Before taking class, the idea of a Marxist interpretation of Frankenstein would have seemed ridiculous to me, but in reality, many of the ideas that Warren Montag presents in his essay “The ‘Workshop of Filthy Creation’: A Marxist Reading of Frankenstein” are nothing short of intriguing. One of Montag’s main arguments is that the creature is a sign of the proletariat’s unrepresentability, meaning that Frankenstein’s monster is the symbol for the vastness of the masses and their diverse nature.

The creature is a collection of body parts that Dr. Frankenstein assembled from dissecting rooms and slaughter houses, a creation of the wealthy (of which Frankenstein is a part) which embodies the Marxist notion of capitalism creating a lesser class through the current economic system. In real life, that class is the proletariat or working class, but for Frankenstein the lesser class is his own sub-human creation. Montag’s argument raises the interesting point that despite being an amalgamation of man, the creature is not entirely human. This idea partly reflects Enlightenment ideas of the time; philosophes across Europe and North America called for a radical expansion of human rights for all people, including members of the so-called proletariat, while at the same time keeping those people subjugated. The proletariat, much like Frankenstein’s monster, was not treated as “equally human” despite their origins in mankind. The most poignant example of the Enlightenment hypocrisy was the continuation of slavery and the slave trade, the clearest violation of many Enlightenment ideals. The monster is also composed of the pieces of many people, possibly emphasizing how large the proletariat, this one mass of people really is. The monster represents this conflict and the difficulty in describing the proletariat in the era of the novel, the creature and the proletariat in the Enlightenment era raise the loaded question:

Are they deserving of the same rights as people?