Tag Archive: critical race studies


Outsiders

 

Bringing the subject of critical race studies brings upon a whole new interpretation of Mary Shelley’s “Frankenstein”. Looking at the characters from the novel “Frankenstein” through the lens of the studies of W.E.B. Du Bois and Ngugi Wa Thiong’o ideas of double consciousness and the victim’s internal colonization we are able to further understand them. Primarily focusing on the characters of the creature and Safie. Safie being an adopted member of the De Lacy family and the creature attachment and sympathy for her. There exist a parallel between both pilgrimages and experiences as they are subjects of colonization.

Upon the creature sharing his story to Frankenstein, he exposes the letters that he asserts will give his side of the story. The monster asserts that this will “truth of my tale”, illuminating his journey since he awakens to this new place he has no knowledge of. Safie is a Muslim Arab migrant from Turkey which parallels with the creature as they both are in a place which they nothing of. Both having no education have no established social role in society since they do not know the basics communication, “I soon perceived, that although of her own, she neither sounded and appeared to have a language of her own, she was neither understood by nor herself understood the cottagers.” (Shelley 106). W.E.B. Du Bois teaching is illuminated as double consciousness is seen through the lens of Safie as she views herself through the lens cottagers as she is always aware that she is unable to communicate with them. The creature itself is always aware that people will view him as a monster and now holds the stereotype of being dangerous and destructive through his experiences and is now aware that anywhere he appears the people will be quick to judge him.

Furthermore, they both are “left alone, unacquainted” providing an insight into the way society views those who do not assimilate. For them to be heard they must assimilate into this place but must give something in return without being conscious of the price. The monster takes the opportunity to acquire the language when he is in hiding and in watching, “I should make use of the same instructions”. (Shelley 107) They both begin the process of assimilation as the creature begins to see Felix teach Safie a westernized education,“The book from which Felix instructed Safie was Volney’s ‘Ruins of Empires’”(Shelley 108) Felix and the creature are not aware what is occurring, they are unaware  that in the process of learning a new language they will slowly lose their culture and identity as they will become part of this society. Ngugi Wa Thiong express that Kenyan child for becoming fluent in British English, not in their tribal language, which marks this assimilation to another culture, as they begin to what Ngugi asserts that they will lose their identity and gain an identity that is given to them by the colonizer. Here is where the connection is seen through the lens of Ngugi and the novel “Frankenstein” as Ngugi is underlining that in similar ways the Safie’s and the creature are being assimilated by western ideologies.

Upon the weeping of Safie, the creature joins her. They are able to see that they are products of colonization. They both are strangers in a place they could not even communicate without assimilation to their way of life. Safie cry because here is where they become aware of the process of colonization. The creature shows emotion because he relates himself to her segregation.

-Levit Martinez

In lecture, we discussed how the book Frankenstein by Mary Shelley might not be a story about a creature coming to life, but something deeper than that. It is a story about immigration and border crossing. The creature and Safie, a Muslim Arab migrant from Turkey, have a lot of things in common like not knowing the language that the cottagers speak, not knowing how the society/lifestyle of the people and trying to belong in this new place. W.E.B Du Bois talks about “double consciousness”, as “this sense of always looking at one’s self through the eyes of others.” This idea is that we are never really looking at ourselves through our own perspectives but the perspective of a white person. By doing this we are belittling ourself and making ourselves feel less than what we truly are and are creating two identities for ourselves.

The creature and Safie are both two lost souls in this cruel world that has obstacles for them to face. Safie is a female which makes life complicated because of gender differences, women are thought as less than men. The creature is its own species which makes it difficult for him to belong in a group because there is no one like him. Safie and the creature are immigrants to their new worlds and have to cross borders to feel like they belong into this world. Safie has to learn a new language to communicate with Felix and his family. The creature benefits from these lessons because he self-teaches himself the language. Many immigrants in today’s world have to go to classes to learn English or teach themselves because they understand that without being able to speak English it holds them back from many opportunities.

The creature insists in proving “the truth of my tale” by giving Victor a copy of letters by Safie because he does not want Victor to white-wash his story. The creature wants the world to know his true story from his perspective and not from the perspective of Victor. Victor will dehumanize the creature and make him seem dangerous when in reality the creature was a foreigner into the place where he was brought to life. Victor will make the story about himself and how he felt threatened by the creature when all the creature really wanted was to be accepted and loved. The creature relates to Safie and her struggles in this new world and gives Victors her letters as proof of the things he had to overcome. The creature is an immigrant in this story and wants his story (as an immigrant) to be told instead of it being told by a white man, just like how all our history is told by the white man’s perspective. We never rarely hear the side of the minority because everything is white-washed in history and life.

-Marycarmen Nieto