Tag Archive: industrial revolution


Mark Acuña

 

Frankenstein, written by Mary Shelly was a pretty good novel wasn’t it. It covered a lot of aspects of life we don’t usually see when reading the book for the first time. As we go through each chapter, we can see that the moral of the story covers a boy named Victor Frankenstein that creates a creature which he then regrets as it brings him despair and depression. In the short essay, “A Marxist Perspective” by Warren Montag, he goes in depth about the deeper meaning of Frankenstein and how he believes that the motive for Mary Shelly was to show the allusion between the storyline of Victor Frankenstein between the monster and the events of the English and French industrial revolution. Warren Montag points out the social stability shown as a contrast between 19th century social issues and the story of Mary Shelly’s Frankenstein. The sheer thought of a connection between the failure of both the French revolution and the English revolution through social order ties together with the connection of the failure Victor has on his attempt to create the perfect creature/species. In pages 472 in Montag’s essay, it states that “…the paradox of technologies created by human beings but whose nature defied human understanding, the mind sought refuge in the familiar language of mystery and miracle. But these new technologies and the industrial systems…increased unemployment, falling wages, rising prices of food…”. This can be seen as straight contrast between the allusion of events that unfolds during the 1790’s and early 1800’s with the industrial revolution. Technology is new and exciting at first, but then proves to be a danger and have repercussions to modern life and the society in which it lives in – just like how victor feels about his beginnings into alchemy, first is excitement, then the creation, then the unbarring deaths of his brother William, Justine, and wife. The monster is the resemblance of the parts and materials of the industrial revolution and its cons it brings with its convenience. Comparison that once the working class gets involve with high divisions, you get a community of monsters that want their way – no technology or in the sense of Frankenstein, if victor can’t make the “monster a woman to love” then victor won’t have anyone to love for himself. Furthermore, in pg. 480, Montag’s states that “If the modern (the urban, the industrial, the proletarian) were allowed to appear, the monster would no longer be a monster; no longer alone but part of a “race of devils” (144), his disappearance would change nothing. Instead, the mass is reduced to the absolute singularity of Frankenstein’s creation, which is therefore not so much the sign of the proletariat as of its unrepresentability.” This analysis from Montag demonstrates indication that he believes that if the monster wasn’t out of people’s sight, then the monster would have been seen as everyone else, nothing would have changed, and the mere horror and side-effects of industry can take a toll on the people and community that revolves around it.

1483430693928

By: Sandra Tzoc

Mary Shelley’s novel was published around the same time as the birth of the Industrial Revolution, meaning around the time machines started replacing humans. This is important because nowhere in the novel was this portrayed similarly to how the French Revolution was neglected. Throughout the novel there was plenty of mountainous imagery but none of machinery that would have been present at the time. Moreover, in his work “The Workshop of Filthy Creation”: A Marxist Reading of Frankenstein, Warren Montag claims Victor as the “Bourgeoisie” and the creature as the “Proletariat”. The “producer” of the monster is the Proletariat because he unleashed something onto the world but somehow moved on with his life, whilst the creature was left to fend for himself, just like those who were thrown out due to the rise of machinery. Some might think that Shelley did not speak about the changes she was living herself but what if she did. What if she simply talked about these entities of marginalization, prejudice, and overall revolution but indirectly. Perhaps she used Frankenstein to stand for these vast issues present during her time and our own now. Warren describes the creature as “not so much the sign of the proletariat as of its unrepresentability” (480), because the creature doesn’t have to fall under one label. In addition, at the end of the French Revolution perhaps the creature could represent the public themselves. Where they now felt lost and alone just like the creature did when Victor denied him a companion. The industrial revolution ultimately was born to speed up the process of making merchandise and in many circumstances took the jobs from people. The people without jobs suffered and had to search for new ways to make a living and this is important because its analogous to the creature’s experience. Perhaps Warren was hinting at the complexity of the creatures symbolic meaning and how it could not possibly end at proletariat.

In his essay “The ‘Workshop of Filthy Creation’: A Marxist Reading of Frankenstein”, Warren Montag claims that there are Marxist undertones within Marry Shelly’s novel that depicts the ongoing struggle of the working class against the middle class, represented by Frankenstein’s monster and Victor Frankenstein respectfully. Towards the end of his essay, he claims that Frankenstein’s creation is “not so much the sign of the proletariat as of its unrepresentability” (480). I agree with this notion as I believe that the horror of  the industrial and technology that helped to create the working class, as mentioned by Montag, is exemplified within Shelly’s work with its ability to transform beauty into horror so seamlessly without being depicted at all.

Indust

The reader witnesses the unrepresented power’s horror when it causes Victor to view his magnificent creation as a work of terror. Right before Victor is ready to bring his creation to life, he takes a moment to praise “his features as beautiful. Beautiful!–Great God!” (60). He continues to lovingly evaluate his work as an ideal image of man with perfect proportions, noting that “his hair was of lustrous back, and flowing; his teeth of a pearly whiteness”(60). Amidst his thorough compliments however, he takes a moment to notice his creation’s “more horrid contrast with his watery eyes…his shriveled complexion and straight black lips,” alluding to the unseen industrial and technological dark consequences (60). Despite having “worked hard for nearly two years, for the sole purpose of infusing life into an inanimate body,” Victor succumbs to the horrors of the working class in an instant, viewing his once beautiful and flawless creation now with “breathless horror and disgust…unable  to endure the aspect of the being [he] had created” (60). The strong change in polarity in the way Victor views his creation demonstrates the amount of horrible power that technology, the industrial, and the working class have and helps create a terrifying image within the reader’s mind. Fear of the unknown is perhaps the greatest fear of all after all. The text never describes the process in which Victor uses technology to reanimate the corpse, as suggested by Montag’s claims that “technology and science, so central to the novel, are present only in their effects; their truth only becomes visible only in the face of their hideous progeny and is written in the tragic lives of those who serve them” (478). The unseen nature of the elements that created the working class, the industrial and technology, help “to render this being,” Frankenstein’s monster and by extension the proletariat, as “inexplicable and unprecedented, a being for whom there is no place in the ordered world of nature” (480). In the end, the unseen forces of technology and the industrial that Victor used for his experiment caused him to view his creation he thought was the pinnacle of humanity as a despicable monster, just as the capitalism that created the cruel lives of the proletariat.

–Jose Ramirez