When Critical Race studies are applied as a lens towards Mary Shelly’s novel, “Frankenstein,” perspectives of obscure subjects or aspects come to light. Critical race studies scholars like W.E.B. Du Bois, Gloria E. Anzaldua, Edouard Glissant, and Ngugi Wa Thiong’s; express contemporary studies on race, cultural identity, but most of all essentialist assumptions of gender, race, cultural identity etc. Similarly, we can draw ideas from critical race scholars to obtain a perspective of important aspects that the novel may be trying to covey. In the novel, the origins of the Delacey’s family social circumstance, Safie’s own story (and her father’s) and the creature all have commonality. This scenario of Safie’s story comes from racial discrimination and injustice. Safie’s father was a foreigner in France living his daily life when he was accused of a crime and had been condemned by The French Government. He was incarcerated a d sentenced to death. Felix hearing such injustice decided to help Safie’s father and in the process of trying to authenticate a form of “belonging,” in this case the passports, he fell in love with Safie. Safie is a Muslim Arab immigrant woman who also falls in love with Felix. She had been taught be her Christian Arab mother and was taught independence and intellect at a young age. As the story goes, Safie’s father disapproves the marriage and makes plans of his own to leave France and take Safie with him. At the same time, Felix unaware of this betrayal has the French Government suspicion and as a result, pay’s the price for helping a “terrorist.” His family were targets of the French Family and therefore are forced to leave (exiled) from their home country. Throughout, the narration the Creature tells his creator Victor that he will, “prove the truth of my tale,” in order to provide evidence of his tale, the tale of Safie’s as well. By providing authenticity to his tale and that of Walton’s. Authenticity is key in this part of the novel. In a way, if we applied this to the lens of race studies, most immigrants and refugees; people who are “othered” do not have authenticity. Therefore, do not belong to the Western social standards in race, culture, and most of all identity.

 

From the Creatures (indirectly Walton’s) narrative, the DeLacey family had been unhappy for a long time enduring a life of hardship in Germany. However, upon Safie’s arrival, their sad echoed life seemed to have a been lifted up. Another aspect to note is that Safie and both the Creature were learning the language in order to communicate. Which brings me to the point of the novel. The DeLacey family, Safie (and her father), and the Creature all have a common feeling. They are in some way refugees. The DeLacey family stripped from their wealth, status, and exiled from their homeland had to assimilate with Germany in order to live. Safie and her father faced discrimination and racial injustice due to their culture/identity had to leave France. In addition, the Creature is someone whose appearance does not conform to the socially constructed standards of his time. Therefore, in a way, he is discriminated against for his appearance.  They are aware of the double-consciousness. Which according to W.E.D De Bois idea is, “a sense of always looking at one’s self through the eyes of others, of measuring one’s soul by the tape of the world that looks on in amused contempt and pity.” The Creature most of all, is aware of this double-consciousness that mankind sees him in. For example, he is aware that he is a species that does not identify with another kind, his constant rejection of Victor even the DeLacey Family, and his feelings of injustices toward him.

  • Karla Garcia Barrera