Tag Archive: labor


Varying Intentions

Written by Cathryn Flores

Throughout the course of the novel Frankenstein, Mary Shelly discusses the relationship between the creature and his creator, Victor Frankenstein. This relationship reveals the different ways the working class, represented by the creature, is treated by capitalists, which is represented by Victor. Warren Montag’s essay “The “Workshop of Filthy Creation”: A Marxist Reading of Frankenstein“, gives a Marxist perspective on the functioning and structure of the story of Frankenstein and his creation. I agree with Montag’s statement that the creature is “not so much the sign of the proletariat as of its unrepresentability” because the creature has no real self-identity, and can therefore not be a true member of the working class, but only a sole figure of society that contains no true purpose.

Montag expresses his idea that the creature is the sign of the proletariat’s unrepresentability because of the fact that he was solely created to exist in the world, rather than to truly live in it. This concept is contrary to the idea of a proletariat, which  signifies the working class and their duties to continue the cycle of a capitalist society. For example, when devising a plan to create his “creature”, Victor Frankenstein states that “a new species would bless me as its creator and source; many happy and excellent natures would owe their being to me” (Shelly 57). Frankenstein reveals his intentions for creating this “monster” was for his own personal, capitalistic gain, rather than to give an inanimate object the chance at a life of well-being and free will. Instead, the scientist explains that he will reign as the master of this creature and expect praise and glory throughout this process. Victor’s intentions for this creature do not include the possibility for the it to even exist as a proletariat in society. Instead, the creature is only intended to be misrepresented by his lack of ability and opportunity to reside in the working-class, and is destined to live its life in the shadows of other beings.

 

By Jade Graham

Image result for marxism

There are many lenses and perspectives that readers have discovered through Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein and with that comes many viewpoints and beliefs. Warren Montag (appears to be around the 1990’s) wrote an essay from a Marxist viewpoint. Titled, “The ‘Workshop of Filthy Creation’: A Marxist Reading of Frankenstein” Montag uses quotes and sources to try and prove his idea of how the monster is put in the difficult position of not the proletariat, but not being represented at all. There is the point made of within a divided class society there is labor to be done. With that comes workers in a factory, where parts are assembled. That idea of the Victor creating something does make the creature a part of the classes, but a part of the creation itself. The creature is different body parts made into a walking dead being. Parts together to help improve somehow, like creations with parts at a factory to create a full piece. The monster did not improve anyone’s life, he did not come with directions and was taken for granted.

I agree with Montag’s point after reading. I did not view him to be on the other side because I believed he had experienced both sides at one point. From a baby-like learning state who doesn’t know much, poor, and low skills to intelligent, quick, and ethical the creature is hard to pin down. Because of how different the creature is, he is not a part of society and therefore not a part of any class.

This is shown when the monster encounters the cottagers, he is an outsider. Not of their world or anything like it. He is a supernatural creation, the living dead. He is able to feel though when reflecting on the cottager’s lifestyle and their nature towards each other. That want to belong as he, “felt a sensation of a peculiar and overpowering nature: they were a mixture of pain and pleasure,” when coming with emotions that are not only shocking but rare to experience for him (100). There is ambiguity present due to how everyone can feel emotions, but for the creature to experience them is on another level. He is confused and decides to put those emotions at bay because he does not know how to handle them. The meaning of feeling emotions, what that means for the creature, and more. Acts of kindness, those of which the creature has not been given and is seeing for the first time. So to call the creature classless may be an incorrect term, but he is not upper, middle, or even lower class. He is an outsider because of his background. Created in a lab like a factory and not given any help led the creature to fend for himself and learn emotions. That is what happens when you don’t take care of your creations.

 

A Rise of Action From Nothing

Image result for proletariat frankenstein

Christopher Martinez

In “The ‘Workshop of Filthy Creation’: A Marxist Reading of Frankenstein,” Warden Montag argues that the creature is “not so much the sign of the proletariat as of its unrepresentability.” With all respect to Warden, I would disagree with his statement because Frankenstein does represent the proletariat as a whole. Montag states that “if the modern (proletariat) were allowed to appear, the monster would no longer be a monster, no longer be alone, but part of a ‘Race of Devils” (480). His statement might be true, but the monster serves as the journey and voice of every proletariat as a whole.

I decided to focus on Chapter 20 (pg 145-146). During this part of the book, the monster confronts Victor about his new mate. Victor destroys all the work he has done just to punish the monster. The monsters madness can be shown through the quote, “Slave, I have reasoned with you, but you have proved yourself unworthy of my condescension. Remember that you I have power, you believe yourself miserable, but I can make you so wretched that the light of day will be hateful to you. You are my creator, but I am your master – obey!” (146) Symbolism and tension can also be depicted in this quote because the monster (proletariat) mentions that Victor (the bourgeoisie) is his slave likewise, lower classes in society can overthrow the rich through an action. This gives me a feeling of letting go of chains. Ambiguity is also shown considering we have to decide what the action to change is. The reason I am saying this is because as a proletariat myself reading this book can give me different ideas towards action against aristocratic ideals. Thus, being annoyed and angry at being exploited lead up to the moment where the proletariat stands up for themselves. To add on, Mary Shelley uses a voice that makes me interpret that she threatening the bourgeoisie. Words like ‘I’ are used a lot in this section of the book. Such as in the quote, “I will watch with the wiliness of a snake, that I may sting with its venom. Man, you shall repent of the injuries you inflict” (146). I get that horrific mood when reading this. In other words, I interpret that Mary Shelley is threatening the rich just like the monster is doing against Victor.

Throughout the whole section, there is a motif of rage. Victor made the monster reach up to his tipping point. As a consequence, Victor has to face an inevitable horror at some point. I don’t feel as if anything is missing because clearly the monster represents every single proletariat – unlike what Montag thinks. To make this more clear, throughout the book we see the growth of the monster (such as through education). Once the monster has the knowledge of the mind to act between right and wrong, we see the confrontation. Similarly, as I mentioned before, this can all relate to any low-income student because through knowledge and anticipation we can act upon our own people: the proletariat.

Arlyne Gonzalez

cottagers

Construing Warren’s Montag’s essay, “The Workshop of Filthy Creation” A Marxist Reading of Frankenstein, I encountered many interconnections between the working class and Frankenstein. Montag highlights how the working class had entered… forms that could appear monstrous… (Montag, 472). Montag is highlighting how the working class represents the monstrosity within society and cannot be perceived as respected individuals. However, I disagree with that perspective, because the working class is simply folks laboring away, and obeying what they are being commanded of them. If anything, Victor Frankenstein was the one who had a monstrous conscience. He had the audacity to engineer a creature and challenge nature, coming up with the excuse of experimenting with a “God-like science”. Victor was not driven by good intentions nor bad intentions, he just lacked the intellect and common sense of the possible results that would come from creating another creature. What was missing from this passage, was Montag recognizing the true monstrosity in Mary Shelly’s novel, which was Victor, not the creature. Victor was the one who let himself be driven by gothic and dark notions, henceforth, creating the creature and immediately abandoning it due to selfish reasons. The creature, just like any born infant, was innocent and in confusion about his existence and purpose in life.

Moving forward, As I was interacting with the text, I immediately connected the creature with the working class, because they both encompassed great struggles regarding sociality. For instance, the working class is obviously putting forth all their time and effort to earn and wages and establish a decent living, however, the creature has different aspirations. The creature was putting forth time and efforts in attempting to be accepted by society and be considered as an equal. Which was why the creature studied language and fell in love with it, that he considered language to be an art. Montag considers the creature to be an actual monster because he does not see realize the genesis of how and why the creature did all those bad deeds toward Victor’s loved ones. The creature wanted to be understood and loved by a creature similar to him. The Tension that can be perceived from this, can be Montag stating that “the monster is a product rather than a creation, assembled and joined together by… science, technology, and industry… (Montag, 473). Montag is emphasizing how the creature cannot be loved or understood because according to Montag, the creature is nothing but a product of science. This demonstrates a paradox because Montag is being directly honest, eliminating any sympathy toward the creature’s nature. Yes, the creature was conducted by science and technology, but what is missing from Montag’s view, is that the creature may encompass monstrous physical features, but like many humans, he also encompassed a heart of bottled up emotions.

In closing, I disagree with Montag’s view of the creature being depicted as the underrepresentation of the proletariat because the creature may have encompassed many flaws like many, but the cottagers; the family that the creature was observing and learning from, were the ones that can be depicted as the underrepresentation of the proletariat. The cottagers were the ones who were stripped of their wealth and were banished from their hometown. They were compelled to isolate themselves from the village and make a home inside the woods. They did not have a great deal of many, let alone have many resources to acquire food and basic necessities. The cottagers were sentenced to live in poverty due to the capital ceasing their wealth and left with no alternative other than to endure a hardship.

I disagree with Montag’s conclusion that the creature stands for the under representation of proletarians. The last paragraph on page 101, continuing on page 102, describes the cottagers, and their living conditions, in a way that makes them similar proletarians.

In this passage the creature revealed the cottagers situation when it came to their nutrition. According to the creature, they suffered poverty in a “distressing degree” (101), which lead to not having reliable resources. In addition, the creature told that all their food was obtained by themselves. They got milk from a single cow they owned as well as vegetables from their own garden. The cottagers struggle for survival can be compared to the proletariat’s struggle to survive on insufficient wages disproportionate to their labor.

Similar to proletarians, the cottagers can be placed at the bottom of the social ladder, even without having to sell their labor. In my opinion the cottagers represent the proletariat far better than the creature. The creature has no financial problems nor does he benefit from his own labor. If anything, the creature could be viewed as the capitalist, waiting to take advantage of and live off the cottagers’ little resources as well as their home.

By: Galilea Sanchez