Tag Archive: Emotion


Exulting in Death

The last two paragraphs of Frankenstein give a stark description of the effects of intense and prolonged social rejection on an individual. Social rejection has the potential to emotionally pain a person so badly that they feel the emotional pain far outweighs any physical pain or fear of death. “Sad and solemn enthusiasm,” seems to be quite a contradiction. Normally, “enthusiasm” would be associated with words like “excitement,” “happy,” and “joy.” In most contexts, enthusiasm is a positive looking-forward to something. However, the creature’s enthusiasm is for his death. If he ever feared death, he no longer fears it now. He looks forward to it. The creature also says he will, “exult in the agony of the torturing flames.” “Exult” is another word with normally positive connotations, and “agony” and “torturing” normally has negative connotations. The pairing of these contradictory connotations reveals the creature has truly lost his desire for life, and that he will only find joy or happiness in death.

The creature’s existence has become painful to him. Exacting revenge against his creator was not enough to make up for the fact that society completely and utterly rejected him. That rejection is so painful that the creature wants to, “ascend [his] funeral pile triumphantly and exult in the agony of the torturing flames.” “Torturing flames” could be taken as a reference to hell, which would imply that the creature would be happier in hell than on Earth. A more literal interpretation would be the creature’s cremation. However, the creature doesn’t have anyone to light his funeral pile for him after his death. Therefore, if he truly desires and plans to revel in the flames, he has to light the fire himself. He will have to burn himself alive. The pain of rejection by society and his creator is as or even more intense than being burned alive. Because he has been shown repeatedly that he has no place, the creature desires death.

Advertisements

hojoMad scientists are not about the messy work. What would be the point of killing off innocent people when you have the ability to create something that can do the dirty work for you? This is how I perceived the idea and the creation of the creature in the mind of Victor Frankenstein before reading the book. I believed that, like any normal evil genius, Frankenstein created the large male creature to terrorize Europe through the killing of several individuals. The creature was just a tool for executing the plans that Frankenstein had so carefully planned out. The real story however, crushed every hope I had of Victor becoming the next big villain.

There are so many facets to the story that have collectively destroyed my perception of Frankenstein and his creature. The biggest misconception I had was that Frankenstein and the creature were on the same page as it came to their plans. I waited so patiently for the evil laugh to spill out of Frankenstein’s mouth after his weapon was brought to life but instead I received squeals of panic. The creature and the creator were at no point on the same team and the Victor made sure the creature knew. This created a massive rift in my ideas because the creature was no longer a weapon for Frankenstein in my mind; the creature was a mistake.

The second issue I picked up on as it came to my ideas was that in order to create a killing machine that machine should not have the ability to feel. Feelings like remorse for example, affect those who do things and in this case, negative things. By creating a monster that had the ability to feel emotions, the monster was not designed to be a cold hard killer. While it is true that the monster killed several people, his reasons for those killings were entrenched in his rage for his creator who had neglected him. He did not kill because he was told to but because his emotions, a very human quality, got the most of him. Frankenstein never intended to create an evil monster because he himself was not evil, so the monster was given human emotion. No weapon of destruction should have emotions because they would then feel bad about the destruction and this is how the creature feels at the end of the novel.

Perceptions are made by everyone daily. It is a part of our lives. This example of my shattered reality however, brings to light the saying that one should not judge a book by its cover. In this case of this actual book, I used what I commonly see in other stories to determine the relationship between Frankenstein and his creature and the book proved me otherwise.

A Child’s Toy?

 

I cannot reconcile the chilling melancholy I felt while reading Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein with the green plastic figurines found in the children’s toy aisle. I find it so peculiar and rather unsettling that such a complex literary figure would be considered an acceptable amusement for children. The story itself, which requires a high level of emotional and intellectual maturity for comprehension, is evidently not appropriate material for the young children who dress in the monster’s likeness for Halloween. I believe Frankenstein’s somewhat comical, grotesque appearance in children’s toys and cartoons testifies to our culture’s subconscious efforts to obscure the true terror that the monster incites by attributing the cause of fear to his brutish form and threatening manners. Frankenstein is not scary because he is a monster. Frankenstein is scary because he is human. He expresses, in such an eloquent and thoughtful manner, the desires and emotions we recognize as our own: compassion, loneliness, and the desires for acceptance or companionship. The sense of familiarity toward a being of such dissimilar origin and demeanor is what disturbs us most. So, we impose a stereotype on the monster as a beast inferior in both manner and physicality, bearing no intellectual resemblance to humans, in order to avoid confrontation with this truth, that Frankenstein might be just as, or perhaps even more, human than we are.

Source for the image: www.degrotespeelgoedwinkel.nl/producten/01-411-9466_4/groot/9466-lego-monster-fighters-frankenstein.jpg

Throughout the semster we have viewed Frankenstein through many different lenses of literary criticism in an attempt to discover what could be signified by this historical and influential text. The novel as a whole is significant, and we tend to use the different forms of criticism to evenly analyze the many different parts of this work, but when I look back at my blog posts, I find that I often chose to focus on the monster’s interactions with the de Lacey family as a central point to my analyses.

In regards to the de Lacey family, a very interesting parallel is occuring. On one side of this are the monster’s violent mood swings that he experiences upon his interactions with the family: just as Safie’s music “at once drew tears of sorrow and delight from my eyes” (107), the observances of the de Laceys “were a mixture of pain and pleasure, such as I had never before experienced” (100). The monster is simultaneously delighted and thrown into a pit of despair by these humans. He worships their values of goodness and kindness, but become wretched when he realizes that he will never be able to become one of them.

On the other side of this parallel (which may perhaps be the manifestation of the conflicting emotions described above), is the transformation of the monster due to his interactions with the de Laceys. The monster says: “I shall relate events, that impressed me with feelings which, from what I had been, have made me what I am” (106), when describing his relations with the family. Initially a benevolent and innocent creature, the monster learns of the ways of humans, and in particular what he perceives to be the extreme kindness of the de Laceys. When he is unable to gain their acceptance, his hopes are crushed and he becomes violent. Just as happiness and despair coincide in the monster, so do the potential for both kindness and violence, emotions manifested in actions.

The conflicts that rage throughout the monster in regards to the de Lacey family eventually cause the monster to snap, and the turning point of the novel to be reached. Prior to his interactions with the family, the monster is naive and benign, a mere nomad, simply satiating his instinctual desires. But following his studies and observances of the family, the monster learns of more than just instinct: he knows what it means to be spurned and rejected, and gives vent to his feelings of anguish, hatred, and vengeance. Without observing the de Laceys, there is the chance that the monster would have remained in the former state, leaving Frankenstein alone, and thus the novel would not be the novel that we have been studying all semester.

The turning point caused by the de Laceys could find its basis in many of the fields of literary criticism, but it has strong connections to ideas of the psychological. The monster’s passionate and varied surges of emotion – euphoria, happiness, sadness, anger, fear, hatred – respresent an unstable base that eventually cause him to snap and hence, the turning point. The de Lacey’s importance is that they create this unstable base, and then allow it to fall. Without them, the monster may not even have formed breakable emotions in the first place. The psychological automatically leads to Freud and his ideas of psychoanalysis: “from a psychoanalytic perspective, boys learn oedipally through identifying with the father and his threat of castration, the threat that originates concepts like honor and law” (Parker 135). This quote demonstrates the origination of higher concepts through the psychological processes of the psychoanalytic, and mirrors the monster’s learning of the higher concepts of emotion and human society through his observances and psychological processes in relation to the de Laceys. The de Laceys teach the monster everything that he knows about humanity and thus model the oedipal stage that the monster must go through in order to learn about these “higher concepts”. Once the monster has learned, the turning point is reached, demonstrating the de Lacey’s intense importance in the novel.