Tag Archive: irony


A Voice for the Unheard

In his essay, “The ‘Workshop of Filthy Creation’: A Marxist Reading of Frankenstein” Warren Montag introduces several arguments as to what the creature in the novel can represent but he ultimately concludes that he is “not so much the sign of the proletariat as of its unrepresentability” (480) and pushes for the idea that in reality Shelley is saying that science/knowledge is to blame for the result of a lower class. Although the idea is incredibly interesting and introduced me to a different perspective, I have perceived the creature in a completely different light and would have to argue that he definitely represents the proletariat. Montag also mentions in his essay that Shelley “lends her voice to the voiceless, those who, bowed and numbed by oppression and poverty, cannot speak for themselves” (473) and personally, I agree more with this statement than the prior.

In the first chapter of the novel, Victor’s place and class-standing in society is made clear when Victor recalls his childhood and says, “… I was so guided by a silken cord, that all seemed but one train of enjoyment to me” (41). The imagery we get of a luxury such as a “silken” garment leads us to assume that he must be of upper or middle-class standing and knowing that his childhood was “a train of enjoyment” also helps us assume that he did not struggle much growing up. This is important when we think about Victor as a character and what he is meant to represent – the bourgeois. We get further assurance of his representation in society when Victor says, “A new species would bless me as its creator and source; many happy and excellent natures would owe their being to me” (57). In this instance, Victor is already placing himself above whatever creature results from his experiment and Shelley assures him as a superior. Thus, using the creature as a symbol for the proletariat and being beneath Victor.

When Victor creates a monster that eventually reciprocates the torment onto him, which he cannot escape, we can interpret this as a representation of the real fear that the proletariat class could one day revolt against the bourgeois class. By Victor’s choice to ignore and outcast what he created, he worsens the problem and that only causes the creature to revolt and protest his mistreatment. However, as a denounced member of society, he never held the privilege to speak up about his conditions or his feelings – just like the lower class at the time. Therefore, I believe that it is true that Shelley was lending her voice for the outcast members’ of society through the character of the creature. A passage that demonstrates Shelley lending her voice to millions of voiceless members of society is when the creature tells Victor “I expected this reception, … All men hate the wretched; how, then, must I be hated, who am miserable beyond all living things! Yet you, my creator, detest and spurn me, thy creature, to whom thou art bound by ties only dissoluble by the annihilation of one of us” (92). With this quote, Shelley is bringing pity to the lower-class and stating the reality of their struggles using her platform as a writer to reflect their conditions and sentiments and to get them into the public. By saying, “… how, then, must I be hated, who am miserable beyond all living things!” Mary Shelley is sharing a common cry amongst the working class that is intended for the upper classes considering that the superior classes always made their lives more difficult than they already were and yet, they were hated for things out of their control.

I also think Shelley did something interesting with the last line, “Yet you, my creator, detest and spurn me, thy creature, to whom thou art bound by ties only dissoluble by the annihilation of one of us” because I believe the statement she is trying to make is that without the lower-class, the bourgeois would not have had everything they did and that the working class were indebted to them and in case of the annihilation of either, the system they live in would collapse. With this, I also believe there is an underlying irony because we are lead to believe that the upper/middle class would hold all of the power. However, through these statements Shelley is placing more power than expected in the hands of the lower-class because she insinuates that if the proletariat chose to they could be a threat to those above them in class. Overall, I do not agree with Montag’s interpretation of the novel and its message because I think there are a great deal of instances where Shelley sets up and encrypts passages that indicate to a different message. I believe that what Mary Shelley was trying to do was give a voice to those who did not have one through her writing and her story, although it is a very deep, embedded message of pity and warning and I agree with that part of Montag’s essay.

-Beverly Miranda

By: Leena Beddawi

In Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, readers are told an emotional tale of self-discovery, one that arguably seems more human than the average coming-of-age story found ever so innovative. This has to do with the fact that this was an entirely new way to delve into the intersections of the human experience, bringing science and philosophy together, and how that contributes to the development of said characters as well as how one perseveres anything they find “other” to their “normal” as a barbaric way of thinking and feeling. In reality, the creature merely wanted to be understood, accepted, and loved.

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You take this novel at pure face value, humans began placing somewhere among the horror/thriller section, merely because it contains a “monster” who has a path of destruction in his wake almost anywhere he goes. In reality, when we hear the actual perspective of said monster, we see all the misconceptions our culture has strewn onto us.

This novel is not that of a horror or thriller, but a tale of one’s journey to self and environmental consciousness. The creature taught themselves everything through watching people live their daily lives, from simple to complex; such as acceptance, tolerance, hatred, language, empathy, economic inequality, power dynamics, social standards, and even gender roles.

One of the most touching parts of the creature’s story, for me, is when they first encounters a painful bone-chilling cold, and when the sun began to shine down upon them, however “surprised by the novelty of such sensations… [they] still dared to be happy”(186).

Before reading this book, the only idea I had of it was what the myth or legend was told, that Victor Frankenstein was a mad scientist who went rouge and started creating this big, and sub-human. This pre-conception of the misconstrued maverick has almost everything to do with the subconscious attitude we still have over people who do not look exactly “normal” in a very subjective opinion.

Truly, the deeper we get to know the creature Frankenstein created, the more we feel ourselves projected onto them, almost as if we are all still learning and growing as individuals all the same, while some only get a different reaction due to their own physical appearance, rather than what is in their hearts.

Unjust Justice

The death of William in Frankenstein rightfully sparked the search for his killer, and a long-time servant of the Frankenstein’s house, Justine, was convicted of the murder under a conglomeration of circumstantial evidence. Of course the reader and Frankenstein know that Justine is guilty of no such crime, however the attempt for others in the house and community to establish justice leads to her downfall. The task at hand is to examine the execution of Justine through the framework and lens of radicals such as Mary Wollstonecraft. In the words of Wollstonecraft, the execution of  Justine, who herself was “extremely pretty,” ( Frankenstein pg. 68) the embodiment of beauty, was necessary “to render men more virtuous, and to banish all enervating modifications of beauty from civil society.” (Wollstonecraft pg. 48) Justine “appeared calm, and her countenance, always  engaging, was rendered, by the solemnity of her feelings exquisitely beautiful. Yet she appeared confident in innocence..” (Frankenstein pg. 79) Ernest, Victor’s brother, even expresses his unbelief that such an amicable girl would be capable of such an atrocious crime. The community’s attempt at justice was an honorable reach for righteousness. Justine’s conviction was the perfect example of the community’s attempt to separate what Wollstonecraft would argue they “reasoned” to be true, Justine’s guilt, from her “beautiful” appearance, something that had the potential to cloud their judgement. (Wollstonecraft pg.47)

Justine’s execution is ironic, however, in that she was convicted in her innocence. William’s locket was found on her person, and her inability to reasonably explain her possession of the locket led to her conviction. If we are to make Justine’s death analogous to what Wollstonecraft says is a “respect of the naked dignity of virtue” (Wollstonecraft pg.  49) or an attempt to make society just, should not the conviction have been just in itself? I present the idea that Justine’s execution does not accurately depict the virtue that Wollstonecraft so passionately defends. Throughout the scenario, I never see justice present itself. The first wrong: William’s murder. The second wrong: Justine’s conviction. The third wrong: Justine’s execution. Along the bridge between William’s murder and the execution of Justine lies a longing for righteousness, a desired explanation and vengeance for his downfall. However, I would argue that the sole desire for these things does not ensure justice. Only when vengeance is rightfully achieved will justice prevail. In lam en’s terms, “two wrong’s do not make right” nor is Wollstonecraft’s “virtue” achieved by the wrongful “removal of beauty”, or Justine, from “civil society”.(Wollstonecraft pg.48)