“Ambiguity in the Subaltern’ https://foundationsofliterarystudies.wordpress.com/2013/04/08/ambiguity-in-the-subaltern/

In this post, the author analyses the relationship between two groups: Felix, and the monster and Safie. The author relates Felix to the imperial power, the coloniser, while assigning Safie and the Creature the subordinate group of the colonised. The author shows the power that Felix wields over his “subjects”, influencing their thoughts and behaviour. However, far from casting imperialism in a positive light, Frankenstein actually hones in on the negative aspects that the imperialist mould has forced on the native people. In fact the novel shows the insidious nature of imperialism, where it promotes movements such as feminism and yet at the same time disparages it too.

As the author presents, the monster is an intelligent being, able to differentiate and make his own judgements. Through listening to Felix, who is very pro-colonisation, he gains a rough idea of the social status that the colonised people occupy. He identifies with this colonised people and is affected with pity and sorrow for their “hapless fate”. In this feeling of sorrow for the colonised, we see the first seeds of defiance against imperialism. The clear disapproval in the disruption of lives is a trespass that even a monster is able to sympathise with. The second challenge to the idyllic representation of imperialism common in the time is seen through Safie. Here we see Safie, a colonised Eastern woman, learned in the language and principles of the Western sphere. She is the burgeoning feminist; strong and independent. Feminism is actually a direct consequence of imperialism, where values such as independence, tolerance and innovation are held at the forefront. Yet, the effects of imperialism on Safie seem to vanish when she encounters the monster. “Safie, unable to attend to her friend, rushed out of the cottage.” (114). These high handed values of tolerance and compassion for the Other disappear under the first instance of confrontation, giving lie to the effectiveness of imperialism on human nature.

The effect of imperialism on the characters in the novel do not exactly promote the efficacy of the movement. In fact, although benefits such as language and education are touted, the overall impairing effects and the negative reactions of the ‘colonised’ within the novel expose its weaknesses.

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