Companionship and Friendship

By Micheal Nejak and Jim Hantz

Text Analysis

Friendship is a common theme in Mary Shelley's Frankenstein. Some characters like Victor struggle in keeping different relationships while others, like the De Lacey family hold on to each other even through hardship. Here are some examples from the book.

Quote 1

“I have no friend Margret…there will be none to participate in my joy; if I am assailed by disappointment. No one will endeavor to sustain me in dejection”- Letter 2


In this quote, Walton expresses his need for a true companion out on his travels. This quote shows the value of a friend through empathy and compassion. If Walton were ever to succeed in his goal, he would have no one to rejoice with him or to console him if he had failed. A friend can help to support you in a time of trouble and grief, helping you to move on to the next day without strife. A friend will encourage you to push forward and persevere and will praise you when you pull through.

Quote 2

“When she heard that the life of her favorite was menaced, she could no longer control her anxiety. She attended her sick bed--her watchful attentions triumphed over the malignity of the distemper--Elizabeth was saved, but the consequences of this imprudence were fatal to her preserver.” - Ch 3


This quote shows how Victor’s mother loved Elizabeth so much that she was willing to sacrifice herself to aid her. It shows how family and friends should be willing to protect you at all costs. A friendship/family bond is meant for the mutual well being of both people. If a person has fallen ill, a true friend or family member feels a certain sorrow for you and, depending on how strong the bond is, will help to return to health, even at the cost of their time, money, and life.

Quote 3

“Nothing could equal my delight on seeing Clerval; his presence brought back to my thoughts my father, Elizabeth, and all those scenes of home so dear to my recollection. I grasped his hand, and in a moment forgot my horror and misfortune; I felt suddenly, and for the first time during many months, calm and serene joy. I welcomed my friend” - Ch 5


This quote shows Victor’s delight in seeing his old friend. Victor has withdrew himself from all contact with his family, even to the point of obsession with his creation. When we shut out the friends around us, we seem to lose something inside of us. When we are reunited with our friends, we tend to forget the trials of the day and focus on having a good time with your friends.

Quote 4

“They loved and sympathized with one another; and their joys, depending on each other, were not interrupted by the casualties that took place around them. The more I saw of them, the greater became my desire to claim their protection and kindness; my heart yearned to be known and loved by these amiable creatures.” - Ch 15


This quote shows both the optimism of the De Laceys and how the creature admires them. A true companionship/friendship should transcend all hardships they face. Think about marriage vows (“for better or for worse”, “in sickness and in health”,”till death do us part”). These values also apply to strong friendships. No matter what happens, the group will muddle through and will not allow themselves to separate. The De Laceys also show how a good companionship can set a good example for others as it does for the monster.

Quote 5

“She was thinner and had lost much of that heavenly vivacity that had before charmed me; but her gentleness and soft looks of compassion made her a more fit companion for one blasted and miserable as I was.” - Ch 22


This quote shows two things. First it shows how Elizabeth has changed since Victor left as she was scared that she was losing him. It again shows the hole left from Victor’s absence and it also shows the worry that Elizabeth felt for Victor. The absence of someone you love can cause a great deal of stress and can take a toll on your well-being. The quote also shows the true love that Victor has for Elizabeth. She wasn't as pretty as she had been when he left her, but he still loved her and appreciated her companionship. Appearances don’t matter in a relationship as long as the heart is there.

Quote 6

“For while I destroyed his hopes, I did not satisfy my own desires. They were forever ardent and craving; still I desired love and fellowship, and I was still spurned.” - Ch 24


Even while the creature feels hatred for the human race for rejecting him, he still seeks “fellowship.” He felt sorrow for rejecting Victor and destroying his family and still wants a friend, whether it be human or...after-human. Everyone has a need inside of them for a friend. This is especially true if you are rejected, as it appears that you can’t sensibly make friends.

Modern Connections

Friendship is a very valuable thing, as demonstrated by both Shelly and the world around us. It is a common need that must to be fulfilled. Studies have shown that a lack of friends can influence you because of increased stress hormones released into the body. In the long term, this can cause high blood pressure, thinner arteries, loss of sleep, and even bad memory and learning. Chronic loneliness, especially in early years, can cause large amounts of damage, “the real reason behind most school dropouts”(Marano).


On the other side, friendship provides a lot of healthful benefits. In a 9-year study, people who had a lot of friends had a 60% less risk of dying(Berkowitz). A year long study where depressed women were paired up with a companion or “volunteer friend” showed that friendship can decrease the feelings of depression. 72% of the women felt better, which is about as successful as antidepressants(Raymond).It can also keep you from unhealthy habits like binge drinking and lack of exercise(Mayo Clinic Staff).

According to Aristotle, there are three types of friendships: those that are useful(think of the smart kid in class that takes good notes), those for pleasure(friends to call up when you want to go out to the movies or go to a party) , and those who you mutually care about each other and want to grow with each other(true companions like Victor’s mother and Elizabeth). We seem to have less friends who mutually help each other to grow. The average Facebook user has 130 friends, but not all of them are true, solid friendships. A survey in the 2000s showed that Americans had a third less true friends than they did almost a generation ago. 25% didn't have any. A 2009 study also showed that a group of 3000 Americans had an average of four close contacts, half of which were friends, half were family members. When we have more close friends, we build a web of companionship. Our friends help us set moral standards, kindly discipline us when we screw up, and encourage us to improve(Askt). We need these relationships to help us grow with each other as better people.

Sources

Askt, Daniel. "America: Land of Loners?" Welcome to Wilson Quarterly. June 2010. 4 Mar. 2014 <http://www.wilsonquarterly.com/essays/america-land-loners>.


Berkowitz, Gale. "CND: UCLA Study On Friendship Among Women." CND: UCLA Study On Friendship Among Women. 2002. 4 Mar. 2014 <http://www.anapsid.org/cnd/gender/tendfend.html>.


Marano, Hara E. "The Dangers of Loneliness." Psychology Today: Health, Help, Happiness + Find a Therapist. 10 Oct. 2010. 4 Mar. 2014 <http://www.psychologytoday.com/articles/200308/the-dangers-loneliness>.


Mayo Clinic Staff. "Friendships: Enrich your life and improve your health." Friendships: Enrich your life and improve your health. 5 Feb. 2014. Mayo Clinic: Adult Health. 4 Mar. 2014 <http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-living/adult-health/in-depth/friendships/art-20044860?footprints=mine>.


Raymond, Natasha. "The Hug Drug." Psychology Today: Health, Help, Happiness + Find a Therapist. 3 Oct. 2007. 4 Mar. 2014 <http://www.psychologytoday.com/articles/199911/the-hug-drug>