Tag Archive: marxism


By Melanney Giron

While reading Warren Montag’s essay, “The ‘Workshop of Filthy Creation’: A Marxist Reading of Frankenstein,” he brought up what he noticed was missing from Mary Shelley’s novel, “Frankenstein.” Montag mentioned that Shelley’s novel was written in a way that worked around and completely ignored what could have been the French Revolution. Montag brought up that “…the absence of the French Revolution from the text is not the only surprising fact in this passage,” (470).

Throughout his essay, Montag consistently compares the creature to a proletariat meaning that the creature was the “working class” of Shelley’s novel while Victor was the “middle class capitalist.” This brings up what Montag noted in his essay when referring to the creature, he said the creature is “not so much the sign of the proletariat as of its unrepresentability,” (480). I agree with Montag’s interpretation of the creature.

In Shelley’s novel, although the creature was being represented as the oppressed working class, he was mostly watching the “middle class”, in this instance the middle class being everyone above him. As the creature first explains his impressions with the outside world he explained to Victor, “I learned that the possessions most esteemed by your fellow-creatures were high and unsullied descent united with riches,” (109). The creature’s impression suggests that he feels like the working class when in reality, as Montag expressed in his essay, the creature knew only what he has been exposed to since he was created. Even though the creature was not aware of who or what he was, he still felt the wrath of what the actual oppressed working class would have felt if they were represented in the novel, the creature noted, “Of my creation and creator I was
absolutely ignorant; but I knew that I possessed no money, no friends, no kind of property,” (109).

See the source image

The working class is unrepresentable, to the bourgeoisie.

The whole point of Warren Montag’s Marxist reading was to highlight the beast fable that Mary Shelley had created by portraying the protesting and work hardened masses as one giant bloodthirsty and demanding monster. To Shelley, it is unchecked scientific progress, and not capitalism, that created the wrathful beast known as the lower class and Montag rightly disagrees. He even reasons that, “the very logic of capitalism has produced the means of its own destruction: the industrial working class” (473). The monster at the end of the novel even rationalizes that the idea of rebelling against the bourgeoisie (Victor Frankenstein) was a mistake because he had spilled the blood of those close to him. According to Montag the bourgeoisie, seeing the monster as alien and irrational, would not be able to identify with it or sympathize. In fact, as Montag quotes Goldner, he claims that “the monster is a factitious totality assembled from (the parts of) a multitude of different individuals (Goldner)” (473).  They can only think and yearn for its destruction and in the novel’s final moments that dream is realized. Instead of bourgeoisie defeating the beast, it is the beast who does the deed. In addition to offing himself the creature, regretting leading Frankenstein to his death says “while I destroyed his hopes, I did not satisfy my own desires” (Shelly 197).

Basically, the novel Frankenstein is Shelly saying that all people who protest are indistinguishable from each other because they are monsters and we should just leave the poor alone :^( and ask nicely to be treated better :^(

Frank

In reading Warren Montag’s “The Workshop of Filthy Creation”: A Marxist Reading of Frankenstein, Montag claims that “the monster is the proletariat” (474), in that the proletariat during the times of the French Revolution, when united together, created a “monster that, once unleashed, could not be controlled” (471). The bourgeoisie, being the one that was forced to rally the proletariat in order to be adequately represented, seemed to not have as much power as they may have believed, seeing as they were the elite, of higher social status, as Frankenstein was to the monster. The power then, fell onto the proletarian working class, which brings us back to Montag’s claim that the monster in the novel is the proletariat, unable to be controlled, possessing power over his creator, Victor Frankenstein (the bourgeoisie) as seen during the monster and Victor’s conversation after Victor had destroyed the companion he had begun to create when the monster states, “Beware; for I am fearless, and therefore powerful. I will watch with the wiliness of a snake, that I may sting with its venom” (146). In addition, the monster, much like the proletariat, did not seem to have much a “voice” in the society in which he worked so hard to be accepted by and even “endured toil and misery” (145) as a result.

In conclusion, I somewhat agree with Montag’s conclusion that the creature is “not so much a sign of the proletariat as of its unrepresentability” (480), because while he was not so much connected with the “working” class since he did not necessarily work as a proletariat did during the times of the French and English Revolutions, he was however, very much connected to the proletariat in the fact that they were unrepresented, looked down upon, and had struggled under the bourgeoisie, or in the monster’s case, as a result of the actions of the bourgeoisie (Frankenstein).

-Serena Ya

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.

 

Kaylin Insyarath

Montag carefully observes the rather subtle absence of the working class within Mary Shelley’s novel. He presents a statement that brings about the notion that Frankenstein’s creation is not a symbol of the proletariat but rather a symbol of unrepresentability. With a certain amount of absoluteness, I have to say I agree. Mary Shelley deliberately fails to mention the working class, providing the creature with no community in which he could possibly find a sense of belonging. In doing so, she succeeds in bringing forth a complete isolation that could very well be described as unrepresentation. Montag brings up a piece of clear evidence when he speaks about the fact that the process in which the creature is concocted is never brought to light in the novel, despite the fact that it has been made iconic by its film adaptations. The insignificance of the procedure itself serves as a sort of parallel for the fact that what is always seen by society is the result or outcome, or to be more specific to the novel’s case, the product. Just as the procedure in which the creature endured is never explained, those of the working class are rarely, if ever acknowledged, despite the fact that the products they make most certainly are.

A specific passage within the novel that closely resembles labor exploitation of the working class is one that graces us in the novel’s suspenseful beginning. It is the moment in which the idea of the creature makes its way into Victor’s imaginative mind (page 57). The second Victor realized that his idea of animating a lifeless being could serve as more than a simple passing thought, the creature suddenly becomes just a way of achieving his consumerist goals, much like those of the capitalist world rely on the members of the working class to facilitate profit.

 

 

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

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

“beauty is only skin-deep”

by: Xóchitl Ortiz

Myth v.s Novel: Frankenstein:


The myth of Frankenstein goes a long way, but since this is based of my prior knowledge, I only know Frankenstein from the Academy Award winning cinematic masterpiece that is the Hotel Transylvania series (well, it should have an academy award by now). I genuinely thought he was the monster, and that he was friendly (which I was right about). In all actuality, I wasn’t aware that everyone else thought he was a scary monster, since my only source is a children’s movie from Sony Animations. Turns out, after all my ignorance and finally reading the novel, I learned Victor Frankenstein made the nameless creature thing and everyone was so mortified by his appearance that their reaction warped the creature’s character.

The novel reminded me of the saying, “beauty is skin-deep” and, after googling it I found that it is a phrase that a pleasing appearance is not a guide to character. Also, I found a song from the Temptations that’s not exactly a lyrical masterpiece, but (in my opinion) is worth listening to.

That short saying (to me) is a nice summary of the novel. The completely insane “Mad Scientist”, Victor Frankenstein, made a beautiful and intellectual creature that was extremely judged by everything it encountered, not by its kindness nor patience towards humans, but by its appearance. When I say the creature was beautiful….I mean it in the most pure, innocent way because the creature, in my perspective, was a kind-hearted soul. Similar to a child, he was inquisitive and fast-adapting. Unfortunately, like all things innocent, the thing was corrupted by the evil in the world. I saw something in the creature, something that was gentle and fragile, but because of his physical manifestation, he was rejected by society.

The novel is written through a series of letters- which gives it a more personal perspective and connection. The tone revealed to me the common theme which questioned, “What is actual beauty?”. Of course, beauty has multiple definitions and layers. You see, 200 years is quite some time. Although the number of the years increased, definitions differed, and time ultimately changed everything, one thing that seemed to not change was the ideology behind “beauty”. Everyone is just as judgmental about what people look like, instead of who they actually are as a human being, today as they were 200 years ago. If I made the rules in life, I would make it so that your physical appearance reflected your innermost self, but I don’t make the rules. Nowadays, exactly how it was back in the “good ol’ days”, beauty gives people benefits and the upper hand in life. This creature lacked the basic European features that was considered beautiful at the time, so people lacked empathy towards it. In my opinion, just because someone is attractive it doesn’t give them the right to be evil. The irony in this is that the creature was a physical representation of what society was: a monster.

The monstrous society made the creature warp his personality to match his appearance, completely warping who it was. In my eyes, the greatest connection is the simple definition of: “beauty is only skin-deep”. It is up the individual to perceive their definitions of what beauty is.

Citations:

https://www.google.com/search?q=beauty+is+only+skin+deep+meaning&ie=UTF-8&oe=UTF-8&hl=en-us&client=safari

the creation

Finding it difficult to wrap my head around Marxist theory, I tend to defer to the experts. So when Warren Montag, in “The ‘Workshop of Filthy Creation,’” argues that the creation is “not so much the sign of the proletariat as of its unrepresentability” (Montag 395), I’m inclined to believe him. And the more I think about it, this makes a lot of sense considering the confusing mishmash of emotions I’ve felt toward the creation.

The creation’s interaction with the portrait of Frankenstein’s mother illustrates what Warren Montag calls the “combination of pity and fear” (388) that the proletariat naturally elicits. The creation initially looks at the woman “with delight on her dark eyes, fringed by deep lashes, and her lovely lips” (Shelley 127). The beauty of the elite bourgeois that Caroline Frankenstein represents contrasts starkly with the poor creation’s “dull yellow eye,” “dun white sockets” and “straight black lips” (60). In fact, this is likely what the creation remembers, as his joy quickly disintegrates and turns to rage, recalling, “I was for ever deprived of the delights that such beautiful creatures could bestow” (127). The ugly, poor, neglected creation is unique in that only he cannot receive affection from human beings. Important, however, is that this monstrosity is still capable of feeling delight and is even “softened and attracted” (127).

But why does any of this matter? Well, the creation declares, “I only wonder that at that moment, instead of venting my sensations in exclamations and agony, I did not rush among mankind, and perish in the attempt to destroy them” (127). This is the constant tension that underlies the relationship between the bourgeois and the proletariat. On one hand, the poor and neglected, like the creation, are at once sympathetic and pitiable, but on the other they are also capable of immense destruction and harm. In what Montag calls “a rural world dominated by scenes of a sublime natural beauty” (394), the creation sticks out as the singular entity of contradictions, a being of tenderness that can turn to rage in an instant. So why didn’t the creation go absolutely manic in that moment? Maybe there’s no way of knowing for sure. And maybe that’s the lingering uneasiness and obscurity of the unrepresentable proletariat.