Frankenstein’s desertion of his creation that leads to ruinous consequences. “Frankenstein’s brilliance created a new organism-his abandonment, however, created a monster. ” (Shackleford). A self-actualized person is responsible towards his/her actions but Frankenstein’s behavior defies this notion.
Another trait that shows that Frankenstein was not a self-actualizing man is his failure to solve the problem created by him. A self-actualizing man is efficient in solving problems, as he/she accepts the reality and behaves according to it. Frankenstein rejoices when he sees that the monster is not present in his room. “I could hardly believe that so great a good fortune could have befallen me, but when I came assured that my enemy had indeed fled, I clapped my hands for joy and ran to Clerval. ” (Shelley 30).
He is relieved that the monster has fled and he was saved from solving the problem created by him. From all these traits, it is obvious that Frankenstein never became self-actualized. Works Cited Maslow, Abraham. Dominance, Self-esteem, Self-actualization: Germinal Papers of A. H. Maslow. Brooks/Cole Pub. Co. 1973. Shelley, Mary. Frankenstein. Digireads. com Publishing. 2005. Shackleford, Rusty. Analyzing Human Nature by Looking at Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. 17 April 2008. 16 December 2008. http://www. associatedcontent. com/article/714043/analyzing_human_nature_by_ looking_at. html? page=1&cat=38Sample Essay of RushEssay.com