The crux of Spivak’s argument is that customs, traditions, and events of a society are filtered through the perspective of those at the apex of that society. For example, the daily life in colonial America as we know it is filtered through a white, male, land-owning, Puritan perspective. However, we are losing out on enormous layers of subtext that Spivak describes as the “subaltern”: the perspectives of the poor/working class, women, slaves etc. The subtext can still be detected on a superficial level by understanding and contextualizing the filter itself. In this passage the filters are clearly illustrated and by highlighting these filters we can detect and superficially examine the subaltern within Frankenstein, the creature.

The first to examine is the multiple filters through which the monster and Safie perceive history. Working backwards, we see that the first filter is the book itself. It is written in a “declamatory style” that is “framed in imitation of eastern authors”. The style it is written in indicates that it is perhaps not a factually stringent text, but rather one driven by emotion and rhetoric. The text being framed in an eastern or foreign structure indicates a departure from the proper standard for examining history. Overall, the creature seems to criticize the text and indeed Felix’s reasons for choosing it, and in effect, we see the perspective of the creature, or the subaltern. The ultimate filter, however, is Felix or rather Felix’s perception of the Volney’s “Ruins of Empires”. The monster admits that he would not have understood the book and the history would be lost on him had not Felix “given very minute explanations”. The use of the word “minute” indicates that the explanations were in depth and very careful, as opposed to the bombastic nature of the actual text. The act of explaining itself directly influences and changes the intent of the original author’s since the information expressed by Volney is filtered through Felix’s ideals, and thus we would see the information “tainted” with Felix’s own sentiments. Thus, by understanding and contextualizing Felix’s own ideology, we can separate it from the creature and examine what’s left as the subaltern.

Firstly, the creature admits that he has a “cursory knowledge of history” and a “view” of governments, view here used comparable to that of a glimpse, but not an in-depth, intensive study of history. Yet in the next sentence, the creature claims that it gains insight into “manners, governments, and religions” of various nations, indicating a deeper and wider knowledge of history than previously expressed. Here, we have a fundamental inconsistency with the extent of the creature’s knowledge. This inconsistency fleshes itself out when the creature to makes sweeping generalizations of a society. By prefacing each society with a descriptive word or phrase, i.e., the “slothful” Asiatics or the “stupendous genius and mental activity” of the Grecians, or the “hapless” Native Americans, he ascribes qualities or flaws that are not physical, but rather indicative of character. For example, by describing the Asiatics as slothful, there is an innate anthropomorphization of a society, and by giving it innately human characteristics, it allows for ranking of societies, based on perceived flaws. This perspective is indicative of Felix’s ideology, and when we separate it, we are left with one perspective unique to Frankenstein: his sympathizing with the fate of the Native Americans. Since the word weeping indicates a deep emotional state brought on by personal tragedy, and since the tragedy occurs to someone else the creature has never met, it emphasizes the profound empathy the creature has for the inhabitants. This empathy reveals another characteristic of the creature, or the subaltern, that is not indicative of the overall perspective of the novel.

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