Tag Archive: Frankenstein’s monster


Reversal

Tania De Lira-Miranda 

hidden-brain-compassion

There’s a peaceful silence that fills the room as the only sound is the occasional rustling of papers when Adam turns the pages of his book and of a pen scratching paper whenever Adam puts his book down to take notes of what he just read. This continues for a few minutes until Adam puts down his quill and closes the book, pushing his chair away from his desk to stand up and stretch out his limbs. After spending months poring over what seemed to be hundreds of books and staying up countless nights to write down carefully detailed notes, Adam is finally done with his research.

He begins to clean up his desk: straightening out the stack of note-filled paper, shoving the unused paper into his desk’s drawer, and taking the books that were littered around his desk to their designated spot of his bookshelf. When he’s done, he picks up his notebook and hurries out of his room, rushing to his laboratory. Once there, he moves from shelf to shelf, already knowing what he needs to get in order to begin his experiment. Adam places everything on one of the lab’s benches and begins assembling them. He’s just about to finish, all he needs is to do is finish the last stitch to connect the right arm to the torso when he suddenly pauses, suddenly unsure of what he’s doing. Putting down the arm, he looks over at what he’s done so far; there laying down in front of him is a man, a man he’s just about finished stitching together. The man’s eyes are closed, seemingly asleep but Adam knows better, after all, he’s the one who dug the head out of its grave. It’s not exactly morally right but he knows that it’s the only way if to prove his theory of it being capable to bring a corpse back to life. Though he wants to say that his reason for doing is to advance science, he knows that that isn’t why he’s doing this; he’s doing this because he wants someone who will talk to him without judging him unlike the other people in the world. Whenever he walks out of his house, there’s always someone looking at him looking at him with disdain. He’s never done anything to anyone yet they all look at him like he’s a monster who has just attacked them. It was these instances that caused him to see humanity in a bad light. Adam shakes his head, trying to clear his mind from his thoughts, not wanting to delve further into the topic. Instead, he finishes the stitches and walks away from the bench, finally ready to start the next part of his experiment and ready to see if his research, the numberless days he spent holed up in his room would show success, so he puts on his goggles and flips a switch.

The room is filled with a bright flash for a few minutes before it dies down when Adam flips the switch again. Taking off his goggles, he walks closer to the bench and looks at the man before him. Not noticing a noticeable difference or any movements coming from the man, he walks to where he left his notebook and is about to write down that the experiment failed when he hears a groan. Intrigued, he quickly turns back and rushes over to the bench. He only has to wait a few seconds before the man gasps for a breath and he quickly sits up. Surprised at the sudden movement, Adam jumps back, bumping into a nearby table and causing the things on the table to tumble onto the floor which causes him to flinch. Looking up at the man, Adam sees the man turning his head to look at what caused the noise which causes him to lock eyes with Adam.

The man looks like nothing Adam imagined, though he chose the best body parts for the experiment, the man has shriveled yellow skin, black hair, white teeth, watery eyes, and black eyes. Seeing how ugly his experiment looks, Adam almost wants to leave and run as far as he can form the creature but just as quick as this thought came to his head, the thought leaves. If he was to run away, Adam would be just like the people who judge him without getting to know him. Could he really subject his creation to those harsh actions and cause him to see how bad humanity is like he does? Stepping closer to the creature, Adam realizes that he can’t. Instead, he reaches out and hugs the man, wanting the man’s first contact with another person to be something good. Pulling back, he speaks to the man though it doesn’t seem like he understands Adam’s words. “Hello, Victor,”

 

Review:  

Because of how long Frankenstein has been around, it seems that the novel has almost been gone through almost every alteration it could have gone through. Things have been removed and/or changed from some adaptions – characters, setting, time period, events -, and for other adaptions, things have been added – characters, plot lines, etc. It’s been made into various movies, tv shows, and once even a musical. So, what is a new spin that the novel could go through and that’s when a lightbulb went off in my head: a role reversal.

Everyone knows that Victor Frankenstein is a scientist who, in an attempt to do the impossible, brought back to life a corpse. It is the age-old tale but what if that was turned on its head. What if instead it is Victor who is brought back to life by the creature, who I named Adam in my writing. As both of these characters are drastically different, the reasoning of why Adam would bring a corpse back to life would change. Victor did it because he wanted to be a god but Adam isn’t like that; it doesn’t have the ego that Victor does. Why would Adam want to bring the dead back to life then? Taking inspirations on how the creature was an outcast in the novel, I made the reason be that Adam wanted to have a friend, someone who wouldn’t judge him like the rest of humanity did. This would also affect how Adam reacts to Victor coming back to life. Though Victor got what he wanted, to bring a corpse back to life, but he was frightened by the results and ran away which is what lead to the creature to begin to see humanity as terrible. But because this is the exact opposite thing that Adam  wants, so when he brings Victor back to life, even though he first gets the idea of running away, he doesn’t and instead embraces the creature, wanting Victor’s first contact with humanity be a positive one.

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Tania De Lira-Miranda

Image result for traveling passport

Though it may not seem like it at first glance, Frankenstein in a novel in which the theme of (im)migrants plays an important, yet small, role. Though the DeLacey Family, which consists of Agatha, Felix, and Mr. DeLacey, and Safie only appear in the novel for a few chapters, the characters leave a profound impact on the creature.

It is by watching the DeLacey Family that the creature comes to learn about a lot of things. It learns about class, “a considerable period elapsed before I discovered one of the causes of the uneasiness of this amiable family; it was poverty: and they suffered that evil in a very distressing degree,” sympathy, “I had been accustomed, during the night, to steal a part of their store for my own consumption; but when I found that in doing this I inflicted pain on the cottagers, I abstained, and satisfied myself with berries, nuts, and roots, which I gathered from a neighboring wood,” and of compassion, “I discovered also another means through which I was enabled to assist their labours. I found that the youth spent a great part of each day in collecting wood for the family fire, and during the night I often took his tools, the use of which I quickly discovered, and brought home firing sufficient for the consumption of several days.” But virtues are not the only thing that the creature learns from the family as it is through them that he learns about human relationships. By watching the three, the creature learns about how family relationship work; it sees how much Flix and Agatha care for their father as he states that “nothing could exceed the love and respect which the younger cottagers exhibited towards their venerable companion. They performed towards him every little office of affection and duty with gentleness; and he rewarded them with his benevolent smiles.” He learns about kindness as he sees Felix wake up before his father and Agatha to clear the snow from the path, gather wood, and bring drinking water. It is due to watching them that the creature learns to speak their language.

And this learning continues when Safie arrives at the DeLacey’s home. When she begins to live in the house, the creature learns about how she came to meet the DeLacey’s as “The father of Safie…was a Turkish merchant…[who] became obnoxious to the government. He was seized and cast into prison the very day that Safie arrived from Constantinople to join him. He was tried and condemned to death” which caused Felix to try to help him which is where he met Safie and fell in love with her which caused her father “to secure him more entirely in his interests by the promise of her hand in marriage so soon as he should be conveyed to a place of safety.” It is due to the Safie’s tale of the circumstances that lead her to meet the DeLacey’s that the creature learned that, just like Safie, he was an other. When Safie first arrived at the DeLacey’s home, she does not know how to speak the language that Felix and his family does which causes her to be “neither understood by, or herself understood, [by] the cottagers.” So by not knowing the language of the DeLacey’s, a barrier comes to form between them as she is not able to talk to the family, causing her to be different. It is because Safie wants to bond with the family and not be different/an other to them that she plays the guitar: to communicate through music.

The reason why the creature provides Safie’s letters when trying to provide “the truth of [his] tale” is because it sees itself in her. Just as the creature feels different from Victor and any other human being, Safie was different from the DeLacey’s as she did not speak their language and was from another country. Both Safie and the creature are not like those around them. They both did not know the language of the country they were in and they are not originally from there, though technically this could be argued for the creature. Both the creature and Safie try to integrate to the country’s culture, only one of them succeeds, Safie, which shows the creature that it is an outsider even to the outsiders. By giving Victor Safie’s letters, the creature wants Victor to see how hard life is to immigrants, compared to Victor who is a white man. The creature wants Victor to see the injustice that both Safie and it face because of the life they were given/born into. The letters show the struggles that Safie went through in order to be accepted and the creature wants to show Victor that it too is going through struggles in order to be accepted

Tales from the Borderlands

By: Mary Russell

The creature gives Safie’s letters to Victor in order to, “Prove the truth of [his] tale,” and his time spent with the De Lacey’s (111). This is interesting considering Safie’s letters have nothing to do with what happened in the De Lacey household — the part of the tale that includes the creature — and instead tells her story of immigration and family life. For the letters to represent the creature’s tale, he would have to relate to Safie’s story in some way. The most obvious is that they both suffer oppression from their fathers but that is not enough to make their stories combined. Both the creature and Safie exist in the borderlands, and view themselves from the double-conscious perspective.

The borderlands can be physical or emotional, but either way they are socially created. Obviously Safie struggles with physical borderlands, being afraid of her father sending her back to Turkey. She also experiences social blockades, wherein she would be forced to be, “Immured within the walls of a haram, allowed only to occupy herself with infantile amusements, ill suited to the temper of her soul,” (111-112). Safie was intelligent, and yearned for education however she was barred from pursuing such activities while she lived in Turkey due to her father’s beliefs. She is forced by him to live as he believes a Muslim woman should, keeping her from being a free woman. She is shackled to him through physical boundaries, and oppressed through social institutions. So too does the creature exist in borderlands. He is forced into hiding, a physical border of the walls of the De Lacey household hiding him from their sight. In a way, he too is immured within the walls of their shed. While he does receive an education there, it does not feed his desire for family, only eases his boredom. The social borders preventing him from a family life is his physical appearance and prejudices based on that. He views the De Lacey family as angelic and yet he admits that, “A fatal prejudice clouds their eyes, and where they ought to see a feeling and kind friend, they behold only a detestable monster,” (120). He can not be free as he desires, and instead must hide and trap himself in the darkness.

Besides these boundaries preventing them from being treated as equals, Safie and the creature also view themselves with W.E.B Du Bois double-conscious perspective. Safie’s mother was Christian, and born a free woman. She, “Instructed her daughter in the tenets of her religion, and taught her to aspire to higher powers of intellect,” (111). Safie was a Muslim woman, soon to be forced into servitude by her father. Yet, she viewed herself and her circumstances through the lens of a free Christian. The creature says that her mother’s teachings stuck with her, forever turning her eyes westward in the hopes of education. In reality, Christianity at that time was just as oppressive towards women. Safie’s mother though, viewed the father’s beliefs as unfair and more oppressive. Because of this, Safie too viewed the customs as more oppressive and barbaric. The creature is disgusted by himself, purely because of what social norms he is taught. Through his books the creature learns what is “good” and what is “bad.” The creature states that, “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?” (115). These questions did not begin to plague the creature until he started reading the books. These books taught him that beauty was good, despite the fact that he knew his soul desired good. He thought himself disgusting purely because that was what everyone else thought. He knew deep down he was good, but buried that with the perceptions of the outside world in a self fulfilling prophecy.

Both Safie and the creature are oppressed for facts they can not change. Her story of suffering and betrayal matches his own. They are physically, emotionally, and socially kept from pursuing what they desire. Of course, eventually Safie gets the life she desires. This cements to the creature that beauty is worthy while his own ugliness is not. Either way, her letters were written during her suffering. The creature does not give them to Victor to prove the truth of his tale. He gives them to Victor to prove the truth of his suffering.

Isolation and identity

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.

monster’s rage

In both Susan Stryker’s essay and in Jessica Rae Fisher’s response to the essay, they both make connections with Frankenstein and the transgenders. Stryker makes a sense of reclaiming the words “creature” and “monster” as their own. In Fisher’s article, I am Frankenstein’s Monster: An echo of Susan Stryker’s call to action, she agrees with Stryker, “I think we should reclaim the words monster and creature. I think that if the villagers want to see us as unnatural, that we should embrace that.”, once transgenders are able to accept those words they can’t be hurt by them. Transgenders are able to relate to the monster in some kind of way of not being accepted, their rage comes from the same place of feeling lonely, hurt, and alienated.

Fisher’s article is able to connect with the question of what gender is the monster. In the novel it is referred to as “he”, but the monster himself didn’t know what he was because he didn’t fit the looks of the village people. “I had never seen yet a being resemble me, or who claimed any intercourse with me. What was I.”(Shelly 110). In another way you can again relate the monster and transgenders, not knowing their true identity. Still to this day the question of gender identity is popular and it seems now through a deeper analysis in the novel Frankenstein it’s a big question as well.frankenstein-2

Alexuz Bejarano

Inner Desires

By: Jocelyn Lemus

victors-dream1

There are so many things human nature can hide, things that have no meaning unless it is analyzed thoroughly. In the novel of Mary Shelley, Frankenstein demonstrates the use of Oedipus Complex created by Freud, which is when a young child develops an intimate relationship with the opposite sex of one of their parent’s. To begin with, Victor Frankenstein has many hidden figures based on his character. Frankenstein being objectified with this ideal, it is shown in the novel that he has these inner desires to have a physical connection with his dead mother.

To elaborate, in the dream Victor brings about what his own conscious is desiring. The dream expresses how he kisses Elizabeth, “I imprinted the first kiss on her lips”(Shelley 60). This is important because as the reader reads this section of the book, they immediately assume that it is Elizabeth who he is desiring. However, if one really pays close attention and is fully aware, it is not her he wants, but his own mother. The dream shifts from Elizabeth to his mother, when the author states, “I held the corpse of my dead mother in my arms”(Shelley 60). This is what Oedipus Complex is about, a child being able to generate those inner feelings towards one of the parent. This idea is important because it is a message that camouflages among the other messages in the novel.

As humans, we tend to believe what we want to be truth, even if it is all lies. In this case, Victor is compelled to believe that he is deeply in love with the pure Elizabeth, but in reality, he really wishes to have his mother’s physical affection of love next to him. The mind does not play games, not unless one lets it. It is crucial for one to understand their desires, for it shall be carved inside their conscious and not even will become an escape from it.

Whilst reading Warren Montag’s “The ‘Workshop of Filthy Creation’: A Marxist Reading of Frankenstein, I was completely confused as to what his argument was. It wasn’t until the end that I somewhat developed an understanding of what he meant. To my understanding, Montag argued that the way Mary Shelley has structured the book and its characters is like a direct reflection of society at the time when she wrote the novel. He starts off by stating that Shelley’s Frankenstein takes place in the French Revolution, a time where the relationship between the bourgeoise and the proletariats was extremely tense. He then goes on to say that Victor is a representation of the middle/upper class and the creature represents the working class.

However, what I don’t understand is how at the end Montag states, “Frankenstein’s monster is finally not identified with the working class of Mary Shelley’s time but with its absence,” (480). What does this mean? I can’t say I agree because to me, everything the creature stands for—who he is, the things he has gone through, everything—reflects the struggles of a proletariat of the time. Montag even says himself that people regard proletariats as an uncontrollable monster because of who they are, what they stand for, and what they can do (474). So how can he say Frankenstein’s creation isn’t a proletariat if he is literally an embodiment of this group of people. I mean, the way Montag has described the proletariat’s life and how it’s affected by new technologies and industrial systems makes me think that their lives were pretty bad, and in a way isolated them from the world. Which then reminds me of the way the monster was created as well as how he had to live his life (full of misery and isolation). Then, at the end where he says “’But soon,’ he cried with sad and solemn enthusiasm, ‘I shall die, and what I now feel be no longer felt. Soon these burning miseries will be extinct. I shall ascend my funeral pile triumphantly, and exult in the agony of the torturing flames,’” (189). He’s just basically done with life, he doesn’t want to live anymore, he’s depressed, he’s lonely, and that sounds a lot like what life was like for the working class during the industrial revolution. Their lives revolved around this never-ending cycle of work and more work that they didn’t get any kind of satisfaction in life. And so, when it’s time to die they embrace it and accept it and in way seem happy about being put out of their misery.

-Laura Mateo Gallegos

A Marxist Perspective

Tania De Lira-Miranda 

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In Warren Montag’s essay “The ‘Workshop of Filthy Creation’: A Marxist Reading of Frankenstein,”  it is stated that Mary Shelley writing shows the “birth of [the] monster, simultaneously the object of pity and fear, the industrial working class” thus making the creature be classified as a proletariat. Montag further explains that this is due to the creature not being natural but instead artificial and how it made from a “multitude of different individuals.” But while Montag gives evidence to show that Mary Shelley intended the creature to be a representation of the working class, Montag own opinion is that the creature is not “the sign of the proletariat.”

I agree with Montag as the reasons why the creature could be considered a proletariat can be disproven. While it is true that the creature is not a natural being but artificial, Mary Shelley does not write on how the creature is created; only that Victor sewed up the body parts he took from the graveyard and then that the creature was alive. Thus the statement that the creature was created from a “multitude of different individuals” cannot be proven by the novel.  Another reason would be the difference on the reasons why to pity/fear the creature and the proletariats. The creature is to be pitied because of the loneliness he is subjected to as when Victor, his creator, ran out of the room because of the creature’s appearance (60) and when he was chased out of the cottage by Felix though he had done nothing to deserve it (121) and he should be feared due to the fact that he was the one who killed William (75) and Elizabeth (167). But the proletariats were pitied due to how poor they were and they were feared because of the revolution they could bring. So while the creature was a byproduct of a middle-class capitalist, Victor Frankenstein, the creature cannot be truly be seen as a proletariat thus making Montag’s view to be correct.

By Melanney Giron

While reading Warren Montag’s essay, “The ‘Workshop of Filthy Creation’: A Marxist Reading of Frankenstein,” he brought up what he noticed was missing from Mary Shelley’s novel, “Frankenstein.” Montag mentioned that Shelley’s novel was written in a way that worked around and completely ignored what could have been the French Revolution. Montag brought up that “…the absence of the French Revolution from the text is not the only surprising fact in this passage,” (470).

Throughout his essay, Montag consistently compares the creature to a proletariat meaning that the creature was the “working class” of Shelley’s novel while Victor was the “middle class capitalist.” This brings up what Montag noted in his essay when referring to the creature, he said the creature is “not so much the sign of the proletariat as of its unrepresentability,” (480). I agree with Montag’s interpretation of the creature.

In Shelley’s novel, although the creature was being represented as the oppressed working class, he was mostly watching the “middle class”, in this instance the middle class being everyone above him. As the creature first explains his impressions with the outside world he explained to Victor, “I learned that the possessions most esteemed by your fellow-creatures were high and unsullied descent united with riches,” (109). The creature’s impression suggests that he feels like the working class when in reality, as Montag expressed in his essay, the creature knew only what he has been exposed to since he was created. Even though the creature was not aware of who or what he was, he still felt the wrath of what the actual oppressed working class would have felt if they were represented in the novel, the creature noted, “Of my creation and creator I was
absolutely ignorant; but I knew that I possessed no money, no friends, no kind of property,” (109).

See the source image

frankenstein

Wendolin Gutierrez

Prior to reading Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, Frankenstein’s monster was presented to me primarily in two lights: as a lumbering creature lacking cognitive skills and as a fiend driven a desire for violence. I was very surprised to read that the “monster” is well-spoken, understands his emotions, and more importantly is able to reason— much like us humans. Reflecting on the view I had of the creature before reading the novel and the similar preconceptions other students had, I wondered why the intellectual characteristics of the monster aren’t the first traits people associate with him. I soon realized it boiled down to man’s pride of being the only creature capable of reason and our refusal to acknowledge our own monstrous traits and capabilities.

Although Frankenstein’s monster lacked important abilities, like speech and literacy, in the beginning of his new life and proved aggressive in a number of instances, he eventually educated himself and displayed kindness to the De Lacey family, demonstrating that he is not one-dimensional. Instead, the creature possesses these traits, those that I previously had of him, and many more just as humans express a variety of emotions and can be wise or foolish in various settings. However, we still choose to look at Frankenstein’s monster from narrow perspectives and disregard his dynamic likeness to us. I believe that these limited views come from what is considered “monster.”

People usually associate “monster” with “inhuman” or “abnormal,” specifically in appearance but the term can also be applied when describing behavior. While many would consider Lurch, the Addams family’s butler, a monster for his physical appearance, Adolf Hitler can be classified as a monster for the millions of deaths committed under his orders. What these individuals share that categorizes them as “monsters” are their divergence from the idea of “normal, functioning humans.” Lurch doesn’t look like a regular human so he is not, just as Hitler’s repulsive actions, that would not be committed by a regular person, dismiss him of his humanity.

Frankenstein’s monster’s ignorance and anger have been singled out and exaggerated in the popular culture I have been exposed to as too ignorant or overly aggressive to be able to reason and be human. By focusing on his stupidity, the “monster” would not have the mental capacity to think critically and make conscious decisions. If he is only driven by anger and violence, the creature cannot consider all possible consequences as he will always choose to react with violence. Nevertheless, we see in Shelley’s novel that he can reason and reflect on the situations he is placed in, just as we humans pride ourselves so much on. This negativity, almost repulsiveness, applied to certain traits of Frankenstein’s creation feeds man’s ego as a superior being that distances itself from these “monstrous” associations. However, the “monster” in Shelley’s novel blurs the line between monster and human, demonstrating we might not be as reasonable as we believe.