Tag Archive: middle class


Distance

When Montag concludes that the creature is “not so much the sign of the proletariat as of its unrepresentability” I believe this section of Montag’s essay means that the creature does not really give sight that it could possibly represent the working class and all its struggles but rather is not really viewed in that point of view. So the creature has the hidden background that it could possibly be the working class but is not viewed as that by the readers which then shows the unrepresentability of the working class in the character of the creature.

However, Montag’s essay was a bit difficult to read but I do see where Montag’s interpretation of the characters in Shelley’s novel comes from. Although, I do feel like there are a lot of key factors to think of when considering the monster as the proletariat. For example, the creature was created by a man of a higher class standing or the creature being incredibly smart by teaching himself. Most, if not, all the working class could not afford education, leading them to become uneducated. Another thing is the word distance and solitude that constantly popped up in Montag’s essay and all that came to my mind was the distance that people place themselves in their status’. Such as the middle-class, the working-class and so forth. Also, the distance that science places people at such as Frankenstein going into solitude or becoming “sick” after his creation. I found it interesting that Montag placed science as its own category rather than connecting it to the middle-class.

By: Carmen Ibarra

 

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

By: Jocelyn Lemus

the creation

Each person that reads Mary Shelley’s novel, Frankenstein, tends to develop new key ideas and perspectives towards what there is to believe and what is there to know. As reading Warren Montag’s essay, “The Workshop of Filthy Creation”: A Marxist Reading of Frankenstein, Montag gets into conclusion with the idea that the creature is “not so much the sign of the proletariat as of its unrepresentability”(480). This idea made me realize how important it is to shape this concept as reading the novel. In my personal ideas, I disagree with Montag’s way of thinking because througout the book there was definitely a correlation between the creature and Victor with the concept of a proletariat.

As reading the novel, Mary Shelley gives Victor the power to label his creature as his slave. In the book, Victor labels the creature as, “Slave… Remember that I have power”(146). This demonstrates how the creature is depicted as someone that comes from a lower class. As we already know, the word ‘proletariat’ does identify someone as working class people. In which this case, Victor and the creature seem to fit in, in the image of that because they both don’t quite seem to know who controls who. They both are lost with the idea that one has power over the other. However, in this situation they both seem to consciously know what and who the power is being created by.

In the novel, the creature finds itself with little solace in anyone or anything. From the very start, it is ostracized heavily and shunned by everyone it encounters. Human hostility, and more specifically Victor’s own hostility, to the creature is an example of a deeply entrenched social hierarchy– a group with material possessions; family; friendship; essentially, features that reinforce their status as the dominant class (Victor/humanity) over a weaker group that is much less benefited in society (the creature). The dynamic between Victor and the creature defines this class struggle most clearly, as Victor is a well-educated middle class capitalist with a middle class family he loves and middle class friends, like Henry Clerval, he cherishes (and weeps heavily for when Clerval and several family members are murdered by the creature). Compare this relative assortment of riches to the creature, who unfortunately has absolutely none of what Victor has, not even basic compassion nor respect from anyone. The novel makes a connection between the urban lower-class proletariats of the era and the creature and concurrently devotes little narrative focus and few depictions to the former in order to magnify the grotesque nature of the latter (grotesque features = the lower-class of society). When Warren Montag states that the creature is “not so much the sign of the proletariat as of its unrepresentability” (395), I agree because of the gross oversimplification the novel makes in caricaturing a whole class of people into a repulsive figure, as well as how it makes the connection and representation through a blatant omission of any focus/attention at all towards that whole class of people. It is unrepresented through what is supposed to be its representation.

As Montag writes in “The ‘Workshop of Filthy Creation’: A Marxist Reading of Frankenstein,” the aforementioned dynamic in the novel is driven by how the novel chooses to focus and overlook certain features of society. The urban proletariat underclass of society, as well as lower-class urban life in general, is barely mentioned, and this magnifies the creature’s plight because he most identifies with the disadvantaged urban proletariat lower-class. “Frankenstein’s monster is finally not identified with the working class of Mary Shelley’s time but with its absence” (395), Montag states, and this is reinforced by the novel’s focus on Victor’s middle-class lifestyle, family, love of education, time spent at universities, and “frequent portraits of natural vistas and rural scenes” (394). “No significant descriptions of the urban world” (394) are given, most glaringly concerning London, a city going through “a time of explosive growth and development [but] is not described at all although [Victor] and Clerval passes ‘some months’ there” (394). The fact that these guys spend months in such a booming city with no descriptive imagery, nothing even close to how the novel lushly depicts rural landscapes, indicates that this is an intentional oversight of detailing urban proletariat life. We as readers live in and follow Victor’s bubble of middle class living and the middle class friends, family, aspirations, interests, and lifestyle that are all associated with him. That is, until the creature comes along who, in the midst of our near-total absorption into Victor’s middle-class perspective, is “the sole embodiment of the industrial in an otherwise rural world, and this is the source of his monstrousness” (394). The creature even “makes explicit his identification with the working class” (394) at certain points in the novel to affirm the embodiment. The creature is so monstrous due to how different it is to Victor’s middle class world, which is, as previously stated, the main focus and viewpoint of the novel. Montag couldn’t have said it any better: “The narrative precisely suppresses all that is modern in order to render [the creature] inexplicable and unprecendented” (395). If the urban proletariat underclass was given any significant narrative attention in the novel, it would make the creature less grotesque due to more grotesque ilk like him around; this conclusion is reached purely based on how the novel “links the image of the monster to the industrial proletariat: an unnatural being, singular even in its collective identity, without a genealogy and belonging to no species” (395). The creature is thus almost like a dehumanizing figure with respect to the lower-class proletariats, with it simply representing “the mass [of urban industrial lower-class people] reduced to the absolute singularity of Frankenstein’s creation, which is therefore not so much the sign of the proletariat as of its unrepresentability” (395). The lower class is not truly represented here because of the way it is portrayed.