Tag Archive: communication

New Language, New World

The more that I discovered about critical race theories, specifically Gloria Anzaldúa’s ideas on “new mestizos” and her work “How to Tame a Wild Tongue”, the clearer it became as to why the creature in Shelley’s “Frankenstein” insisted on making sure his truth and tale were heard and sharing Safie’s letters with his creator. In “How to Tame a Wild Tongue” Anzaldúa argues for “the ways in which identity is intertwined with the way we speak and for the ways people can be made to feel ashamed of their own tongues.” (1) The idea she introduces of “new mestizo” revolves around people who inhabit multiple worlds due to gender, ethnicity, body, and/or other life experiences. She believes that tongue, or language, is extremely important when it comes to asserting one’s place in society and the way we function within it. When we learn language it allows us to enter into a new world along with other worlds we might already exist among. Gloria states in “How to Tame a Wild Tongue”, “A language which they can connect their identity to, one capable of communicating the realities and values true to themselves” (4). With this, I believe she argues that language is a thread people have that ties them to their identity – because after all, it is what allows us to express our thoughts, worries, and problems with other people. She later states, “Now that we had a name, some of the fragmented pieces began to fall together – who we were, what we were, how we had evolved.” She says that due to her established language, and her understanding of it and her use of it to communicate, she was finally able to understand herself and her place in the world. I think this is highly important if we connect these same ideas to the creature in Shelley’s “Frankenstein”.

In “Frankenstein”, the creature is abandoned by his creator and becomes aware of his inability to understand the language of the society he was forced to inhabit and recognizes his inability to communicate with those around him in order to explain himself and his situation – this inability then leads him to get beaten and attacked by the villagers who find him. That instance is what drives the creature to eventually have the urge to become educated and dominant of the language he so desperately needed to understand if he wanted to function within society. With this, I was able to conclude that due to the creature’s inability to comprehend language he had no set identity and he was incapable of affirming a solid place in his society because he yet had no way to express himself, his thoughts, or what had driven/gotten him to that point he was in. The creature was aware of how important language was going to be for him if he wanted to exist among the current society and we see it when he says, “I ought not to make the attempt until I had first become master of their language; which knowledge might enable me to make them overlook the deformity of my figure” (104). He refused to approach the villagers he admired before he mastered their language because he believed that by mastering it beforehand, they would look past his deformity because he would have the ability to explain himself and have a way to roam society and communicate. This is important to why he insisted on being heard – he was finally able to master the very thing that prevented him from being a complete member of society. He had now become a part of what Gloria would call “new mestizo” because he was entering a new world he wasn’t a part of before. So when he was finally able to learn the language, he wanted to make sure he used it to explain himself and communicate. He used Safie’s letters in order for Victor to see his situation in a different light and perspective considering he and Safie had experienced the same type of isolation due to language barriers. Overall, i believe we can see Gloria’s theory of “new mestizo” within Victor Frankenstein’s creation because once he moves past the language barrier, he inhabits multiple worlds within society as it allows him to become a member of it, finally.

-Beverly Miranda

Justice By Means of Truth

In his work, “Enquiry Concerning Political Justice” William Godwin argues that the only way humanity and mankind will progress and evolve smoothly is if they begin to value communication, truth and reason above all other virtues. He states, “If there be any force in the arguments of this work, we seem authorized to deduce thus much from them, that truth is irresistible. Let then this axiom be the rudder of our undertakings” (789) thus showing how much he valued the act of truth. Godwin believed that truth and reason should govern the way in which disputes were settled and only through reason/truth would justice be achieved. His view relies on the idea that reason, truth and communication above all other things would decide the best course of action for everyone. Godwin also emphasized on the importance of communication when he said, “We should communicate our sentiments with the utmost frankness. We should endeavour to press them upon the attention of others.” (790) He thought that through communication, and people’s willingness to shed their selfish natures, society would be able to progress and move forward. Therefore, when we view Justine’s death in Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein under Godwin’s lense, we notice that Shelley is affirming her father’s beliefs and through Victor’s selfishness and inability to communicate or tell the truth, he was unable to meet up to Godwin’s beliefs and therefore created a setback for the progression of society – which was represented by Justine.

The death of Justine not only holds significance because it was the second death of the novel due to the acts of the monster but it also represents the failure to serve justice due to lack of truth and communication, just as Godwin feared. Justine, who was wrongfully accused for the murder of William, was being sentenced to death due to her false confession and the fact that it was her word (a woman’s) against those who accused her. Victor Frankenstein is tormented by these facts the day before her sentence because he knows the truth regarding the actual murderer and who is truly responsible – and it is himself just as much as the creature. Victor states, “But I, the true murderer, felt the never dying worm alive in my bosom, which allowed of no hope or consolation” (84) and this is when his guilt and anguish truly began. He later states, “Anguish and despair had penetrated into the core of my heart; I bore a hell within me, which nothing could extinguish.” (84) showing just how much the truth was beginning to torment him. Yet we ask ourselves, why didn’t Victor just bring himself to tell the truth and confess? I believe it is because Mary Shelley was demonstrating the idea her father was well known for, the idea that when society lacks communication, reason, and truth justice will not be attained and there will be a disturbance in society. She is demonstrating that without any of Godwin’s important virtues, innocent members of society would suffer due to lack of knowledge and rationalization. Not only that, but she is also affirming the idea that selfishness in people is what causes setbacks for society to be able to progress. In this scene, I believe Victor was acting as a setback for society because due to his selfish nature, and selfishness fogging his reasoning kept justice from being served for Justine. Overall, through the use of Victor’s anguish and despair, and yet his inability to tell the truth to spare Justine’s life, Shelley reflects her father’s ideas and deeply rooted beliefs. She uses Justine’s unfair death as a way of representing not only that violence led to her unjust death but also how the course of action was greatly altered due to Frankenstein being unable to prioritize truth in his decision and therefore Justine’s fall also signals the fall of justice. I also believe Shelley used Justine’s death as a mean to reflect on what was her current society and the fact that revolution had altered the lives of many simply because society refused to communicate and didn’t place much importance on the ideas of communication, truth, and reason – like her father hoped for. Overall, I believe that through Justine’s death Shelley was using her father’s ideas and beliefs in her work to prove to society why that course of thinking was still relevant to their time.

-Beverly Miranda-Galindo