What Makes Us Humans: Essay on nature Vs. Nurture
In the world, there are billions of people going about their daily lives, all in a different way than the next. It is highly unlikely that any two people are exactly alike, similar to what is believed of snowflakes. Each person is completely unique, no matter how hard one may try to embody someone else. Even identical twins, though they have the same genetic makeup, can differ immensely based on their surroundings and upbringing. This relates to a commonly debated topic known as nature versus nurture, the questioning of whether genetics or surroundings and environment has a bigger influence on mankind. There have been a number of studies to discover which, nature or nurture, is more influential over one’s life. After extensive research, both genetics and surroundings have been credited with having the greatest effect on man, however, it is not difficult to come to the conclusion that in most cases, nurture holds a stronger power than nature. Nurture, by far, puts the greatest impact on a human being, from the way they act to their internal emotions, and two classic pieces of literature, Frankenstein by Mary Shelley and The Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka both encompass a character who is shaped greatly by the surrounding world.
A perfect example of environment overpowering genetics is in Mary Shelley’s novel, Frankenstein. The main character of the story, the Monster, is completely defined by his environment. In the novel, this monster is created out of multiple body parts of different deceased people, so he really has no defined genetic background. Doctor Victor Frankenstein, his own creator was not biologically related to him, so the Monster’s biological and genetic background was never actually introduced. Since it was not introduced, his genes were not the focus of the Monster’s or the reader’s attention, whereas the world that he was living in was. This creature was an outcast in society, looking grotesque and abnormally large, causing the Monster to be constantly ignored and rejected by those around him. One by one, Frankenstein, William, the DeLacey family, and eventually what seemed like the whole world turned on him, evoking anger and hatred in his bones. The Monster was not born evil, it was not in his blood, but the way that those around him treated him made him loathe mankind.
Similarly to in Frankenstein, Kafka’s, The Metamorphosis, focuses on a character who undergoes immense changes in his life, but mainly due to his environment. Gregor Samsa woke up a bug, one day and yes, of course, that changes his life, but the main changes over the course of his life are due to how he is treated in this new form. Samsa was, at the beginning of the novella, nothing like his parents. He was hardworking, never missing a day of his job as a traveling salesman, always provided for his family, and kept a roof over their heads, whereas his family stayed home, didn’t work and relied on Gregor.
If nature took a toll on him, he would sit home and have the same traits of the rest of his family, but it does not and that only pushes Gregor Samsa to work harder and achieve more in his life. The way is family reacts, however, when he becomes a beetle, brings out a whole new side of Samsa. Rather than being involved with his family, their rejection of his new body had caused him to be completely isolated and abandoned, similar to Frankenstein’s Monster. This negative attitude that Gregor was exposed to this late in his life put a burden on him with the idea that he was disgusting his family and making life harder for them. Because of this, Samsa longed to die and take the extra weight off of his family’s shoulders. The way he saw how his family viewed him after this great change, that was not caused by genetics, had a severe impact on how he viewed himself and his life.
Many may argue that nature has more influence over one’s life, and while that may be true it is outweighed by nurture in most situations. There have been many studies to prove that heredity and genetics are the most powerful thing in life, and it may have been proven that “intelligence is 80% inherited”(McLeod), however, intelligence is not all that makes up a human being. People are so much more than their book-smarts, there are psychological aspects that people gain through experience. Saul McLeod wrote in an article that a large majority of scientists and people invested in studying the effects of nature and nurture believe that “at birth the human mind is a tabula rasa (a blank slate) and that this is gradually ‘filled’ as a result of experience”(McLeod), which helps to provide insight on why the things that mankind is exposed to is a key factor in how people act and feel.
The debate of nature versus nurture is one that may never end. It is very difficult to find a straightforward answer to which is more important and influential to and on human beings, due to the immense amount of detail put into defending either side. A number of scientific and psychological studies has led me to strongly believe and support, as stated before, that the biggest role in the dictation of life is experiences and what one is around. Therefore, typically what a person surrounds themselves with is a basis for their actions and qualities, proving that nurture exerts more influence on life than nature. Going forward with such information, it can be known that how people treat one another and what one surrounds themselves with will set the tone for who they become.