justine2

Arlyne Gonzalez

Mary Shelly explores the demeaning and uprising of humanity and civilization in her novel, Frankenstein. Throughout the novel, Victor and the creature project a mutual hate toward one another, but little do they know that they both reflect each other’s nature, and that nature is negatively projected onto Victor’s loved ones and their unfortunate fates. For instance, Justine Moritz. A minor character in the novel whose livelihood is to be the Frankenstein’s family servant. A servant whom the Frankenstein’s hold dear love for and consider her as part of their family. Justine was erroneously accused and executed for the murder of Victor’s younger brother, William. When in truth, William was murdered at the hands of the vengeful creature. Victor was aware of what the creature had done and stayed reticent about the truth. Victor did not put forth any effort in defending nor helping Justine be free from this false accusation. This demonstrates how Victor was abandoning his humanity along with civilization. Victor selfishly did not want to advocate for Justine because he did not want to take accountability for his unwise experimentation. Victor cared more about his reputation and conformed with what the townspeople concluded on Justine.

This event in the novel indeed associates with Edmund Burke’s political and societal outlook on humanity. More specifically, the French Revolution. Burke condemned the French Revolution to be insidious and the demolisher of nature, power, humanity, and civilization. The concept of violence and people betraying one another was what Burke believed to be a contributing factor to a lost and broken society. Burke believed revolutions compelled individuals to follow a system where “laws are to be supported only by their own terrors, and by the concern, which each individual may find in them, from his own private speculations, or can spare to them his own private interests” (Burke, 77). Burke is describing Victor and his lack of having a conscience. Victor was allowing himself to be governed by his fear of being exposed by his ill-doings. Burke is emphasizing how individuals tend to develop the habit of conforming with what others are doing, regardless if that doing is unjust and unmoral. Burke concluded that the French Revolution destroyed the age of chivalry because people were surrendering their morals and justice out of fear and terror. Revolutions demolished gallantry societies and manufactured a society where citizenship and social order were abandoned due to compelled fear conformity within individuals. The French Revolution and Justine’s execution are manifestations of the ill consequences of revolutions and the downfall of humanity and civilization.