Tag Archive: Mary Shelley


The New Perspective

Warren Montag, author of the essay “The Workshop of Filthy Creatures”, uses this article of writing to pinpoint the social classes, and social injustices, found in Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. To start off, Montag first divides the fact that Victor is part of the Bourgeoisie class, and the creation represents the Proletariat class. While reading Montag’s paper, he brings up multiple points based around his thesis. His final words, however, can be left for interpretation by his readers; “… not so much the sign of the Proletariat as of its unrepresentability.” (480)

In my personal opinion, I believe that Montag is correct. In order to help Montag with direct evidence from the novel, might I direct you to chapter 12 of Frankenstein. At this point in the journey, the creature has been studying the cottagers and their ways of survival. The cottagers work everyday, especially Felix, and the creature takes note of this continuously in his part of the story. However, the creature then states to himself, “… but how terrified when I viewed myself in a transparent pool!” While the quote is fleeting, it still holds many points of evidence that are useful for my argument. One, for example, being the plain fact that the creature understands that he is not like the cottagers as far as beauty. This is not the first time that we, the readers, see the creature separate himself from human society, or even the Proletariat class. Just this quote is enough to sustain the theory that the creature merely is not a suitable husk of the Proletariat class in Shelley’s novel, no matter how hard Shelley tries. The creature cannot identify himself with the Proletariat because he does not understand their pains and labors, despite him lending a secretive helping hand.

-Jody Omlin

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Laugh out Loud

Throughout the years, the avoidance of confrontation will result in the inevitable return of the conflict. When confronted with conflicts, our primal instinct is to be able to repress the trouble for it is both easy and seemingly sensible. Warren Montag’s perception of confrontation of the novel is that The Monster within Frankenstein is the visual representation of the industrial working class. Coincidentally, Victor represents the upper class of society. We can argue that the dispute within The Monster and his creator combines both the pity and fear that The Monster had towards Victor ever since he was created right to the very last transitions of the novel. Frankenstein is portrayed as a slave of technology.

Before initiating his argument, Montag provides analytical information for why the time that novel was published plays a major role towards his theory. Despite that the French Revolution came to a close just prior to the novel’s publication, it’s never mentioned once throughout the novel. Montag argues these discrepancies “are precise that will allow us to proceed from the work to the history on which it depends and what made it possible” [385]. His theory strengthed throughout many segments throughout the novel as in which The Monster is being compromised by a “multitude of different individuals…” [387]. Ultimately, The Monster is not a simply a creation that has gone array for Dr. Frankenstein, but rather a product of science and technological innovation and to further understand this, it’s an “artificial being as destructive as it is powerful” [388].

What differentiates Victor from The Monster is the manner of coping with loss. “Alas! Life is obstinate and clings closest to where it is most hated” [167]. Victor’s tone drastically shifts from defeat to mere determination in order to destroy what he created from the start. And as the last sentences come to a close, The Monster’s objective to destroy his creator through feelings only feeds Victor’s desire to rise once again and replenish his life from sorrow and depression. “For a moment only did I lose recollection; I fell senseless on the ground” [167]. Only then was when Victor was in the same position as The Monster, only to finally realize for what he’s truly created. A Monster, not, what he had thought for from the start, but through the neglect, he inflicted towards him, and the feelings that he eventually developed truly exemplifies the actions of The Monster whose main objective is to bring along down with him as his creator.

Although it’s undeniable to foresee The Monster’s relation to the proletariat, Mary Shelley’s novel is too complex to be reduced to “…a mere allegory” [389]. Due to this, Montag decides to examine the novel from a Marxist perspective in order to be able to analyze the history present outside of the contents of the novel. Subliminally, the setting of the novel is set in a pre-modern world, establishing that there is no place for such being as The Monster, and is alienated for most of the portion of Shelley’s novel. Montag concludes with, “if a certain historical reality is inscribed within the work as a monster to be expelled into ‘darkness and distance’… the act of repression can only postpone its inevitable return” [395]. The Monster is a living being whos’ main objective in life was never understood until his desire for love was flourished as he learned to become more human furthermore than a mere scientific product. I must deny with Montag’s claims as portraying The Monster as a proletariat, to a certain extent. No, he doesn’t work to obtain a living for himself, but in contrast, he is a being that’s sole purpose to live for is to love and give love. Because that ultimately makes him be at peace, and to further stray away from the one who created him in the first place.

– Stephen Muñoz

By Jade Graham

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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.

 

Frankenstein: The Novel vs. the Myth

As children, we all thought that we had known who Frankenstein was; the bumbling green monster who could barely string a handful of words together, with its dramatized square-shaped head and metal bolts jutting out from its large neck. We didn’t even consider him as a real living creature, only an object. Not only was it a symbol of fear during Halloween, but has now (more popularly) become a comedic character in children’s shows and movies. One example is from the new popular animated movie, Hotel Transylvania 3: Summer Vacation.

After reviewing and reading through Frankenstein, however, we see a whole different world. We’re exposed to a completely different character, one that we aren’t sure how to react to. For one, our so-called monster is actually nameless, put into this world with no identity. Frankenstein, first name being Victor, is actually the creator of the creature we had been stereotyping this entire time. The creature in Shelley’s novel is nothing how we were forced to perceive him to be.

The creature is born into a world where he is instantly hated by his creator, by his presumable “mother”, if we must give Victor the role of this creation’s parent. Victor’s cruelness automatically evicts pity from us to the creature, since we can envision this creation as something completely helpless and in need of direction, which he had been so horribly shoved away from. At this point in time, we begin to humanize him.

We also see that the creature has very human qualities, such as complex emotions and strong intelligence that is unexpected from a science experiment thought to have gone wrong. In the novel, we are the witnesses to the creature’s mental growth as he is quickly shunned by Victor and must discover humanity himself. In fact, to call this creation a monster is completely incorrect, seeing that the reason we fear this creation is because of how human he becomes.

This creature, the one we have humanized, is no monster; the only true beast we witness in this novel is Victor Frankenstein, himself.

-Jody Omlin

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By: Jade Graham

I first saw the painting above in my AP English Literature and Composition class around this time last year. Painted by Henry Fuseli in 1781, The Nightmare was presented to me as a cautionary tale. Shelley herself was influenced by Fuseli’s work used as a symbol for the monster within everyone. The creepy incubus next to the also creepy horse is known as a demon that craves sex and preys on women as a whole. The idea of having Elizabeth as Victor’s wife (or whatever you would like to refer her as) being portrayed as pure, innocent, wearing white, and a nice formal girl: a perfect target for an incubus. Now, not to say that an incubus does appear in Frankenstein however it does connect to Elizabeth’s death. Her similar pose and the monster killing her does relate to The Nightmare.

As for my previous conceptions about Frankenstein and the myths surrounding it, I only knew that the monster was bad and that a crazy guy created him. Only until I read the book in high school did my whole perspective change. The 1931 movie adaption with this clip:

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was wrong. Victor is horrified in the novel and regret sets it. The reader can feel bad for both Victor and the creature, and for good reasons too. But in the end, Frankenstein is many things including a cautionary tale. The idea of greed, desire, fame, all led to destruction, murder, and chaos. Victor chose to dig up body parts and create something that was never meant to be created. He and Walton are examples of not only men but people who cross the line. Just because you can do something, doesn’t mean you should always do it.

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

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.

21-58629591Okay, truth be told, I didn’t know literally anything about Frankenstein until I started reading the book for this class. My limited knowledge included: there was a mad scientist who played around with things he probably shouldn’t have and brought to life a creature that would end up causing many causalities. In fact, much like a lot of the other students in class, I didn’t know the monster wasn’t actually named Frankenstein until about a year ago when a friend of mine mentioned that the name actually belonged to the mad scientist (Victor Frankenstein) who created the monster, and not the actual creature itself. I was so ignorant of the story and the characters that for a while, I actually thought the character ‘Lurch’ from “The Addams Family” was the same as the monster from Frankenstein.

It comes as no surprise that as I progressed through the book I was completely blown away by how different—to how I thought it was—and intricate this story actually is. I think the thing that shocked me the most as well as other students was the fact that the monster did actually have a consciousness, he feels things, he actually has thoughts—his character is very much human. A human who is confused and abandoned and just wants to feel accepted by society. Yet because he is left to his own accord without any guidance and because of his “hideous” appearance he is treated as an outsider and is constantly shunned. And this raises the question of who is really the Monster? The cold-hearted mad scientist who abandoned his creation because he did not see what he liked or the initially gentle giant who was constantly misunderstood and forced to seek revenge due to the amount of hurt he received from those around him? I for one sympathize with the monster, and do not blame him for his actions despite them being pretty chilling.

I really am grateful I got to read this novel and am very excited to discuss and analyze each and every theme and/or character in this novel and relate it to modern day.

-Laura Mateo Gallegos

By Steven Gonzalez

I, having never read Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein before, held this basic oversimplified belief that Frankenstein was the story of an archetypal mad scientist who creates a monster who then terrorizes him for the remainder of the story. After reading the novel, I have come to discover the incredible complexity exhibited not only in the plot of the novel, but in the writing style, character development, and in the themes/motifs. Additionally, I felt that the way in which the novel was written (using frame narratives) not only aided in the development of key characters but allowed for readers to connect and empathize with multiple characters despite their horrendous wrong-doings or their great flaws in character. Moreover, I found the various motifs and themes in the novel intriguing; one that I found especially compelling was the motif of a God/Creator expressed via the relationship between Victor Frankenstein and the monster. The monster continually refers to Frankenstein as his creator throughout the novel and even expresses a sort of altruistic devotion towards Frankenstein much like is done for the Judeo-Christian God. This devotion is exemplified when the monster confronts Frankenstein to tell him his story proclaiming ” I am thy creature, and I will be even mild and docile to my natural lord and king… Remember, I am thy creature; I ought to be thy Adam, but I am rather the fallen angel” (Shelley 69). That last mention of the fallen angel is a reference to John Milton’s Paradise Lost, an epic poem that tells the Judeo-Christian Genesis story from the perspective of the devil (the fallen angel). Just as John Milton attempts to evoke sympathy in the reader for the devil, Shelley attempts to evoke sympathy for the monster in the audience despite his appalling and blasphemous actions. Shelley’s use of frame narratives makes it easy to do this by largely focusing on the monster’s personal struggles and his desire to be more “human”. The themes and motifs that I continue to find a few days after reading the novel still amaze me. What was once a basic childhood science-fiction story in my mind has become an incredible piece of literature worth analyzing and studying.

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Wendolin Gutierrez

Prior to reading Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, Frankenstein’s monster was presented to me primarily in two lights: as a lumbering creature lacking cognitive skills and as a fiend driven a desire for violence. I was very surprised to read that the “monster” is well-spoken, understands his emotions, and more importantly is able to reason— much like us humans. Reflecting on the view I had of the creature before reading the novel and the similar preconceptions other students had, I wondered why the intellectual characteristics of the monster aren’t the first traits people associate with him. I soon realized it boiled down to man’s pride of being the only creature capable of reason and our refusal to acknowledge our own monstrous traits and capabilities.

Although Frankenstein’s monster lacked important abilities, like speech and literacy, in the beginning of his new life and proved aggressive in a number of instances, he eventually educated himself and displayed kindness to the De Lacey family, demonstrating that he is not one-dimensional. Instead, the creature possesses these traits, those that I previously had of him, and many more just as humans express a variety of emotions and can be wise or foolish in various settings. However, we still choose to look at Frankenstein’s monster from narrow perspectives and disregard his dynamic likeness to us. I believe that these limited views come from what is considered “monster.”

People usually associate “monster” with “inhuman” or “abnormal,” specifically in appearance but the term can also be applied when describing behavior. While many would consider Lurch, the Addams family’s butler, a monster for his physical appearance, Adolf Hitler can be classified as a monster for the millions of deaths committed under his orders. What these individuals share that categorizes them as “monsters” are their divergence from the idea of “normal, functioning humans.” Lurch doesn’t look like a regular human so he is not, just as Hitler’s repulsive actions, that would not be committed by a regular person, dismiss him of his humanity.

Frankenstein’s monster’s ignorance and anger have been singled out and exaggerated in the popular culture I have been exposed to as too ignorant or overly aggressive to be able to reason and be human. By focusing on his stupidity, the “monster” would not have the mental capacity to think critically and make conscious decisions. If he is only driven by anger and violence, the creature cannot consider all possible consequences as he will always choose to react with violence. Nevertheless, we see in Shelley’s novel that he can reason and reflect on the situations he is placed in, just as we humans pride ourselves so much on. This negativity, almost repulsiveness, applied to certain traits of Frankenstein’s creation feeds man’s ego as a superior being that distances itself from these “monstrous” associations. However, the “monster” in Shelley’s novel blurs the line between monster and human, demonstrating we might not be as reasonable as we believe.