Isolation and Mary Shelley’s “Frankenstein”

Isolation and Mary Shelley’s “Frankenstein”

“Nothing is so painful to the human mind as a great and sudden change.”
― Mary Shelley, Frankenstein

{Such as being hit with a chronic, debilitating illness, perhaps?}

“…nothing contributes so much to tranquilize the mind as a steady purpose…”
― Mary Shelley, Frankenstein

{Like the jobs that we all want to partake in, but sadly lose when these illnesses take over?}

“Even broken in spirit as he is, no one can feel more deeply than he does the beauties of nature. The starry sky, the sea, and every sight afforded by these wonderful regions, seems still to have the power of elevating his soul from earth. Such a man has a double existence: he may suffer misery, and be overwhelmed by disappointments; yet, when he has retired into himself, he will be like a celestial spirit that has a halo around him, within whose circle no grief or folly ventures.”
― Mary Shelley, Frankenstein

{I truly believe that higher highs come with the lowest of lows…}

“I shall commit my thoughts to paper, it is true; but that is a poor medium for the communication of feeling. I desire the company of a man who could sympathize with me, whose eyes would reply to mine.”
― Mary Shelley, Frankenstein

{I think we all want someone who can truly understand us, and when suffering from chronic illnesses, often the only people who can relate are other people in similar shoes…}

“I saw no cause for their unhappiness, but I was deeply affected by it. If such lovely creatures were miserable, it was less strange that I, an imperfect and solitary being, should be wretched.”
― Mary Shelley, Frankenstein

{I try not to look at things this way, but sometimes I think we all feel a little sorry for ourselves…}

“Continue for the present to write to me by every opportunity: I may receive your letters on some occasions when I need them most to support my spirits.”
― Mary Shelley, Frankenstein

{Receiving letters from friends is the best feeling in the world when you are as isolated as I am!}

“All men hate the wretched.”
― Mary Shelley, Frankenstein

{I don’t think this is necessarily true, but I think people fear what they can’t understand, whether that is in the case of disability or disfigurement, etc…}

This book touched me much more as an adult with chronic illnesses than it ever did as a teen who was on a path to read the classics.  Now, I don’t want to play into the whole ‘are monsters born or created’ argument, or the ‘modern prometheus’ comparison.  I just want to look at the character in terms of sheer isolation.  It shows just how much we all desire to be understood, and how absolutely heartbreaking it can be if we can’t find that among the people in our lives (assuming there are any…).  I know becoming sick caused people to act differently around me, and I most certainly relate better to those who are also sick, so I can see the creature’s desire to have another creature made just like him for companionship.

I used to be miserable, but I’ve been making more of an effort to be heard, and when that fails, I’m studying ways to find inner peace and control those feelings of loneliness.  I don’t get too overwhelmed from the alone time, as I’m a natural introvert, but still…it hurts to be so misunderstood in the world.  THANKFULLY, the majority of us are kind enough that we don’t feel like other people need to be made to hurt in order to deal with our own suffering, but there are certainly some who go about life in such a negative manner.

Either way, if you haven’t read this classic piece of literature, I highly recommend it.  At some moments the beautiful writing about loneliness brought tears to my eyes.

Do you have any books that aren’t directly about chronic illness, but that capture some of the feelings that come with it?



2 Responses »

  1. Hi Annie,
    I read some of your blogs. Yes, the little valley that is usually our bed.
    Surrounded by papers. I have @dystonia since 1996.
    We are in the broad category of @chronic pain disorders.
    We have different conditions but we know pain. We know the feeling of being thought of weak. They just do not understand, nor does anyone who has never had severe chronic pain. Depression is an expected consequence of chronic pain and/or disability. I didn’t mean to make this a depressing email. I do my best to stay positive.

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