Tag Archive: belonging


Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein holds obvious relations to that of our own society today as characters within the novel encompass a seemingly subtle, yet prominent desire to belong. In order to fulfill such a desire it seems to be a human instinct to grasp at the inklings of the world around us that could possibly, even attempt to explain our internal thoughts. The creature does exactly this as he looks upon Safie’s letters, trusting them to be “the truth of my tale”. The creature, in resemblance to a young child, is still learning the workings of society therefore it makes sense that the only way in which he thinks to tell his story in its truest, most authentic form, is in relation to a story he identifies with. In other words, identifying with a foreigner such as Safie seems to be almost logical as she, like him, is within the very cusps of discovery and curiosity. As explained on page 108, the creature learns language and literature through the teachings in which Felix bestows upon Safie, therefore, he learns with her and because he learns with her, he finds himself rather connected to the only other being he knows who is also searching for some sort of closeness to the physicality that surrounds them.

Anzaldua’s concept of borderland is one that is obvious within the intricates of the novel as she describes borderland to be of barriers both physical and mental, or in other words, invisible. These barriers exist within Frankenstein, clearly centered around the creature and unapparently around Safie as well. For Safie, the border is rather physical as she moves from one country to another, a subtle emotional barrier existing in the form of language. For the creature, however, the concept of borderland is internal. He struggles to communicate with the cottagers and with Victor because he remains unaware of how to handle emotions and it certainly doesn’t help that he carries so many.

The creature, finds himself within the letters of Safie, connecting to her story. He encounters barriers and borders among the residents of his own mind as well as the residents of the outside world and because of this, he turns toward the letters, towards the story of Safie in an attempt to not only communicate with his maker but to find reassurance that there is a piece of this world in which he could possibly belong to.

-Kaylin Insyarath

 

Edmund Burke’s idea of sympathy is very applicable to Frankenstein as one of the driving forces of the novel is the creature’s desire for sympathy and understanding from someone. I chose the last passage on page 121 starting with “When night came..” and ending with “…insupportable misery” to expand on this point.

There is a huge amount of tension in this passage between the concepts of animal and man, and the ambiguity over which category the creature falls into. Words like “howling”, “wild beast” and “stand-like” make the image of him as an animal stronger. Burke says that the difference between animals and humans is that the passions of animals “are more unmixed”, and they only require a mate to be of their species and the opposite sex, whereas humans love, and search for socially pleasing qualities as well. In this the creature is like an animal as he pleads Victor to create for him a female, and gives no regard for her beauty or nature. But unlike the animals, he doesn’t feel like he belongs in the woods, which is seen in the images of “cold stars [shining] in mockery”, “bare branches” and the tension between the “hell” inside him and the “universal stillness” outside. He is “unsympathised with” even by nature, and has very human thoughts. For instance, as his pain is so close and real, it is not at all the sublime and so to alleviate some of it he wants to “spread havoc and ruin around me, and then to have sat down and enjoyed the ruin”, as in watching from a distance the terror and distress that this would cause, he would touch upon the sublime, and also feel the “degree of delight, and that no small one, in the real misfortunes and pains of others”(Burke, Pg 42), that Burke discusses. These are entirely human tendencies.

The phrase “luxury of sensation” struck me as very interesting and odd. The “sensation” seemed to have been keeping at bay his despair, and when he had to stop it all hit him. I think this is because, as Burke says, Sense is universal and “is in all men the same, or with little difference” (Burke, Pg 13). Thus “sensation” was a luxury to the creature as it allowed him to feel as if he belonged and was the same as man, which was his deepest wish.

In the ending of this passage however, the Creature renounces this wish and declares war on all mankind. Where before he felt sympathy for humans, such as Felix, he now says that he will cease. This is because where before he wanted to be one with men, and so felt the bond of sympathy which unites all humans, here is when he declares himself separate and different. Humans didn’t think of him as one of them and so did not feel a reciprocal sympathy, and in this light he relinquishes any desire to become human and the bond of sympathy along with it. The Creature asserts himself as not a man now, as he refers to humans as a “species” separate from his own, but he has learnt too much to go back to being an animal, as he is filled with human thoughts and emotions. Thus, he is trapped somewhere in the middle without belonging to either side, he is both and neither, and this unresolved tension is what torments him throughout the rest of the novel.