Tag Archive: critcism


frank

In ” The ‘Workshop of Filthy Creation’: A Marxist Reading Of Frankenstein by Warren Montag it concludes by saying the creature is “not so much the sign of the proletariat as of its unrepresentability” (480). I disagree with what Warren said because the creature does represent the proletariat because he did not have anything to his name. Most proletariats had a hard time owning stuff because of the bourgeoisie. In Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, the creature realizes that “A man might be respected with one of these advantages” (109) the advantages the creature is referring to are possessions and wealth. He even knows that if someone does not have this they are considered a slave and will have to work for the people who are in power (109).

The creature is part of the proletariats because he “possessed no money, no friends, no kind of property” (109). He knows it is important to have these things to be considered valuable because the more belongings one has the more powerful they are. The bourgeoisie have all these qualities, but never do any of the hard labor that the working class has to do. They exploit the working class and never give them enough money. Nobody would want to give the creature a job because of the way he looks. Being unemployed was a struggle that a lot of proletariats had to go through. The creature was also homeless and had to look for his food to survive because nobody is going to give him anything. The creature did not have anything from the moment he was created, just like many proletariats they have little to nothing. Victor constructed the creature for his own convenience, which symbolizes how the creature is only property 

-Marycarmen Nieto

Advertisements

Historical Context and Marxist Literary Criticism

Marxism, simply put, is the perpetual struggle between antagonistic social forces. But, as Montag points out, the struggle “is not the same throughout history, it takes many forms… follows no rules and obeys no logic” (389). Literary works express a specific form of the struggle, and in the case of Frankenstein the struggle is, ostensibly, between the upper class, personified by Frankenstein, and the lower working class, personified by the monster. When considering the historical context on a basic level, this notion is well supported and reinforced.

In my opinion the two major historical events that are intrinsic to this novel are the French Revolution and Industrial Revolution, with each constructing and molding the character of Frankenstein and the character of the monster. The French Revolution was supposed to be the emergence of the elite land-owning/monied class over the monarchy, an emergence made possible by the working class masses. However, this turned out to be an idyllic, since in reality the masses became uncontrollable, and in fact in many ways blocked the emergence of the land-owning/monied class. This strongly parallels the novel: Frankenstein in an attempt to create a race of humanoids that would allow him to surpass his own societal and scientific constraints, he creates Frankenstein, a creature that Montag notes, ironically reverses “Frankenstein’s position…clearest when his creation, far more powerful than he, calls him slave” (390). The monster not only stymies Frankenstein’s progress, but in fact reverses it in many aspects, as Frankenstein witnesses his creation kill intermittently, and wield his strength to control and extort Frankenstein himself.

The context of the Industrial Revolution reveals much about the working lower class construct of the monster. The Industrial Revolution led the extinction of the rural working class, which enjoyed a relatively peaceful and unperturbed existence. But science and rapid industrialization led to the existence of a new working class: the industrial working class. This new class did not enjoy the few privileges afforded by the rural class, and instead became locked in a terrible cycle of unemployment and higher cost of living that coincided with the technological progress and the prosperity of the upper classes. The creature, much like the industrial working class was borne from the labors of science, and that very science has trapped it in a cycle of misery and alienation. Its very existence is an affront, and the propagation of its race (the creature’s desire for a female counterpart) is something the creature feels is necessary. The propagation can only be carried out by the one element, Frankenstein that refuses to further destroy infringe on nature, or to put it in the context of the upper class construct, preserve the status quo.

Montag claims that “not so much the sign of the proletariat as of its unrepresentability”. Montag however claims that this antagonism takes a different form. Rather than the active representation of working class by Frankenstein, Montag claims that Frankenstein really represents the absence of the working class. This is an attempt by Montag to reconcile the fact that the monster has no voice and the very depiction of him as a monster reduces his ability to represent the proletariat. This might be true if the above historical context is not taken into consideration, and the character of Frankenstein is examined as a stand-alone. However, when taking historical context and the monster’s relation to Frankenstein into consideration, the novel presents a clear cut and active antagonism between the upper class and the working lower class, as presented by the struggle between Frankenstein and his monster.