Tag Archive: isolation


“Fall 1995, One hiker found dead…”

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Illuminated only by the flicker of a dying flashlight, it likely appeared, to the outside eye, like a nervous tic — just restlessness, even. Who would even want to go hiking around here in this kinda weather, anyways? Maybe a dumbass, that’s who. My voice echoed throughout the cavern that was out loud? It’s not like anyone would hear you, either way, as faint whispers joined my hushed grievances. They echoed throughout the cavern: my mother, “I’m glad you told me this time around, solo trips can be dangerous, my brother, “look at yourself, putting yourself, us in danger.” I could feel a lump building up in my throat. Dread and guilt seem to be pretty weighted. Atlas, holding up the emotions.

“Am I just going to die here?”

This felt like the age old-question, a constantly asked one. When it’s just you, and only you and your thoughts, though, it becomes the omnipresent dictator of your own self. What could I have done better? Maybe not lose your map, for starters…but it’s a little late for that. Musing over bad decisions should be the last thing on my mind.

With that, I shook my flashlight. It already looked a little brighter —already a positive!—but? but nothing.

“That’s a start.”

My saliva tasted bitter. Being alone is just so consuming. I can’t imagine an otherwise, befriend a Wilson, it’s just too overwhelming. Hold up, consuming?

“Speaking of consuming, that’s a necessary thing. Hoooooly crap.”

The icy floor might be the only thing keeping my senses sharp right now, but crap. The zipper on my backpack slides easily, like figure skates on an ice rink no freezing right now, thank you! and I have enough for, at most? a few days, I hope.

A few days ago, I’d hoped I could go hiking solo, complete a trip and just have time to myself so I brought it on myself, I deserve everything. Maybe just end it. Yet, to me, a hypothetical headline motivates me more than I ever could myself. Maybe I can just survive here, on like ice particles. Adapt, or something. Even if it’s stupid, I can despair. Rather than do that, though, I rolled out my sleeping bag. That’s something. At least my dreams can take me away, anywhere.

Why did I not die? Mountains of ice surround me everywhere. It’s just a slow, bitter end. This is a dream, right? What could I ever hope to get out of dying cold and alone, for the sake of something,

losing,

 

 

lost?

 

Review:

I wanted to write a short vignette on some of the emotions solitude can bring up. In this instance, I focused on a small excerpt of an “explorer’s” perspective on being alone once they found themselves lost and alone, without any guidance or semblance of normalcy. In Frankenstein, I feel like the impact of loneliness isn’t touched upon as much as it could have been, especially with Frankenstein and his creation. Not only this, but when there is a focus on isolation, other emotions that go along with it that Shelley focuses on are usually things like vengeance or suffering, but to me, some isolation can be interpreted as self-loathing, or having a negative psychological impact from looking inward

While I couldn’t touch upon a lot of emotions that come up with loneliness, or go into as much creative depth as I would’ve like to, I had wanted to create a mixture between a short story and an almost spoken word or inner-thoughts/turmoil type of piece. It felt very disjointed writing it, and echoed a lot of overwhelmed, yet somehow resigned emotions one could feel in isolation. Due to its varied impact, I wanted to include a basic sense of how almost immobilizing it could be, similar in my mind to physically freezing up, or getting lost in thought. Sometimes with a lot of isolation, fantasy could even be the better-suited and maybe even the other option in regards to facing the crippling sensations along with loneliness head on. I took one quote specifically from Frankenstein, with Victor Frankenstein himself questioning “Why did I not die?” on page 153 after discovering Clerval’s death. This type of loss, and subsequent isolation brings up a lot of emotions that stem from becoming isolated — why suffering is unable to end for some is intriguing, and to me worth expanding on and looking further into, especially as we become further isolated from others with ever-growing distractions and obligations.

Samantha Shapiro

By Mahealani LaRosa

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Although one may not think it, colonialism and racism are rampant in Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. The most obvious examples of this are through the scenes involving the monster, but also through the story of Safie, the Muslim migrant lover of cottage-dweller Felix. Both of these characters are essentially isolated and discriminated against for being different than what society deems normal. Throughout the novel, the creature is pushed away by society, literally “attacked… bruised by stones and many other kinds of missile weapons” (98) when he tries to enter the world of humans. Undeterred by his horrific treatment, he “longed to join them” (101) and continues to watch the cottage-dwellers to “discover the motives which influenced their actions” (101). Although he is beaten and chased and cast away by people, he still wants to know why. He wants to understand what makes him different, asking himself  “Who was I? What was I? Whence did I come? What was my destination?” (115) to better comprehend the reason he is seen as lesser than man.

The chief difference between the creature and Safie is that although she is different than the cottage-dwellers and the other European citizens of the novel, she is somewhat more accepted than the monster. Felix was “ravished with delight…. every trait of sorrow vanished from his face” when he sees Safie for the first time. Although Safie has “a language of her own” she somehow still manages to make all of the cottage-dwellers overcome with “ecstatic joy” (106). She manages to make the humans happy, while the creature makes the humans scared and angry. What is the difference between these marginalized people?

Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o wrote a book called Decolonising The Mind in which he explains that language has the power to define individual identity. Those who are oppressed, like the monster and Safie, must learn to use their own language, not the language of their oppressors. This does make sense in Safies case. She spends weeks stumbling to learn the language because she feels the need to be internally colonized in order to truly connect and understand Felix and his family. However, the creature is never born with it’s own language. It is created in the middle of its life, without anything to call its own. It is kind of ironic how fast the creature picks up the language though. The monster says it could “imitate almost every word that was spoken” while Safie “understood very little” and “conversed in broken accents” (108).

I think that the creature uses Safie’s letters to ‘prove the truth of it’s tale’ because it strengthens this idea that they are both internally colonizing theirselves. While the creature does it in a more blatant way, easily picking up on the language and speaking eloquently, while also longing to be a part of society, Safie demonstrates this idea more. She is accepted and loved by this family, technically a part of society, but she will never be understood because of where she comes from. She stifles her own language, therefore stifling her own growth as a human, to be loved by people who tell her that her life will be better with them. She is free to become whomever she chooses, but society has enforced this idea in her brain that in order to be truly accepted she must be like everyone else and internally colonize herself.

The borderland

Immigration and race is now one of the new many ideas from the Frankenstein novel by Mary Shelley. The town people alienating the creature and fearing him for not knowing what he is when all he was trying to do was fit in, instead the shape him into the monster he becomes and places him to migrate else where. As for Safie, her father forbidding her and Felix together has them as well hiding their love. Not only relating to Safie’s letters, the creature learns the language as well as the literature and makes the connection with the human world by feeling sympathy for Safie. Especially feeling alone as she does, she’s the person who the creature connects to most.

Gloria Anzaldua concept of borderland, as she describes it as physical and emotional. Safie and the creature share the mestiza consciousness, crossbreeds, people who don’t belong in the world. Safie’s letters made the creature so close to her, she was the one human he truly connected to mentally and somewhat physically. Considering their suffering and betrayal the same, and the barriers Anzaldua represented between the creature and Safie. The creatures internal barrier with not knowing who he truly is and Safie’s physical barrier by running away from her father.

-Alexuz Bejarano

By: Sandra Tzoc

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In Mary Shelley’s “Frankenstein”, the character of Safie and the creature as well as her father find themselves mirroring each other. They are all marginalized by the society they live in, trying to adapt to Europe and a culture that is foreign to them. The creature in a set of letters describes Safie’s experience as, “the truth to my tale” because her story resonates with his isolation from the world around him. Both face obstacles when trying to adapt to society and are looked down upon by the rest of the public. Safie’s father was wrongly accused and this is important because it portrays the truth of foreigners even today. Mary Shelley wrote about issues that are still prevalent today. The immigrants in this country are described and seen as rapists and criminals who steal American jobs. Everyday there is a struggle for belonging in this country and this is analogous to the experience of both Safie and the creature. Although they try to fit in and be understood by those around them, the community doesn’t seem to be very accepting or tolerant. Both characters are voyagers on this unknown land because Safie and her family are trying to fit in into this new world away from home and the creature who was abandoned by his creator had to educate himself. Their stories intertwine, and they find comfort in each other through their misfortunes.

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.

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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.

Samantha Shapiro

Jessica Rae Fisher promotes the idea of reclaiming slurs such as “tranny” and “creature” to “embrace…queerness” as an extensional support of Stryker’s desire to “lay claim to the dark power of [her] monstrous identity without using it as a weapon against others or being wounded by it myself,” or accept being a “monster,” and accept the separateness, yet togetherness established in reclaiming the term (Stryker 240). In reclaiming words used against them, they are able to be moved to “disidentification with compulsorily  assigned subject positions” (Stryker 248) and become something else through manipulating the very things that bind them into their monstrous labels.

Fisher purports that they “don’t think there’s any shame in living life in rageful ways,” in doing so helps to transform to conforming to the “priority in living life in compassionate ways” (Fisher). We can see similarities to the stances brought on by Stryker and Fisher through the first meeting of Robert Walton and the creature, and the lack of reclaiming occurring by the final scenes within Frankenstein.

“And do you dream?” said the daemon; “do you think that I was then dead to agony and remorse? — He,” he continued, pointing to the corpse, “he suffered not in the consummation of the deed — oh! not the ten-thousandth portion of the anguish that was mine during the lingering detail of its execution. A frightful selfishness hurried me on, while my heart was poisoned with remorse. Think you that the groans of Clerval were music to my ears? My heart was fashioned to be susceptible of love and sympathy; and when wrenched by misery to vice and hatred it did not endure the violence of the change without torture such as you cannot even imagine.

“After the murder of Clerval I returned to Switzerland heartbroken and overcome. I pitied Frankenstein; my pity amounted to horror: I abhorred myself But when I discovered that he, the author at once of my existence and of its unspeakable torments, dared to hope for happiness; that while he accumulated wretchedness and despair upon me he sought his own enjoyment in feelings and passions from the indulgence of which I was forever barred, then impotent envy and bitter indignation filled me with an insatiable thirst for vengeance. I recollected my threat and resolved that it should be accomplished. I knew that I was preparing for myself a deadly torture; but I was the slave, not the master, of an impulse which I detested, yet could not disobey. Yet when she died! — nay, then I was not miserable. I had cast off all feeling, subdued all anguish, to riot in the excess of my despair. Evil thenceforth became my good. Urged thus far, I had no choice but to adapt my nature to an element which I had willingly chosen. The completion of my daemoniacal

design became an insatiable passion. And now it is ended; there is my last victim!”

Clearly “fashioned to be susceptible of love and sympathy.”

The creature was “fashioned to be susceptible of love and sympathy” from its creation, but in it, was externally terrifying to others, and brought into the world by Frankenstein only to fall into “vice and hatred,” (186) unable to withstand a change in itself and desires once rejected and tormented by the humans he was supposed to find happiness under. With the creature being forced into murder and deceit through a “frightful selfishness,” his very own “heart…fashioned of love and sympathy” towards humans shattered, “poisoned with remorse” (186).

A lonely creature

In being created in such a manner, rejected by others just because he was born a certain way, he was “forever barred” (186) from feelings and passions available to seemingly any other living creature, forever separated and isolated from an almost parallel situations of transsexuals rejected from their own communities, as Fisher questions how “social creatures,” or fellow humans, “could ever be expected to take care of ourselves when we are isolated and/or rejected from our communities” (Fisher). The creature then chooses to “cast off all feeling, subdued all anguish, to riot in the excess of [its] despair,” forced to “adapt my nature to an element which I had willingly chosen” by reclaiming itself as a “daemon” through murder (186).

Other selfish drives 

Rather than willingly choose, though, in control of anything, the creature became a “slave…of an impulse which [it] detested,” (186) or forced into trying to reclaim something it truly doesn’t want to turn to, albeit in a selfish drive. In this instance, while the creature appears to try and reclaim its daemonical nature through its rage and suffering, because it does so as “the slave, not the master, of an impulse which [it] detested,” it is unable to truly “reclaim the term” as the creature resolves to do so “using it as a weapon against others” and ends up “being wounded by it itself” (Stryker 240).

By Alex Luna

Jessica Fisher and Susan Stryker’s essays bring to light an interesting component of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, that in terms of gender identity in relation to the creature and Victor’s possible motives. They present the ideas that the monster is an ample representation of transsexual or queer people, due to feeling sympathy and relating to the creatures life of isolation. When taking a lens to the scene where the creature tells his story to Victor, we can begin to see evidence Stryker and Fishers claims, which could suggest that the creature is the physical embodiment of Victors own repressed sexual identity.

When the creature first begins to tell its story, it is one filled with an extreme sense of loss and confusion. When referring to its birth, the creature says “all the events of that period appear confused and indistinct” (95). Stryker and Fisher both mention similar feelings when confronting their own identities, and here the creatures bears a striking resemblance. The word “indistinct” especially seems to prove this, since it evokes this strong sense of fuzziness that makes it difficult for the creature to place himself in a societal context. In contrast to Victors more halcyon upbringing, this brings the question, did Victor unknowingly want the creature to feel this isolation? Did he project his own sexual questioning onto the creature by making it abnormal? After all, Victor certainly seems to show more affection towards Henry, and to an extent Robert, than Elizabeth.

Later, the creature begins to describe how he adapted to its new life by saying “I now that I found that I could wander on at liberty, with no obstacles which I could not either surmount or avoid” (95). Here, the creature begins to find its footing, understanding its place in the natural world. Much like Fisher and Stryker, it realized it could move around and perceive like a normal human would, although with a looming sense of uneasiness as it explored its surroundings.

Furthermore, we can see how the creature must confront his abnormality when faced with the confirmation of it. The creature says “I had covered myself with some clothes; but these were insufficient to secure me from the dews of night” (95). Believing that he is “normal” the creature attempts to put on human clothes, yet finds that he cannot fit into them and must simply wear them around his abnormal body. Here is when the creature is confronted with his unnatural state, realizing that it is truly different from those around it. In relation to Stryker and Jessica, and probably other trans or queer people, they also believed at one point that the clothes they wore didn’t match with what they truly identify with, and it is reflected in this scene.

So, does Victor himself, despite his normal upbringing, identify with the plights of the creature? It is hard to say, but the persisting contrasts of experience between the creature and Victor himself lead to believe that they could be two sides of the same coin. Victor continues to push the creature away and desires to kill it more than anything. Much like how many of the LGBTQ community feel a similar way at first when confronting their own identities. He feels if it is dead, then he could have lived happily, like a normal person.  And if so, could heighten Fishers arguments to suggest that everyone has a bit of a “monster” inside them that they continue to repress and desire to destroy. It is only when they confront this “monster” that they can find their true identity.

ID crisis

Victor’s preoccupation with science is immediately obvious at the beginning of the story. We all know that he is intent on accomplishing the impossible because he feels like he is the one person who can achieve it. Victor’s ego aside however, the idea that science can and will conquer the natural, is one shared by many Enlightenment thinkers of the time. Enlightenment era thinkers saw science as a study that should not be grounded in emotion but instead logic and an almost clinical detachment. This generally has been and is regarded as “good” science , not “bad” science,  even by today’s standards. Anne K. Mellor however exposes this separation as perhaps not so “good” after all because Victor is the prime example of where seemingly “good” science has instead revealed itself to be the opposite. Mellor explains that Mary Shelley “substituted for Davy’s complacent image of the happy scientist living in harmony with both his community and himself the frightening image of the alienated scientist working in feverish isolation, cut off both physically and emotionally from his family, friends, and society” and in doing so Victor serves as an example of where this practice of detachment in science is in fact negatively affecting not only the scientist himself but also all those around them. This science effectively becomes negative as “detached from a respect for nature and from a strong sense of moral responsibility for the products of one’s research, purely objective thought and scientific experimentation can and do produce monsters” so Victor’s actions could have only ended in a creation that was by all rights monstrous. Not only does this suggest that Victor personally was doomed from the start to create something that could only be destructive and inherently “bad” but it also implies that the purposeful decision to separate oneself from science is the wrong approach. If scientists separate themselves from everything in their pursuit of knowledge then everything they are likely to produce as a result of this pursuit will be tainted by the very objectivity they felt was necessary to discover it in the first place.

The isolation creates monsters essentially and in Victor’s case that is entirely true. Furthermore, not only does the isolation contribute to the monstrous qualities of the creation but Victor’s desire to circumvent Nature’s course also participates in the making of the monstrous. Victor “has further increased the monstrousness of his creation by making a form that is both larger and more simple than a normal human being” and this serves as one of the many examples in Victor is going against the natural order of things. This is another way in which monsters can only be created and is a type of science that “manipulate[s] and control[s] rather than describ[ing], understand[ing], and rever[ing] nature.” So Victor in trying to circumvent nature has proven that science is used in a manipulative manner that it shouldn’t be. Science should not be a tool used to get around Nature and her order of things but that is how it is used. Every time that it is used in this way the results is monstrous.

The female is not what creates monster but the male.

By Diana Lara.

By: Mark Acuña

            The story behind Frankenstein stems off a long timeline dating back all the way to the early eighteen-hundreds. A young woman named Mary Shelly was an intelligent writer and poet that was born into a sad life as the absence of her mother took a toll on her development as a writer. Although her work on her most renown novel Frankenstein introduces the story of how Victor Frankenstein creates a so called “monster” through the work of alchemy – we are presented with an image of the creature being called Frankenstein itself as well as a portrayed image that left us millennials with the perception that Frankenstein is some sort of green creature that is heavily portrayed during the season and holiday of Halloween.

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            With the very depiction of how Frankenstein is portrayed as through films and plays, it is safe to say that most of society most likely does not know about the truth and meaning of what lies behind the story of Frankenstein. With the beginning pages of the novel we are greeted with a character that seeks the attention of others through “friendships”. Walton is shown to carry some parallel with the actual story of Frankenstein – where in which the novel Frankenstein reflects the very same story of how Mary Shelly loses loved ones throughout her lifetime as well as seeks the attention, care and love from a “woman” or mother in this case. We learn that the “monster” that is portrayed as a monster in the novel is actually hurt, lost, confused and in the end – all alone. The creature that was created as a reflection from Mary Shelly, she is isolated by her works in gothic literature and the curiosity of myth with reality.

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Frankenstein: The Novel vs The myth

by Alex Luna

If I were to see an image like the one I have chosen, a large series of misconceptions would occupy my brain regarding Frankenstein. This creature I  see would be illiterate, and would be trying to choke the life out of people. I would see this creature often during Halloween, seeing the green makeup. Now imagine my surprise, when I discovered that Frankenstein was the creator, not the monster. While a surprising fact, everything regarding the monster and the myth remained in my mind. Dr. Frankenstein was surely a mad scientist, who must have yelled out “It’s Alive!” upon the birth of the monster. The monster must be illiterate, have green skin, and have bolts coming out of its neck. 

Upon reading the original novel by Mary Shelley, I have come to find most of my preconceptions to be completely false. For one, the monster is completely literate and intelligent. Victor, while still a bit crazy, isn’t such a maniac and expresses regret at his creation.

There are many characters that have been completely lost from the myth, such as Felix and Safie, as well as Robert Walton. To me, Felix and Safie are the most tragic, because they reflect a much deeper side to the story that most aren’t aware of. This missing piece relates to the creatures attempts to be accepted by humanity, to be loved and have companionship. The creature watches Felix and Safie from afar, hoping to recieve their friendship.  It’s tragic that this aspect of the story has been lost, because it makes the creature feel less like a creature and more of a misunderstood figure that eventually embraces their role as a monster upon being rejected by society. This makes me as a reader relate more to the creature, because most people have experience some sort of alienation from others at some point in life. 

Shelley’s novel has essentially caused a huge shift in the way I think whenever I hear the name “Frankenstein”, or see an image like the one I have chosen. Rather than seeing a big bad green monster trying to kill whatever comes its way, I now see a misunderstood being, who became what it did due to a sense of isolation caused by humans. The monster is truly more than a monster.

 

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