Blog Post: “The creature leaves the subaltern hierarchy” at https://foundationsofliterarystudies.wordpress.com/2013/04/08/the-creature-breaks-the-subaltern/

Real talk: I picked this post because it was shortest. To summarize the poster’s argument, the creature disrupts the relationship between the colonizer (Felix) and the “subaltern” (Safie) because the creature sympathizes both with and against Safie, and because the creature gains a voice.

The connection between the title and the post doesn’t seem very clear. Therefore, we’ll start by defining the “subaltern hierarchy.” I’m going to take a wild stab and say that in the “subaltern hierarchy,” the colonizer is above the subaltern. Where does the creature fall on this hierarchy? The colonizer? Maybe. The creature does eventually desire to “go to the vast wilds of South America,” with a mate, and I suppose that would be a colony of sorts (129). How about the subaltern, the people with less power? The creature seems to lack power, as he is powerless to change people’s rejection of him. However, if Safie, a Muslim-Christan woman, is one of the subaltern, can the creature really be on the same level as her? She has the power to reject him as well. The creature doesn’t lie below the subaltern. He has some power over nature, and he has superhuman attributes, as seen when he bounds over the ice. He doesn’t go above the colonizers either. Victor still has more power than him in denying him a female creature. Therefore, I propose that the creature was never a part of this “subaltern hierarchy” in the first place. He has always been the other.

But what of the connection between the creature and Safie? The creature once again mirrors a woman, just as Justine mirrored his monstrosity during her trial (“I almost began to think I was the monster that he said I was” [83]). This adds to more ambiguity of the creatures status. He is referred to as male, but more parallels appear between him and the women of the story than any of the men besides Victor. The creature’s ambiguity is what shatters the relationship between Felix as the colonizer and Safie as the subaltern. The balance of power is uncertain.

In the final point about the creature removing his status as a voiceless other, I’d argue that that isn’t quite true. Just because the creature’s story is in first person doesn’t mean it isn’t as indirect as Safie’s story. Victor tells the creature’s story. By doing so, he removes the creature’s voice and replaces it with his own. Although the creature’s story is told through his perspective, Victor’s unreliable narrative makes it questionable how much of the story was Victor and how much of the story was the creature.

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