Human cognition is the study of how people think and understand. As part of growing up, there are four stages called the cognitive developmental stages that an individual goes through. From the sensory motor stage to the formal operational stage, human beings learn to interpret their surroundings of everyday life experiences. However, in the case of the Creature in the novel, Frankenstein, he was never developed in a cognitive way, and therefore, the creature was passively torn by opposing forces of human beings in his surrounding environments.
Overall, cognitive development and the relation between the Creature’s turn towards violence is a result of neglect, psychological indifferences, and lack of socialization skills. There are a variety of perspectives and emphases within cognitive psychology of human beings. Psychological indifferences of the Creature creates conflicts within himself and his surroundings. If an individual has a different view of life, the resulting factor may be psychologically challenging.
This Creature was brought to life with grotesque looks and an abnormal brain. He did not know any concepts to the environment surrounding him, and therefore, was a child in an adult’s body. According to Jean Piaget, when the Creature was first brought to life, he is in the sensory motor stage’ of human development. This is the level at which “individuals experience the world only through their senses” (Macionis 65).
Since the Creature was never taught right from wrong, he thought that whatever he was doing was the right concept. It is obvious that we do not commit acts of murder; however, in the Creature’s world of his own, he thought an act of murder was entertainment and dramatizing when he first comes into contact with a little girl. For example, when the little girl comes and asks the Creature to play with her, he ends up throwing her into the lake, drowning her because she can not swim (Frankenstein).
If this Creature was psychologically taught that he is larger than other humans and needs to be cautious with how he handles situations, such circumstances might be prevented. In a movie version titled, Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, the Creature and his creator, Victor Frankenstein are in a cave and they are both arguing with each other about the events that has happened with the murdering of Victor’s relatives. The Creature responds to Victor’s statements with, “You gave me these emotions, but you did not tell me how to use them” (Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein).
Emotions are the feelings directed towards, or the results of one’s environment. “Psychological control entails efforts to influence a child that interface with psychological and emotional growth, such as shaming, inducing guilt, or withdrawing love” (Engler 138), as states in the textbook of Personality Theories. In the novel, Frankenstein, the Creature is exposed to a great deal of neglect by his creator that leads to cognitive damage causing a number of conflicts.
From when he was brought to life, to the death of Victor Frankenstein, the creature never had parents to be role models to develop him into the world. According to Alfred Adler in Personality Theories, neglect is “a type of maltreatment that refers to the failure to provide needed age-appropriate care” (Engler 286). Since the Creature is neglected throughout the novel, he has to develop the skills to educate himself through the reading writing, and listening of other human beings.
In the reviews of Frankenstein, it states, “The result is, the monster, who was at first, according to his own account, but a harmless monster, becomes ferocious and malignant, in consequence of finding all his approaches to human society repelled with injurious violence and offensive marks of disgust” (Blackwood’s Edinburgh Magazine 1). If the Creature was brought up with the adequate care of a father or mother, there would not be a cognitive development of ferocity and fierceness as seen through the eyes of the Creature.
It is not that the Creature does not want both his creator and father in his life, because he does; it is Victor that does not want anything to do with his creation. His neglecting leads to an argument held out by the creature where he states: All men hate the wretched; how, then, must I be hated, who am miserable beyond all living things! Yet you, my creator, detest and spurn me, thy creature, to whom thou art bound by ties only dissoluble by the annihilation of one of us. Your purpose to kill me. How dare you sport thus with life?
Do your duty towards me, and I will do mine towards you and the rest of mankind. If you will comply with my conditions, I will leave them and you at peace; but if you refuse, I will glut the maw of death, until it be satisfied with the blood of your remaining friends (Shelley 137). The Creature comes to the realization that he is hated by everyone he comes into contact with, including his own father, and as a result of being neglected, he chooses to commit acts of brutality that makes him hated even more.
If he was taught the concepts of right from wrong from when he was brought to life in his early cognitive stages, his harmless personality would help him be accepted by the people into the world, despite his grotesqueness. It is a matter of parenting or not that leads to the kind of future one individual will have, and in this case, the Creature has none. Socialization can be defined as the lifelong social experience by which individuals develop their human potential and learn culture (Macionis 61). In the case of Frankenstein, the Creature lacks any skill of socialization.
Not only does he not know how to communicate with other human beings, he does not know how to read or write. When he is first brought to life, he is at the first stage of cognitive development. As time passes, he develops into the preoperational stage. This is when the Creature learns the concepts of symbols (Macionis 62). For example, the Creature first goes out on a journey into the forest of Ingoldstadt to experience the outside world. “He discovered the use of fire and various other rudiments of knowledge and socialization; and thus accomplished, he ventured forth into the great world” (Quarterly Review 1).
Now, knowing the concepts of fire and how it can be dangerous, he experiments further into the world around him. Every person he comes into contact with depicts him as a monster and is frightened by him. Therefore, the Creature is never able to develop the approach to language since nobody will give him the chance and help teach him like he was supposed to be taught. Furthermore, this creates animosity and the Creature makes a turn towards violence because he does not know how to communicate with anyone.
He is thinking that his way of communication is to get revenge on his creator, Victor, by assassinating his relatives, since that is the only way of socialization he has. On the other hand, while traveling into the forests, the Creature comes into contact with a small cottage. He sits at a window and listens to a family, acquiring an education for himself. He makes the discovery that: These people possessed a method of communicating their experiences and feelings to one another by articulate sounds.
I perceived that the words they spoke sometimes produced pleasure or pain, smiles or sadness, in the minds and countenances of the hearers. Overall, I learned from the views of social life which it developed, to admire their virtues, and to deprecate the vices of mankind (Shelley 87). Upon obtaining an almost complete abstraction of socialization skills of learning how to think, communicate, and read, he is now in the final stage of cognitive development, which is the formal operational stage, in which he taught himself. The Creature now has an understanding of the approach to life that he did not apprehend before.
Since people still detest the Creature for his appearance and the violence he has committed, he requests from Victor, a female creature to be his companion so they will understand and be able to socialize with each other. In general, without social experiences, an individual is incapable of thought, emotion, or meaningful action as visible through the Creature in Frankenstein. Overall, the research into cognitive development teaches us that psychological indifferences, neglect, and lack of socialization skills are the results of the Creature’s violent acts in Mary Shelley’s, Frankenstein.
Without proper parenting, results such as the fierceness seen through the Creature are reprehensible. The development of an individual is taught by going thru the different stages of cognitive development, and therefore, emphasizes how people perceive, process, and react to information from their surrounding environment. If the Creature was simply brought up thru these four stages of development, maybe his acts of violence throughout the novel would have been avoided, but we will never know.