Tag Archive: Mary Shelley


The Creature inside the Fire

By~Amber Loper

Image result for Frankenstein fire

Frankenstein’s Monster, if cared for, can be controlled for good.  But Frankenstein faces the issue of man’s negligence, causing a problem where it could have otherwise been avoided. Although, there are outside forces that made this inevitable: Man’s unquenchable desire to uncover the secrets of life. The Monster kills, not because it is in its nature, but because it can’t control itself and by the time Victor tries to do something about it, it is too late. In the Novel, blame is placed, by authorities, not on the cause of the problem (the monster), but on other reasons not connected to Victor’s Creation, like poor Justine. In the end, this isn’t about a monster that has gone out of control. This is about waiting too long to solve an issue that has been around for years, but ignorance has led to unnecessary deaths and destruction.

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Fire, if cared for, can be controlled for good. But California faces the issue of man’s negligence, causing a problem where it could have otherwise been avoided. Although, there are outside forces that made this inevitable. Nature’s un-quinched thirst for rain spanning years. Fire kills, not because it is in its nature, but because it can’t control itself and by the time man tries to do something about it, it is too late. In California, blame is placed, by our president, not on the cause of the problem (no rain), but on other reasons not connected to global warming, like poor state management. In the end, this isn’t about a fire that has gone out of control. This is about waiting too long to solve an issue that has been around for years, but ignorance has led to unnecessary deaths and destruction.

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One As Nature

An ecocritical interpretation of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein teaches us that although climate change can be the result of environmental processes, we, as natural beings, must acknowledge ourselves as part of the natural world and recognize the power of our activities that disrupt and change the state of the earth in order to prevent its destruction. While the climate conditions described in the novel and during Shelley’s production of the text were likely the result of the eruption of Mount Tambora in 1815, and not a man-made dilemma, the creation of the Creature was because of Victor and manipulation of the natural world. The monster who, while put together by a man, is an amalgamation of various bits of humans, a biological product of the natural world, is not distressed by the icy conditions facing Europe in the summer, unlike Victor who often describes the natural world as intimidating, like the Alps just as he does with his creation and classifies these dangers as innate qualities, rather than the possible result of his actions. It is through this dissociation from the natural world that some individuals in the present, when faced with environmental crises like recent megafires in California, refuse to consider the effects the human population has had on the nature for these disasters to arise, just as Victor affected nature in his mistreatment of the monster, despite scientific evidence of it. Because these people reject to realize they themselves are natural components of the environment and evade their role in its declining status, like Victor runs from his fear of the monster, they do not see their actions to be blamed for the chaos that goes around them and, as a result, do not find need to change their practices to correct these issues. Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein teaches that we, as products of nature, have influence on it’s well-being, as much as volcanic eruptions or other inevitable phenomena, and must become like Frankenstein’s monster in acknowledging that link in order to realize when we have caused the world damage to mend it and our own faults.

-Wendy Gutierrez

Barriers and Identity

Bianca Lopez Munoz

Safie’s tale is not only about her uncertainty and rejection but also her determination. “The prospect of marrying a Christian and remaining in a country where women were allowed to take a rank in society, was enchanting to her” (112). Because of her mother, Safie is not only curious about the world beyond her servitude, but she also wishes and aspires for a better situation than she is currently at. The same sort of aspirations go for Safie’s father, though shady, he does aspire to be in a better place than incarcerated. Both these individuals are criminalized and rejected by Western society because they are foreigners. Felix sees the injustice they experience and decides to help. The creature, who has been rejected by humanity this whole time, craves acceptance and he seeks that acceptance in Victor. The creature sees Victor as a possible gateway for acceptance and stability in his nomadic life.

The borderlands that Gloria E. Anzaldúa talks about are invisible that are placed on individuals wether they be language barriers or geographical border lines. Safie faced a language barrier with Felix and physical barriers while moving through different countries. Similarly, the creature also faced language barriers as well as geographical barriers, they climbed mountains and walk through forests with not much knowledge of the area! Safie’s mother was a christian arab and her father was not. This, added to her connection with Felix, adds to her ‘creolization’ or the mixing of her culture with Felix’s and is some form of mestizaje. The creature is a mix of different individual’s body parts, as well as what they learned through reading and observing humanity so that in itself is a form of mixing of perspectives.

The marginalization in Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein is not limited to the monster as discourse on other peoples, like the Turkish Safie, are also presented. This inclusion demonstrates how the the subaltern crosses cultures and lands, both figuratively and literally, and is constructed by the view of the body or people in power, distorting a subject’s view of themselves.

The stem from the philosophies of W.E.B. DuBois and Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o. According to W.E.B. DuBois, the “veil” or “double consciousness” is the idea that individuals, especially that of minorities and disenfranchised people, are seen from the view of those in power, usually white, colonizing people, and from their own view perspective. As a result, marginalized subjects are insiders, by inhabiting a society and existing as singular beings, but also outsiders, since they do not and are, therefore, outsiders. The problem with this is that the perspective of the ruling becomes the dominant one that is pressed onto the subjected as truth, hindering the individual subject from realizing their own subjectivity because of governing interference, which Thiong’o terms internal colonialism. As a result of internal colonialism, the way of colonized or subjugated people is seen as flawed or inferior. By adopting the values and beliefs of those in power, people abide by the “proper,” “civil” social ideals established by dominant forces, despite the civility already present in their old ways that simply weren’t an exact reproduction of the dominant.

These theories are presented in Frankenstein through the relationship of the monster and Safie to the communities they inhabit and oppress them. Both characters are placed into societies in which they are expected to abide by, especially as members of marginalized people like women and the deformed. Safie is “sickened at the prospect of…being immured within the walls of a haram, allowed only to occupy herself with infantile amusements, ill suited to the temper of her soul, now accustomed to grand ideas and noble emulation for virtue” (Shelley 111). While the ideals set on women in the Turkish society Safie comes from is considered the proper life for women to follow, as determined by the men in power in the patriarchal society, it’s not the case of Safie. This would undoubtedly be the faith of Safie if she were to have stayed in her homeland in which she falls within society as a Turk but, through the eyes of the powerful, is also an outsider for being a woman with virtually no power or authority to dictate social protocol. While Safie is able to leave this society and migrate to Europe, she is still acknowledged as an outsider as a result of her place of origin, and consequential difference in appearance, and as a woman. The monster’s experience is similar as he inhabits a society in which one must abide by certain appearances and manners. While he, like Safie, attempts to gain knowledge of Western thought, the dominating philosophy, and intellect in order to assimilate and become fully integrated into the community, he will always be viewed as an outsider because of his inhuman appearance and origin from the dead. Nevertheless, the reigning European values and ideals is still held as the proper one. Safie and the monster can’t be full insiders of the society and are subjected to the ruling consciousness, despite the tension with their own individual consciousness as people who have been no different from those in power whose perceptions have internally colonized, nor less civilized. For this reason, Safie and the monster weep over “the hapless fate” of the Native Americans (108). Although North America was Native land, European colonization asserted power over the natives and established their ideals of beauty, civilization, and government onto the people, despite already being established. The Native Americans become a minority and foreigners in their own land and submit to the governing consciousness and colonizing ideals Safie and the monster have been convinced of. While all these groups are expected to follow the tenets of the societies that dominate them, they can never truly be a part of them and they know it.

-Wendy Gutierrez

The term “monster” gets thrown around more often than people think. It is consistently used as a form of degradation. This is especially obvious in Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein where the Victor Frankenstein’s creation is constantly called a “monster” by the people that come across it. One instance where the Creature’s rage is apparent is when he encounters young William Frankenstein and subsequently kills him.

“‘Hideous monster! let me go. My papa is a Syndic–he is M. Frankenstein–he will punish you. You dare not keep me” (126).

This elicits a reaction from the Creature that is full of rage. Here is a child throwing around words that are more harmful than he can imagine. Which brings me to Jessica Rae Fisher’s piece on Transgender Rage and Kindness. Jessica talks about how words like “monster” have been used in reference to transgender individuals and the negative effects this use of the word have had on these individuals. She makes a point to reference a statistic from the 2015 U.S. Transgender Survey that puts it into perspective how much these words affect transgender individuals.

These words have the power to further isolate individuals and make them feel as even more different than they already feel. This sort of emotion is rampant in the novel as well. The Creature in that same moment also experiences rage among other emotions. It has been subjected to constant verbal abuse that can only lead to a tipping point.

“Can you wonder that such thoughts transported me with rage? 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).

The Creature most certainly felt isolated and beyond that it felt rage. Regardless of what the Creature did it would never be fully accepted or at least that is the way it saw itself.

Perhaps reclaiming words so they no longer have the power to hurt people is the way to make an initial change. Ultimately this issue goes beyond words but that is certainly a start.

By Diana Lara

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.

Frankenstein

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.

With Acceptance

By Jade Graham

Bullying is an issue that will never cease. Members of the LGBTQ community sadly realize this. There will always be people who do not accept someone for who they are/want to be. They push and push every button till there is death. Love is love and people change themselves because that is their choice. Their choices are seen as wrong to others and because of that, what they should be gone from this world? Those who are seen as “different” (but have feelings and should be accepted for whatever their choices are) have to accept that just like Jessica Rae Fischer did when she came to terms with relating to Frankenstein’s creation the Monster.

People can easily relate to an outsider like the creature. When someone is considered an outsider and ostracized for who they are that person feels shame. The monster as people started to call him began to believe it, cast out from society and left alone. As the bullying continued from others including Victor, the creature continued to lash out and seek revenge. That can be considered an effect of bullying, the consequences for other”s behavior and their actions. No person or creature deserves to be bullied because of their looks or how they change their appearance.

Victor also struggled. There was talk in class about how Victor desired a sex change and the want of a male partner which we all understand. Yet, he did not realize it. That idea of not believing or in denial was common for Frankenstein’s time period. People did admit to having feelings for their same gender, let alone wanting to be their opposite gender. Victor’s connections with the females in his life as seen as poorly developed. While the male relationships are stronger and more caring. Imagine if Mary Shelley halfway through her novel made Victor become transgender. What would have happened? One thing is for sure. It would be a completely different novel.

One thing that’s interesting is how (having lived near and spent a good amount of time) in Seattle there is pride among the LGBTQ community, yet the volunteer group that Filisa Vistima was involved with did not allow transsexuals to be a part of their community. The idea of “admitted transsexuals the SBWN would no longer be a women’s organization”  is an appalling one (Stryker). The whole reason these volunteer community groups are started in the first place is to create a sense of belonging. How are people supposed to feel accepted about their life choices when they are not even welcomed in the first place? It’s quite sad to say, but there need to be more safe spaces for those who need and want it. Not everyone in society is always going to be welcoming with open arms. But there can be people who are.

As more people continue to read Frankenstein, the more people are exposed to the idea of sexuality within the novel and possibly come to realize the damage bullying has on people like Jessica Rae Fischer.

To practice open-mindedness. That is the key to accepting people for who they are. Not as a society blinded by ignorance and rudeness, but as kind individuals who accept each other as they are. No matter their differences and life choices.

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Frankenstein’s creature’s life, like that of transgender individuals, is governed by the medicalization and consequential classification of their bodies into two narrow categories at birth based on phenotypic traits. When talking to Victor, the creature tells him that he read the written observations and descriptions Victor had written to record the procedures and results of his experiment. Frankenstein’s creature states, “Every thing is related in them which bears reference to my accursed origin; the whole detail of that series of disgusting circumstances which produced it, is set in view; the minutest description of my odious and lonesome person is given, in language which painted your own horrors, and rendered mine indelible” (Shelley 116). Since Victor abandoned the creature as soon as he was fabricated and, therefore, was not able to witness the cognitive actions of the monster, these notes likely revolved around the creature’s “monstrous” appearance. Records of such an appearance would be the source of visual horrors for Victor. Similarly, these records would be horrors to the creature but because of the marking of their life which the papers would identify. The content of Victor’s notes render the creature’s fears “indelible” not just because they won’t be forgotten from the mind of the creature, but because the characteristics that compose the creature as an individual are literally marked and cannot be erased. The creature never reveals which of the two most socially accepted genders of male or female was assigned or if they was assigned one to begin with. Nevertheless, whatever is on the paper is given legitimacy, the same way the sex and gender of individuals are given legitimacy on medical and legal documents until the person attempts to correct it.

This is a major issue faced by the transgender community that makes them choose between their humanity constructed by genders assigned by social standards and their individuality reflected by the gender they personally identify with. Creature, along with other neo-pronouns, is a term that would be appropriately reclaimed by members of the transgender community, like Susan Styrker author of “My Words to Victor Frankenstein above the Village of Chamounix: Performing Transgender Rage” and Jessica Rae Fisher “I am Frankenstein’s Monster: An echo of Susan Stryker’s call to action,” as they could identify with the term’s concurrent humanity and othering by society. According to Stryker in her essay, “A creature, after all, in the dominant tradition of Western European culture, is nothing other than a created being, a made thing” (Stryker 240) Every human is a creature. The negative connotation of the term comes from “the lack or loss of a  superior personhood” (Stryker 240) associated with the term by other people, because creature could also include animals and non-human forms. Because people want to maintain their status as “lords of creation” (Stryker 240) they reduce creature to a subordinate term to demean others of their humanity and rank them below themselves. Thus, the reclamation of the word by the transgender community simultaneously reflects their existence and creation like other humans and their oppression by other people who misgender them. By disregarding the individuality of transgender people and assigning them genders a person sees them as at face value, according to narrow, ambiguous social guidelines, outsiders take possession of the identities of transgender folk and pathologize their bodies based on appearance the same way Victor Frankenstein has done with his experiment. The transgender rage Stryker and Fisher express is a matter of agency and visibility on their own terms and authority, not that which governs their lives and those of many other trans people.

-Wendy Gutierrez

The Creature is all of us?

in Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein the creature can be viewed as a physical representation of the working class when analyzed through a feminist view. It can be viewed as this since Anne Mellor’s essay attacks the society and how it is structured to be a man’s world. So viewing the creature as the working class and it being a man goes to show how everyone in this time period believed that women couldn’t work in the labor force. They did this since they believed women couldn’t possibly have the same mental and/or physical capabilities of a man.

It is evident, after reading Anne Mellor’s A Feminist Critique of Science, that Mary Shelley was not in agreance with Humphrey Davy’s views on chemistry, being “chemistry might discover the secret of life itself” (pg. 2). According to Mellor, Davy believed that the ideal “master” chemist will be able to “modify and change the beings surrounding him, and by his experiments to interrogate nature with power, not simply as a scholar, passive and seeking only to understand her operations, but rather as a master, active with his own instruments” (pg. 3). Shelley actually considered this “bad science” because it’s the “the hubristic manipulation of the elemental forces of nature to serve man’s private ends” (pg. 1) and recognized “good science” as “the detailed and reverent description of the workings of nature” (pg. 1), such as Eramus Darwins method of “a careful observation and celebration of the operations of all-creating nature with no attempt radically to change either the way nature works or the institutions of society” (pg. 4). Due to Shelley’s view of Davy’s “instrumental activities as profoundly dangerous” (pg. 3), she created Victor Frankenstein with the same, if not similar, views as Davy to exaggerate the danger to come if one contains those views.

One could go as far as to say that Victor Frankenstein is a hyperbole, or critique, of Humphrey Davy and his views on science due to his will “to control or change the universe through human intervention” (pg. 1). Therefore, Shelley created Victor Frankenstein, a man who is the “embodiment of hubris, of that Satanic or Faustian presumption which blasphemously attempts to tear asunder the sacred mysteries of nature” (pg. 3), to mirror Davy,  mock his views even. Shelley’s goal is “to draw between the scholar-scientist who seeks only to understand the operations of nature and the master-scientist who actively interferes with nature” (pg. 3) and she does this by revealing the womb/God envy this creates, which Victor is a product of. When scientist interfere with nature, it is suggested that they want to play God, which Victor ultimately wants to do when he admits he wants to create his own species through the quote, “A new species would bless me as its creator and source; many happy and excellent natures would owe their being to me (p. 49)” and he wants to do so without sexual reproduction. Can you say womb envy much? God envy even? Victor is so infatuated with defying the natural order and “[originating] a new life-form quickly, by chemical means” (pg. 6), that he himself starts to take on the form of the missing woman in the situation and refers to himself as “timid as a love-sick girl, and alternate tremor and passionate ardour took the place of wholesome sensation and regulated ambition. (p. 51)” and even becomes sick for a matter of months as if he is pregnant, conveyed through the quote, “Frankenstein literally becomes sick in the process of carrying out his experiment: ‘every night I was oppressed by a slow fever, and I became nervous to a most painful degree’ (p. 51); and at its completion, he collapses in ‘a nervous fever’ that confines him to his sickbed for several months” (pg. 12). Sounds like womb envy to me.

All in all, Shelley took her disagreement with Davy’s view on taking nature into one’s own hands and interfering with it and illustrated through a science fiction horror novel what might happen if one gets too carried away with this idea. Ultimately, Anne Mellor suggests that Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein was a big “F*** you” to Humphrey Davy’s ideal master chemist.

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– Jaimee Watson Continue reading