The passages from Shelley’s Frankenstein; or the Modern Prometheus and Defoe’s Robinson Crusoe both present similar overarching themes, such as humanity, but differ in their perspective of this idea. Each novel also addresses the awareness of one’s humanity, with Frankenstein’s creature having studied his “accursed origin”, while Crusoe states how “making the most rational judgment of things” results in fulfillment of one’s goals. Both pieces mirror ideals from the Enlightenment period, one of which includes mastery of nature. Shelley’s Frankenstein comments on how if he is successful, then he can “renew life where death” (692) has taken over. Similarly, Defoe’s Crusoe commits himself to construct “such necessary things as I found most wanted” from what natural resources he has available to him. Additionally, both men appear to be inventors, but through different means; Crusoe builds because he must in order to survive, but Frankenstein does so out of a pure desire to create a “new species” which had previously never existed.
Contrasting elements between the two works include differing perspectives on the value of life. Crusoe “smiled to [him]self” upon seeing money which he had no use for, but still found that he could appreciate it because life only has the meaning one gives to it. Whereas Frankenstein’s creature believes that his life is devoid of any significance as he has no relationship with his “cursed creator” or any other sort of companion. Also, even though Frankenstein’s creature and Crusoe are alone in the world, their attitudes differ a great deal. The monster believes his “solitary and detested” existence is reason for self-pity because he can not connect with another single soul. Crusoe, however, revels in his isolation and does not see it as an excuse to abandon the “few comforts [he has] in the world.” Our humanity and sense of self are warped by our perspective.