Tag Archive: internal colonization

The marginalization in Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein is not limited to the monster as discourse on other peoples, like the Turkish Safie, are also presented. This inclusion demonstrates how the the subaltern crosses cultures and lands, both figuratively and literally, and is constructed by the view of the body or people in power, distorting a subject’s view of themselves.

The stem from the philosophies of W.E.B. DuBois and Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o. According to W.E.B. DuBois, the “veil” or “double consciousness” is the idea that individuals, especially that of minorities and disenfranchised people, are seen from the view of those in power, usually white, colonizing people, and from their own view perspective. As a result, marginalized subjects are insiders, by inhabiting a society and existing as singular beings, but also outsiders, since they do not and are, therefore, outsiders. The problem with this is that the perspective of the ruling becomes the dominant one that is pressed onto the subjected as truth, hindering the individual subject from realizing their own subjectivity because of governing interference, which Thiong’o terms internal colonialism. As a result of internal colonialism, the way of colonized or subjugated people is seen as flawed or inferior. By adopting the values and beliefs of those in power, people abide by the “proper,” “civil” social ideals established by dominant forces, despite the civility already present in their old ways that simply weren’t an exact reproduction of the dominant.

These theories are presented in Frankenstein through the relationship of the monster and Safie to the communities they inhabit and oppress them. Both characters are placed into societies in which they are expected to abide by, especially as members of marginalized people like women and the deformed. Safie is “sickened at the prospect of…being immured within the walls of a haram, allowed only to occupy herself with infantile amusements, ill suited to the temper of her soul, now accustomed to grand ideas and noble emulation for virtue” (Shelley 111). While the ideals set on women in the Turkish society Safie comes from is considered the proper life for women to follow, as determined by the men in power in the patriarchal society, it’s not the case of Safie. This would undoubtedly be the faith of Safie if she were to have stayed in her homeland in which she falls within society as a Turk but, through the eyes of the powerful, is also an outsider for being a woman with virtually no power or authority to dictate social protocol. While Safie is able to leave this society and migrate to Europe, she is still acknowledged as an outsider as a result of her place of origin, and consequential difference in appearance, and as a woman. The monster’s experience is similar as he inhabits a society in which one must abide by certain appearances and manners. While he, like Safie, attempts to gain knowledge of Western thought, the dominating philosophy, and intellect in order to assimilate and become fully integrated into the community, he will always be viewed as an outsider because of his inhuman appearance and origin from the dead. Nevertheless, the reigning European values and ideals is still held as the proper one. Safie and the monster can’t be full insiders of the society and are subjected to the ruling consciousness, despite the tension with their own individual consciousness as people who have been no different from those in power whose perceptions have internally colonized, nor less civilized. For this reason, Safie and the monster weep over “the hapless fate” of the Native Americans (108). Although North America was Native land, European colonization asserted power over the natives and established their ideals of beauty, civilization, and government onto the people, despite already being established. The Native Americans become a minority and foreigners in their own land and submit to the governing consciousness and colonizing ideals Safie and the monster have been convinced of. While all these groups are expected to follow the tenets of the societies that dominate them, they can never truly be a part of them and they know it.

-Wendy Gutierrez

In the novel, the creature forms a relationship of familiarity and understanding with Safie, a Muslim Arab migrant from Turkey. Their relationship forms through the creature learning her story while also learning English along side her. They are both similar in that they are outsiders leaning the language and ways of a Christian man, Felix.

Their situation can be associated with the ideas of Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o, who believed in the importance of staying true to one’s native language, especially through writing. The creature shares that Safie seemed to, “have a language of her own, she was neither understood by, nor herself understood the cottagers” (106). I believe that Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o would disapprove of Safie, as well as the creature, taking on a new language. Even if the creature never had a specific language to begin with. I feel he would see the creature’s situation as a  lost opportunity to create a new language if his own, that he could then teach to others like Safie, and in that way create a bond with those wished to reject colonization.

The creature insists on proving his story by giving Victor (and, indirectly, Walton) a copy of the letters because they hold the truths of both their struggles as well as their accomplishment in learning a language. In addition they demonstrate that although Safie and the creature may be the victims of internal colonization but, they will, for the time being, use it to their advantage.

By Galilea Sanchez.

The tale of Mary Shelly’s Frankenstein is not only a tragic story of a deranged man who risks all that he holds dear to create life, but also a tale of said creation learning about the very world that is against his existence. His alienating features paint him as a monster and a menace to society that keep him from living the life he deserves. After setting off on his own however, he learns of the existence of other alienated humans shunned from society as well. The creature shares the letters that contain the difficult journey of a Turkish refugee named Safie to Victor as proof of the internal colonization aliens like himself share.


Internal colonization consists of the oppression of certain ethnic groups over others within a social space.As such, those affected are often seen as unwelcome aliens that are separate from the society they wish to join. Safie’s status as a Turkish refugee paints her in the same ugly light as the creature, in which the rest of society attempts to outcast any alien or otherworldly elements as a direct result of internal colonization. After spending days feeling society’s wrath, the creature finally realizes the core of his discrimination after empathizing with Safie’s story. These two victims of internal colonization understand the pain of “the hapless fate of it inhabitants” and weep, knowing the rest of their lives are doomed to such senseless oppression (108). The creature decides to give Victor these important documents to prove the injustice that still exists in Safie’s and other’s lives. Together, the creature and Safie “will prove the truth of [his] tale,” the truth of internal colonization.

–Jose Ramirez