Tag Archive: creature


Awaiting Damage

As we have been discussing, Frankenstein can be interpreted as a warning of climate change due to humans and the possible consequences. While the novel warns of ice as the enemy, we are currently battling against the opposite, fire. Along with destruction of homes, the fires also bring poor air quality. This situation can be interpreted through Frankenstein as another instance in which humans are fighting a force stronger than them, that requires more than just asking it to go away. Furthermore, those with breathing problems, who are more sensitive to the unhealthy air, would support the claim that creature is a symbol of the coming end, meaning that it may be possible that the air quality, and the fires themselves, will become so severe that everyone will suffer irreversible damage, ultimately causing change in the regular climate completely. We can see the damage happening now, but further, possibly greater damage, may not be noticed until much later.

By: Galilea Sanchez

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Strangers

By Jade Graham

The prompt inquires as to why the creature wants his story told through Safie’s letters. The simple answer is because he felt a connection that he hadn’t with anyone else in Shelley’s novel. The creature wants those remaining to understand his story and how he could relate to others. Yet in some ways, Safie (while a minor character) is everything the creature isn’t: alive, beautiful, and embraced by (the Delacey) family. Through her beauty, she is accepted and integrates herself into a good situation. One definitely better than before with her father. Safie becomes a part of a society and culture where the creature could only imagine about. However, once she is exiled much similar to the creature’s situation they find a common ground. Once the creature and Safie are both suffering and homeless, they experience life at its most desperate measures. Exiled and the other cast out, the two desire acceptance and family. Safie only receives this. There are two reasons, that includes beauty and social roles. The creature has neither of these. He is considered ugly and ostracized by other societies because he does not fit in by their standards.

Turkish Girl

Turkish Girl by Karl Briullov

As mentioned before, this falls in line with Safie’s appearance and her status. She is beautiful and has a role. That would be to be a part of a family, marry Felix, and continue that cycle. She’s young, a good age to marry, and already accepted into the family. The best part for Safie is, “remaining in a country where women were allowed to take a risk in society was enchanting to her.” where she could gain freedom through a marriage of Felix whom she truly does love (112). This idea of eagerly wanting to become a part of another society relates to Gloria E. Anzaldúa’s borderland theory. Safie wants to leave her past and culture behind in exchange for a better life in a new society. She and the creature want to pursue a better life and will give it all up because of their past experiences. They want to become a part of a different society and culture where they can have freedom and chances.

In Mary Shelley’s novel, Frankenstein, the character Safie, a Muslim migrant from Turkey, represents the archetypal story of the hard working ambitious immigrant fleeing their country in hopes of eluding persecution and constructing a better life for themselves and their potential offspring. Frankenstein’s creature gives Safie’s letters- a medium used in the novel to explicitly share her experiences in migrating away from Turkey- to Victor Frankenstein in order to prove “the truth of [his] tale”. Thus the creature insinuates the similarity in the oppression which Safie had endured and that which he was enduring. In doing this the creature adopts an arbitrary sense of victimization through his empathy which stems from the incomparable amount of alienation which he feels existing in a world where he feels as if he is characterized as an “other”.

I recognize the alienation which both Frankenstein’s creature and Safie face in their own regards, however, Safie story seems reasonable and although she faces various hardships she seems to strive for better- made evident in quotes such as “Safie related that her mother was a Christian Arab, seized and made a slave by the Turks” (Shelley 111.), while Frankenstein’s creature faces minimal alienation from Victor as a consequence of the creature’s potential danger being hard to distinguish. Later in the novel, the creature seems to weep with Safie after learning about the destruction of the Native American population in the United States. According to many, this insinuates the empathy that they both feel towards the Native Americans as they both feel the same sort of Western colonial oppression which faces them in Western Europe. This further propagates the idea that the creature has adopted a sort of victimhood complex in where he sees himself as the helpless victim oppressed by all who seem hostile or intolerable of his existent. The adoption of this attitude creates resentment which is perfectly manifested in the novel through the various murders which the creature commits throughout the novel. The following quotes illustrate the level of resentment breeding by adopting this “martyr complex” where one feels like the world is conspiring against them to oppress them: “Frankenstein! you belong then to my enemy–to him towards whom I have sworn eternal revenge; you shall be my first victim.” (Shelley 165), “When I thought of my friends, of the mild voice of De Lacey, the gentle eyes of Agatha, and the exquisite beauty of the Arabian, these thoughts vanished and a gush of tears somewhat soothed me. But again when I reflected that they had spurned and deserted me, anger returned, a rage of anger, and unable to injure anything human, I turned my fury towards inanimate objects. As night advanced I placed a variety of combustibles around the cottage, and after having destroyed every vestige of cultivation in the garden, I waited with forced impatience until the moon had sunk to commence my operations. ” ( Shelley 109). These quotes serve as an insight into the deluded conceptualization of the world by those who decide to play victim in the least requisite circumstances; victimhood breeds bitterness, resentfulness, and a thirst for revenge.

by Steven Gonzalez

I decided to shift my focus away from the oppression/marginalization narrative that is attributed to Frankenstein’s monster because I fundamentally disagree with the ideas presented by critical race scholars like W.E.B Dubois, Glissant, and others who seem to promote this martyrdom complex. Moreover, I fail to see the connection between Frankenstein’s monster and western imperialism and colonization.

6dsF

The Different Circumstances

In Mary Shelley’s novel we get to perceive migration and border crossing. Throughout the novel, the creature wonders off since he has been excluded from the world and stumbles upon the De Lacey family who he grows to love and respect because of the way they represent family. After educating himself he later understands how Safie and Victor are viewed differently. Safie, is a Muslim Arab migrant from Turkish who just wants to fit in a society who discriminates upon the way someone looks. In a way the creature relates to this because he has been treated as a thing who doesn’t belong. Besides he could cross the border line several times without getting into trouble by federal laws since he would not be classified as a subject. In the novel the borderline has two double meanings both for Safie and for the creature. Safie faced hardships crossing the borderline due to her barrier of language and on the other hand the creature struggles to communicate with Victor and the cottagers and that’s the borderline that’s difficult for him to cross.

For a long-time people have and still get discriminated due to their appearance and now in days we are being defined by a piece of paper and from where someone is born. For instance, Victor Frankenstein travels to several places in the novel without getting questioned if he belonged there since he is a white male and doesn’t face any obstacles doing so. On the other hand, Safie and her father who are Turkish face hardships because of their appearance. In the story, Felix helps Safie’s father who was conducting fake passports escape prison going against his military morals since he cares deeply for Safie. Spivak believed that Englishwoman and the creature were both representing the Western self and were not colonized subjects.

Moreover, towards the end of the novel the creature performs this ritual ceremony like the Native American women did when their husbands passed away and became widows. When the creature saw the dead corpse of Victor Frankenstein, he felt sadness and committed suicide. In other words, this was demonstrating the freedom of the oppressed woman according to Spivak. In committing suicide, the creature assumed the position of woman and did what he felt was right. Therefore, the creature felt most close to a woman as he identifies more to Safie in the novel than anybody else. That’s why he insists on proving “the truth of my tale” by giving a copy of the letters by Safie to Victor. Since, it bring light to the internal colonization like himself and demonstrate the inequality and discrimination.

 

-Guadalupe Andrade

In the novel, the creature forms a relationship of familiarity and understanding with Safie, a Muslim Arab migrant from Turkey. Their relationship forms through the creature learning her story while also learning English along side her. They are both similar in that they are outsiders leaning the language and ways of a Christian man, Felix.

Their situation can be associated with the ideas of Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o, who believed in the importance of staying true to one’s native language, especially through writing. The creature shares that Safie seemed to, “have a language of her own, she was neither understood by, nor herself understood the cottagers” (106). I believe that Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o would disapprove of Safie, as well as the creature, taking on a new language. Even if the creature never had a specific language to begin with. I feel he would see the creature’s situation as a  lost opportunity to create a new language if his own, that he could then teach to others like Safie, and in that way create a bond with those wished to reject colonization.

The creature insists on proving his story by giving Victor (and, indirectly, Walton) a copy of the letters because they hold the truths of both their struggles as well as their accomplishment in learning a language. In addition they demonstrate that although Safie and the creature may be the victims of internal colonization but, they will, for the time being, use it to their advantage.

By Galilea Sanchez.

Inhabitants of the borderland, as defined by Anzaldua are described as barriers of the physical and mental, or the invisible. These barriers are represented in the creature, as well as Safie since both of them have felt invisible as demonstrated in the novel. The borders are physical for Safie because she moves from France to Turkey due to her father’s political messiness, the barrier of language exists here. The creature on the other hand, struggles to communicate with people because he is unaware of how to handle his emotions.

The creature comes across his creator’s corpse at the end of the novel and he is so overwhelmed with sympathy that he commits suicide. According to Spivak, this is a representation of a Native American ritual where after her husband’s death the widow would be expected to jump into the fire. By doing this it was a demonstration of the ideology of freedom for the oppressed woman. Safie didn’t want to be oppressed, education was her lifeline. The creature assumes the position of this foreign female, Safie as education is to his lifeline and he commits suicide after seeing his creator as the widows were expected too.

On page 108, in Frankenstein, we learn that the way the creature learned language was through Victor’s teaching to Safie. The creature insists on proving “the truth of my tale” by giving a copy of the letters by Safie to Victor because it helps prove the internal colonization of others like himself and how they demonstrate the injustice they all faced (Shelley 111). It seems to make the most sense for the creature to tell his tale through the letters of Safie because he most identifies with her in the novel.

-Alina Cantero

Sexual Identity

 

Image result for frankenstein and monster

In Jessica Fisher’s blog, “I am Frankenstein’s Monster: An echo of Susan Stryker’s call to action” she evaluates Mary Shelley’s “Frankenstein” through a lens of the gender identity of Victor Frankenstein and the creature. Fisher asserts in the novel Victor is a representation queer, transgender and asexual, pan romanticism in the form intimidation and discreteness they go through. The creature itself is a representation of the emotional and isolation they are faced with in the real world. Victor Frankenstein is unconscious, but through his actions, the reader is able to become unaware of manifestation between Victor and his suppressed sexual life.

At first glance in the novel, the relationship between Victor Frankenstein and Henry Clerval is that of childhood friends which are built with trust and happiness. It is a common belief in society that friends are people who individuals who build bonds and are everlasting. However, through Fisher’s lens of “Frankenstein” an alternate perspective is shown. In “Frankenstein” when Victor departures to the University of Ingolstadt Henry begs his father to allow him to leave with Victor, but is not allowed, “He said little; when he spoke, I read in his kindling eye and in animated glance a restrained but firm resolve, chained with miserable details” (Shelley 51) Victor describes Henry using the words, “kindling eyes”, “animated glance” and “miserable”. Traditional gender roles in the seventeenth century are between a man and a woman, yet Victor begins to show attraction and affection towards his childhood friend. Victor describes Henry through his physical feature at that moment asserting that he had “Kindling eyes” and “animated glance” meaning that he finds Henry charming. These words are usually said to a woman, not a man. Victor exposes his subconscious thought in this particular moment, talking in the second person.  He is hiding sexual identity from everyone, he is attracted to his same gender rather than the opposite, but is afraid of exposing it. Furthermore, he begins to show emotion through the use of a long sentence and sentence structure, semicolons, and commas. As the sentence proceeds the reader is met with first, a semicolon which he states that Henry did not say much and brings the sentence to an untimely stop. Victor than continues after this pause and states three more words than the sentence comes to another stop, having sorrow for his friend. The sentence after begins to flow but continues, but then again comes to another stop. The comas emphasis Victor emotion running high as he struggles to finish a sentence and must come to stop to allow him not to break down. Sadness running through his mind, he can not bear the feeling of departing from his friend, but he is able to leave Elizabeth without having so much emotion. Further, in the novel, Henry visits Victor and finds him very ill and he proceeds to, help him heal the whole winter, “how good you are to me. This whole winter, instead of being spent in the study”(Shelley 64) he was “consumed in a sick room” (Shelley 64) asserting that they both care immensely for each other. Victor is brought back to life by his friend and the happiness that he feels just by seeing him, never does Elizabeth come to his mind. Victor only shining a light on his feelings when he is seen with Henry. Here is were Susan Stryker’s asserts that a person who is transgender life becomes difficult as they are not welcomed and are unsociable in society. Here is were Fisher asserts that “Filisa shouldn’t have faced the loneliness that rejection no doubt brought.” In society many view sexual identity as a mental illness, to which Victor is not willing to sacrifice his straight image in society as he will be met with backlash. Victor keeps his sexual life private and is not willing to expose his affection towards Henry as what awaits is loneliness and rejection. Though his affection towards Henry is seen through the whole novel and the connection to the creature and the purpose of its creation.

Upon the creature being created, we see a sense of confusion with the world and the search for acceptance from any human. He begins to head to Geneva hoping that his creation will understand hand hears what he has to say and ultimately accept him. When the monster begins to tell his story he mentions an encounter he had with humans, a small little girl slips into a stream and is about to drown and he comes to save her, yet the man that she is with sees a “monster” in his eyes and continues to shoot him, instead of acknowledging what he did. The creature then continues to state, “This is the reward of my benevolence! I had saved a human being from destruction, and, as a recompense, I now writhed under the miserable pain of a wound,” (Shelley 125) Full with frustration and confusion as he uses an exclamation mark to emphasis on why did this occur to him, the creature had nothing but good intention. Hoping to be “normal” through his actions, yet finds that it is not possible for him to ever be normal. The creature was hoping to gain acceptance but was left even more emotionally and physically hurt, paralleling with Fisher’s critique of the situation Filisa’s suicide. She asserts that “What drove her to such despair was the exclusion she experienced in Seattle’s queer community, some members of which opposed Filisa’s participation because of her transsexuality — even though she identified as and lived as a bisexual woman.” Fisher addressing that trans and queer can never be viewed as normal, which creates rage or  “Transgender Rage”. Filisa was doing what she believed to be an environment where she was going to accepted, she was faced with a barrier. Filisa was opposed by others whom she thought would be accepting. As the creature could not understand why he could not be human, he continues to take this experience and leave to Geneva with anger in his mind. A parallel exists as Victor who is the creator of the creature does not accept the creature. Which creates this rage in Filisa and the creature.

Levit Martinez

 

Bianca Lopez Munoz

Isolation is on of Frankenstein’s biggest themes. We see it through Victor’s ambitious scientific endevour and within the creature as they wander around the world. As Stryker mentioned, trans individuals are isolated not only from ‘normal’ society, but also the LGBT+ community AND as Jessica said, this non-acceptance and lonliness is what causes 40% of trans folks to attempt suicide.

“I was dependant of none, and related to none ‘The path of my departure was free; and there was none to lament my annihilation. My person was hideous and my stature gigantic: what did this mean? Who was I? What was I? Whence did I come? What was my destination? These questions continually recurred, but I was unable to solve them” (Shelley, 115).

The creature did not have a person or community to depend on as a support system, they only had themselves to teach itself and try and define who they are. But based on what they learned from books and watching society, they concluded that they are unatural and a monster. ‘there was none to lament my annihilation’ reminds me not just of that statistic about suicide but also of the violence that threatens trans people’s lives on the daily. People are murdered everyday and I feel rage within me that people don’t care enough about the issue. The creature describes themselves as ‘hideous’ and ‘gigantic’ this sort of reminds me of the gender dysphoria that trans people often feel about their body. Gender dysphoria is an uneasy, distressing feeling that a person sometimes feels when their genitals or secondary sex characteristics do not match their internal gender identity. Not only does this cause a lot of anxiety, but when a trans individual doesn’t ‘pass’ as the gender they are wanting to present, it can possibly spark violence against them and this can cause more anxiety and depression. The ‘who, what, where, whence, and why’ is the creature trying to give and find themselves an identity and a purpose. They stuggle to answer these questions because they don’t have the answers within the books and the ‘normal society’ and they know no one like themselves, so they are very isolated. Throughout this blog post I’ve been refering to the creature as ‘they’ instead of ‘it’ as I have done in my past blog posts and I find that interesting because through the trans lense of both Stryker’s and Jessica’s pieces, I became sort of aware of my language so, by refering to the creature as ‘they’, it feels like I’m doing them more justice than identifying them as an just an ‘it’. And referring to them as a ‘he’ hasn’t sat with me well in all of my analysis of this book so I think I’ll continue to refer to the creature with they/them pronouns.

Frankenstein

As for the oddities I’ve noticed in the original 1831 Frontispiece to Frankenstein, this might be my own perverse eye, BUT, the window in the background seems to have about 7 possible phallic symbols. The creature is looking down,confused, possibly between their legs. I’m assuming this is the scene where the creature is animated and Victor runs away. Understandably, the creature is confused and disoriented from just being ‘born’ but the confusion and the direction that the confusion if directed at could be interpreted as a trans person being dysphoric/confused/uneasy as to why they have they genitals that have when it doesn’t coorelate with their internal identity.

See the source image

In Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, we know that the Creature is victim to a society that alienates it because of its difference in appearance. But what does this have in connection with gender and sexuality as described through the eyes of a transsexual individual?

Jessica Rae Fisher, a trans woman writer, voices her journey in finding herself through both Frankenstein and an essay written by Susan Striker within her blog post I am Frankenstein’s Monster: An echo of Susan Striker’s call to action. She speaks about the comparing of transgender people to Victor Frankenstein’s creation and how “[she] was enthralled” when first hearing of the idea. Fisher’s experience with this idea began with her exposure to an excerpt in Striker’s essay, My Words To Victor Frankenstein Above The Village Of Chamounix: Performing Transgender Rage,  that spoke about “a transsexual woman in Seattle [who] wrote in her journal, ‘I wish I was anatomically ‘normal’ so I could go swimming…But no, I’m a mutant, Frankenstein’s monster'” (Striker, 246). What really stood out to Fisher was the fact that this woman was driven to suicide two months after documenting this thought and it made her wonder, back when she was a 19 or 20 year old reading about it, whether she “would live past 22”. Although she has now surpassed the age she doubted living to, Fisher stresses that the transgender community is yet to be accepted and instead “remain no more than monsters”. Despite this, Fisher clings to other excerpts from Striker’s essay that speak of “asserting [ones] worth as a monster” and “[allowing your] rage [to] inform your actions and your actions transform you as you struggle to transform the world” (Striker, 254).

Now, you may be thinking, “How exactly does this connect with Frankenstein?’. Well, in the same way that Fisher explains what transgender individuals go though when dealing with society, Shelley depicts when writing about the Creatures first encounter with humans. The Creature, abandoned by its creator and left to fend for its own, encounters some villagers of which it frightens causing “the whole village [to be] roused; some fled, some attacked [it]” (Shelley, 98). This treatment of the Creature is similar to that of the woman from Seattle that Fisher speaks about in her blog post when she says, “What drove her to such despair was the exclusion she experienced in Seattle’s queer community, some members of which opposed Filisa’s participation because of her transsexuality”.  Here, although not physically, this woman was attacked like the Creature was at the hands of the villagers. Similarly, Victor abandoned his creation and left it to fend for its own the night he finally succeeded in giving the Creature life, “not [daring] to return to the apartment which [he] inhabited” (Shelley, 61). This mirrors Fisher’s information regarding The Seattle Bisexual Women’s Network when they “announced that if it admitted transsexuals, it would no longer be a woman’s organization” and that “the boys can take care of themselves”. Both this woman in Seattle and the Creature in Frankenstein were left on their own, alienated because of their subjective “differences” to society.

In the end, it is undoubtedly true that we live in a society full of unacceptance and exclusion for all those of which fail to conform to the “norm”. If you are different to what is viewed as “common” what is in store for you is labeling and use of false pronouns and “neopronouns”. However, Fisher makes it clear that what is to be learned here is “we should reclaim the words monster and creature. I think that if the villager want to see us as unnatural, that we should embrace that”. Being different is something that has proven to be difficult, but accepting that you are not “normal” is what will ultimately help you live though it.

– Juanita Espinoza

In Mary Shelley’s novel Frankenstein, we witness the struggle of the creature in society. He is constantly attacked by name calling and commentary on his appearance. He is referred to as a “monster” and/or “creature” with hideous physical features. This entire novel is flooded with quotes on appearance which leads me to “My Words To Victor Frankenstein Above The Village Of Chamounix: Performing Transgender Rage” by Susan Stryker.

Stryker’s essay sheds light on her coming to terms with herself as a member of a cruel, toxic, society we currently live in and always have. Jessica Rae Fisher, a transgender woman also writes about her personal findings within herself after reading Stryker’s essay. Both Stryker and Fisher are members of a society in which they were marginalized and shunned based on their differences and realistically, appearance. The creature in Shelley’s novel  was not shut out from society and treated like shit because of his personality or inner self, no. It was solely his appearance that made people run away from him and not want to approach him. The creature, Fisher, Stryker, Filisia, and thousands of people around the world feel as if they are outcasts from society. Why does this happen? When can we live in a society in which we can accept and love everyone DESPITE their differences? What all of these people had in common to get over their pain, misery, and sorrow due to this social rejection was to feel rage.

In Stryker’s essay,  transgender rage is defined as when “the inability to foreclose the subject occurs through a failure to satisfy norms of gendered embodiment” (Stryker 249). Rage does not always have to be negative or seen as negative, but its rather what you make out of it. Rage can range on a spectrum. Like Fisher, you can rage to your favorite type of music and let that be an outlet for you. Or in Filsia’s case, your rage can burden you and put you in a  state in which you no longer want to live anymore and she sadly, took her own life. Stryker states,”May you discover the enlivening power of darkness within yourself. May it nourish your rage. May your rage inform your actions, and your actions transform you as you struggle to transform your world” (254). Rage is justified. In the creature’s case, I personally believe his rage was justifiable. He was abused and mistreated time and time again. Used by his creator and left in the world alone to find himself. His rage was murdering those Victor loved. Rage can vary and if one does not find an outlet, a positive one, one they can grow from, then their rage can easily become a means for vengeance.

We live in a society and have always lived in a society in which the “best” get by easily. Having good hair, lighter complexion, nice body, “good” features, most things one cannot control (unless you get plastic surgery) makes you superior to others? Gives you privilege? It’s genetics, it’s your biology, people only have control over so much. But because you may be transgender, disabled, vertically challenged, whatever you may be, if you are not seen as whatever society wants you to be, you’re an outcast.

Because I have so much to say, let me trail back to Fisher and Stryker. They bring up a great point  which is taking what people use against you and embracing it. Transgenders are called creatures, monsters, trannies, and the list goes on. These two authors believe that there is power in ignoring those who mock you and belittle you and rising above them by empowering oneself. If they take the words that people use against them and claim them as theirs, what do these haters have left to say? Nothing. Love yourself, affirm yourself, if you don’t, who will? Not this society, clearly. Own who you are and be unapologetically YOU.

-Rahma Kohin