Humans are social beings, and we require interaction to learn, grow, and be happy. What happens when we are isolated from others? The novel, Frankenstein, by Mary Shelley, depicts the detrimental effects that solitude can have on people. The two main characters, Victor Frankenstein – the scientist – and his creature, both experience the effects of solitude; Frankenstein struggles to uphold the relationships he has because he is consumed by his experiment, and the creature is an outsider who is alone and longs for companionship. Their lack of social integration drives them both to become monsters, eventually leading to their demises. Throughout the novel, Shelley uses the characters’ storylines to touch on the importance of social interaction in education, relationships, and science. Shelley’s critique on solidarity is important to consider today, for we live in a world where we are experiencing a growing attachment to technology and scientific discovery, which is shifting our society towards being less social.

Victor Frankenstein’s experiment is a tale of isolation leading to negative consequences that affected both society and Frankenstein himself. Frankenstein becomes obsessed with his project, so obsessed that he neglects his relationships with his friends and family and locks himself in a tower. Being alone and devoting all of his time to working on his creature, Frankenstein becomes disconnected from society. Society’s moral codes began to fade and instead of viewing his experiment as something that could affect the lives of others, he only thinks about the glory it could bring him. Being isolated causes Frankenstein to ignore the lives of the people around him, and in the end his obsession with pushing the limits of science hurts the ones he loves.

Currently, there are many discoveries and advances being made in the field of science, and one of the big questions is when will we go too far and create something dangerous. Building off Mary Shelley’s critique on isolation, I believe that as long as scientists are integrated in society, we do not have to fear science taking a destructive turn. An example of when scientists became isolated from society and lost touch with moral and ethical codes shared by the greater population is the Manhattan Project. The Manhattan Project was launched by the United States in World War II, to create nuclear weapons to end the war. Just like Frankenstein, the scientists involved in the project became obsessed with their task. The scientists were isolated from society and spent most of their time working on creating the best, most powerful weapon, as fast as possible. They became so consumed with their work, that they did not fully consider the monstrous effects it would have on the world around them, like killing millions of innocent people in Nagasaki and Hiroshima. During the time of the Manhattan Project, the scientists lost touch with the world around them, which proved to be catastrophic.

Alongside Frankenstein, the creature is another character Mary Shelley employs to voice the effects of isolation. Through Frankenstein’s experiences, Shelley alludes that interaction with others is key in receiving a proper education. Frankenstein’s creature is treated with rejection by anyone he crosses paths with because of his hideous look and monstrous demeanor. The creature is curious and wants to learn the ways of the world; he tries to learn through observation, rather than interaction because of the negative response his presence elicits. Through observing the DeLacey family, the creature does gain knowledge about spoken language, ancient texts, and about love and relationships. Although his mind becomes filled with information, he never learns how to apply the concepts he has studied, for he never practices interacting with others. The creature becomes very smart, but the more he knows, the more alone he feels, for he lacks the practical application of knowledge; for example, he learns what love is, but he does not experience it. In the end, the creature never truly learns how to become part of society; he is miserable and alone. Experience is vital in learning, and without experience it is hard to become integrated in society.

Today with the rise of technology in classrooms, we must not forget about the importance of social interaction in education, for we do not want the future generation of students to turn into “Frankenstein’s creature”. The technologies that are currently being introduced in classrooms, like laptops for note taking and the use of online assignments and projects, are isolating students from each other and from society. Instead of taking part in a class discussion or asking the teacher a question, students write blog posts for their English and history classes and students complete math and biology problem sets online and receive virtual feedback. Although the students might be gaining knowledge about different subjects through technology in school, they are missing out on learning how to voice their own opinions, debate with people, and work in a team with others; these are all necessary skills to be able to become successful in our society.

I was enrolled in an online homeschooling program until 7th grade, and when I started going to private school in 8th grade, I felt very uncomfortable at first because I did not know how to engage in class discussions, I did not know how to work in a group, and I did not know how to talk to my teachers. Like the creature, I felt like an outsider, and it took practice for me to become comfortable and thrive at my school. I am not saying that we have reached a point where students do not interact with their peers or teachers at all, but society is shifting towards a world where education is becoming a solitary activity, and we should stop and think about what the consequences could be. Similarly, when it comes to science, the scientist and society should never be separate, for we saw the detrimental consequences of isolation in science with the Manhattan project. Mary Shelley’s critique on solitude is very applicable in modern times and should not be forgotten as science and technology become larger parts of our lives.