The novel as we know it today fulfills a variety of roles, serving as everything from a medium for political commentary, to a portrayal of a character’s life, to an embodiment of a particular time in history, to a form of entertainment. At the time of the novel’s creation, however, the goal of the emergent medium was less fluid, and writers of the era instead came to define a singular purpose for the new form through their pioneering works. While stylistic choices and methods of characterization varied widely within the first novels, the range of techniques employed represents the pursuit of a common purpose: to impart a moral to the reader and to present an ideal way to live life.

As discussed in Langford’s “Reteling Moll’s Story: The Editor’s Preface to Moll Flanders,” Defoe includes a preface to his work and crafts the editor of Moll’s story as a separate character in order to strengthen the novel’s didactic power. By overlaying details surrounding Moll’s life of crime with added-in exclamations of her repentance, explanations of lessons learned, and sincere expression that the reader learn from her mistakes, Defoe  emphasizes the novel’s role as a teaching mechanism for morality.

The role of the author also comes into play when defining the purpose of the novel. In his essay, “Reading at Arm’s Length: Fielding’s Contract with the Reader in Tom Jones,” Sherman discusses the need for the author to continually entertain the reader in order to keep he or she reading onward. In entering into a contract with said readers and promising to fulfill this obligation as an author, Fielding insures the success of his novel. It follows that if readers are entertained by a work, they will be engaged with it as well, and can thus learn from the example of Tom and the idea of virtue as put forth by the storyline.

Although the author’s presence was not always so prevalent in the first novels, his or her intention in imparting a moral to readers remains constant regardless.  As discussed by Katrina Clifford, The History of Miss Betsy Thoughtless presents a strong case for “subtradition within the domestic novel” and “emphasizes the negative effects male authority can have over women” (Clifford, 4). In highlighting a subversive viewpoint through the medium of her novel, Lennox presents a new perspective of female roles in society for readers to embody and adopt.

The use of “Nobody” characters, as discussed by Gallagher, also serves authorial intent in crafting a work with a moralistic message in mind. In moving away from specific characterization that could only be applied to one person and incorporating character types that could be applied to a wide variety of people, authors of the era insured that their intended life lessons resonated with a large audience.

In his article “Generic Transformation and Social Change: Rethinking the Rise of the Novel,” McKeon discusses “questions of truth” and “questions of virtue” raised by the novel form. Both types of questions ask “What kind of authority or evidence is required of narrative to permit it to signify truth to its readers?” and “What kind of social existence or behavior signifies an individual’s virtue to others?” (McKeon, 4) Answering these questions is imperative for an author in order to insure that his or her moral message is understood. Exploration of ideas regarding both virtue and truth thus serves the authors’ purpose of conveying a meaningful moral to readers.

The novel as we know it today fulfills a variety of roles, serving as everything from a medium for political commentary, to a portrayal of a character’s life, to an embodiment of a particular time in history, to a form of entertainment. At the time of the novel’s creation, however, the goal of the emergent medium was less fluid, and writers of the era instead came to define a singular purpose for the new form through their pioneering works. While stylistic choices and methods of characterization varied widely within the first novels, the range of techniques employed represents the pursuit of a common purpose: to impart a moral to the reader and to present an ideal way to live life.

As discussed in Langford’s “Retelling Moll’s Story: The Editor’s Preface to Moll Flanders,” Defoe includes a preface to his work and crafts the editor of Moll’s story as a separate character in order to strengthen the novel’s didactic power. By overlaying details surrounding Moll’s life of crime with added-in exclamations of her repentance, explanations of lessons learned, and sincere expression that the reader learn from her mistakes, Defoe  emphasizes the novel’s role as a teaching mechanism for morality.

The role of the author also comes into play when defining the purpose of the novel. In his essay, “Reading at Arm’s Length: Fielding’s Contract with the Reader in Tom Jones,” Sherman discusses the need for the author to continually entertain the reader in order to keep he or she reading onward. In entering into a contract with said readers and promising to fulfill this obligation as an author, Fielding insures the success of his novel. It follows that if readers are entertained by a work, they will be engaged with it as well, and can thus learn from the example of Tom and the idea of virtue as put forth by the storyline.

Although the author’s presence was not always so prevalent in the first novels, his or her intention in imparting a moral to readers remains constant regardless.  As discussed by Katrina Clifford, The History of Miss Betsy Thoughtless presents a strong case for “subtradition within the domestic novel” and “emphasizes the negative effects male authority can have over women” (Clifford, 4). In highlighting a subversive viewpoint through the medium of her novel, Lennox presents a new perspective of female roles in society for readers to embody and adopt.

The use of “Nobody” characters, as discussed by Gallagher, also serves authorial intent in crafting a work with a moralistic message in mind. In moving away from specific characterization that could only be applied to one person and incorporating character types that could be applied to a wide variety of people, authors of the era insured that their intended life lessons resonated with a large audience.

In his article “Generic Transformation and Social Change: Rethinking the Rise of the Novel,” McKeon discusses “questions of truth” and “questions of virtue” raised by the novel form. Both types of questions ask “What kind of authority or evidence is required of narrative to permit it to signify truth to its readers?” and “What kind of social existence or behavior signifies an individual’s virtue to others?” (McKeon, 4) Answering these questions is imperative for an author in order to insure that his or her moral message is understood. Exploration of ideas regarding both virtue and truth thus serves the authors’ purpose of conveying a meaningful moral to readers.

 

Who is ultimately responsibility for the actions of Frankenstein’s monster? Although it is easy to attach blame to Victor, his complete responsibility for the actions of his monster is somewhat problematic. Much like the human population, the monster was given free will. In other words, it is entirely his choice to respond with evil to his unfortunate situation. Victor Frankenstein is certainly cruel to his creation; however, the monster further contributed to his creator’s disapproval when he murders many of the people for whom Victor cares deeply.  The monster does not approach his maker with civility, but he murders his younger brother instead.  As a result, Victor’s refusal to create a partner for this “devil” is not difficult to understand. The monster chooses the path violence to achieve his goal, rather than civilly requesting Victor’s audience. While Victor does not represent an overwhelmingly sympathetic character, his scientific advances present his with an exceptionally difficult situation. He does attempt to end the lineage of the “devil” he created by not allowing the monster to have a mate. As a result, Victor was taking a small amount of responsibility for the monster because he was willing to endure the monster’s vengeance for his disobedience. Nonetheless, the responsibility ultimately falls solely on the monster. As a creature independent of his maker, he chooses a life of evil and destruction rather than redemption. Consequently, the monster should alone be held responsible for his decisions. If the creator is held responsible for the actions of his or her creation, then it stands to reason that parents should be held responsible for the decisions of their children.