Felicity In <i>Frankenstein</i>

Mike W. Martin

in Happiness and the Good Life

Published in print May 2012 | ISBN: 9780199845217
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780199933068 | DOI:
Felicity In Frankenstein

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Does happiness promote virtue, and unhappiness cause vice? Mary Shelley dramatizes the issue in Frankenstein, and her insights into the moral psychology of happiness deserve attention. Her articulate monster argues, based on his personal experience (and reminiscent of Rousseau), that happiness promotes virtue and unhappiness produces vice. Victor Frankenstein largely shares this “happiness principle.” Although this agreement between the two protagonists is central to the novel’s plot, Shelley conveys the more nuanced view. Happiness does tend to promote virtue, and unhappiness often promotes vice, but the unqualified belief in the happiness principle can function as a source of moral evasion.

Keywords: happiness; Mary Shelley; Frankenstein; creativity; happiness principle

Chapter.  7247 words. 

Subjects: Moral Philosophy

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