Tag Archive: Frankenstein’s monster


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.

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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

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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).

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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.

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Name: Mary Russell

Hollywood making book to movie adaptations, and not following the book has been a massive source of frustration for me. Even with the success of Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter, directors still view adaptations as their “art,” like the book suddenly becomes their intellectual property. Perhaps they just want to make their own story but if that were the case they should have just done so instead of buying a copyright. Luckily in the modern era, we have movies like Harry Potter to prove that people really do like faithful adaptations. Unfortunately, Frankenstein was produced in 1931 when no one really cared about all that. The story was sensationalized, to attract a wider audience. The director made a story he believed would shock and scare people, paying no attention to the actual message of the novel.

The first, obvious, misconception is the creature’s name being Frankenstein. This is an honest mistake, after all the movie is titled Frankenstein and the creature’s face takes up most of the box art. Of course one would have to ignore the subtitle that says, “The man who made a monster.” The creature being depicted as green is another honest mistake. Frankenstein was released in black and white. Often, to portray color to an audience who can’t see any, sets and clothing would be strange colors. A good example is The Addams Family set. Their home appeared very Gothic and dark when in black and white, but in reality most set pieces were a light pink. This same technique applies to the creature. The actor was caked in green paint to make his skin appear unnaturally pale and dead. The contrast between his skin, and the dark circles under his eyes was strong in black and white. The actor actually being green influenced people to color the creature green.

The rest of the misconceptions about the novel are entirely Hollywood’s fault. The creature merely groans and stitches together fragmented sentences in the movie — to make him seem more like a monster — while in the novel he is more eloquent than Victor Frankenstein. The creature not only has a massive amount of strength, but a stunning intellect. He taught himself to speak and read in far less time than humans usually do. The movie erases this, and any sympathy one may have for the creature. In the movie he shambles and kills, and throws himself into violent rampages at the sight of fire. In the novel, no fear of fire is ever mentioned, in fact the creature is said to bare a torch at one point. He is violent, but graceful and calculating. His violence is not random, but thought out and planned. It is the result of emotional turmoil, not some bestial instinct.

The creature is complex and sympathetic. He yearns for a place in the world just like anyone else. The tragedy of his creation ruins any chance he has at friends or a family. When rejected by the world, he lashes out at the only one he can think to blame: Victor Frankenstein. Readers can sympathize with his turmoil because everyone has felt miserable with their lot in life. Everyone has felt angry at the world, at their “creator,” at nothing at all. While not everyone will resort to murder, they understand why the creature does. The movie strips these sentiments away. It turns the creature into a boogie man. Audiences can cheer on the villagers as they try to kill the creature, and feel relief when he dies. Sure it may be a little tragic, but overall his death is satisfying. That is the crime of Hollywood. He is made into a monster instead of the man he was.

 

 

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Frankenstein: The Novel vs. the Myth

By: Levit Martinez

Without any knowledge of “Frankenstein” — which I believed was the monsters name — I perceived him through the depiction of the media, a horrific monster. As a child I only saw him in a brief commercial in Universal Studios Hollywood which contained Frankenstein and a women screaming as soon as he appeared, that is all I really knew about Frankenstein. My initial thought was that he could not speak, but after reading the novel I discovered that he speaks properly and he is not named “Frankenstein”, but rather is nameless. After reading the novel my preconception changed, I was now informed and no longer thinking that this was a just a monster who was created by a evil scientist. I judge him on his appearance rather than looking into the monster and learning more about him.

The picture above gives an exact representation of my stereotypical thought of Frankenstein. The black color in the background gives it this mysterious, death and cynical tone to Frankenstein. The way he is posed gives it this hint of evilness that I thought was associated with Frankenstein. Though after reading the novel, my previous beliefs of him have changed, he is able to learn and therefore, able to read and communicate. His creator, “Victor Frankenstein” is infant the one who parallels with the evilness in the novel, he is the one that is mysterious and  cynical in the novel.

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Frankenstein directed by James Whale 1931

My preconception of the Frankenstein myth comes from the classic films such as James Whale’s Frankenstein (1931), as well as his other Frankenstein film. In the films he introduces the monster as this large green creature with a squared head who cannot utter a single word, which in itself is very much different when looking at the description of the monster given by Mary Shelley. The monster is created by Victor Frankenstein who many have since confused with the monster over the years and who people continue to confuse to this day, such as myself on the occasion. His interpretation of the monster alone has been used for decades, especially in the form of animations and cartoons like in the Scooby-Doo series or even the Marvel Universe although it doesn’t stop there. With a large cult following, the myth of Frankenstein and his monster have since lived on and has become something you find in pop culture. Its had many other film adaptations apart from James Whale’s 1931 classic such as Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein (1994) which gave the monster a whole new appearance. The monster appears more human in this adaptation although keeps with its grotesque appearance. He can speak more, and is shown to be more aggressive and cruel when he ripped out Elizabeth’s heart out of her chest. The film would later branch off and connect to another cult classic, Whale’s Bride of Frankenstein, when Elizabeth is brought back to life by Victor. Though there have been other notable works over the years that can be listed, it should be noted that the novel has also made its way in other such works with other intelligent beings being cursed with knowledge just as they had been in the novel.

Reading Shelley’s novel gave me an entirely new perspective of the monster, challenging the way I had once saw him. There was no longer this green square headed monster killing those around him or by accident. Fire was no longer his weakness and he was no longer mute. He had transformed, had become intelligent, for being a monster being brought back to life, and a incredibly lonely creature who only wanted attention from someone he couldn’t get it from, something many people can relate to. The monster became much more than what was shown in films through the years which was one thing I truly enjoyed when reading the novel. He became a more complex creature as I read on, one that wanted to be loved and to love and not exiled by humans or his creator for that matter.

If anything, the one thing I noticed that remained true through the myths that followed the novel was Frankenstein’s disgust for his creation and who truly was the villain in the story.

. Lou Flores