Tag Archive: peace


Justice is innocent

– Bianca Lopez Munoz

In William Godwin’s piece, “Enquiry Concerning Political Justice”, Godwin expresses that in his opinion, a revolution shouldn’t be violent and resentful. It should be a be a peaceful event where wealth is distributed among everyone equally. An event where all social classes have a conversation, have a mutual understanding of what everyone wants, and unite. Instead of men taking advantage of each other’s distresses, and in self interest, seek momentary gratification, that they should love liberty, love equality, pursuit arts, and have a desire for knowledge. And through this men will sympathize with each other and therefore a revolution would be a tranquil and orderly phenomenon.

By definition or mutual understanding, Justice is fair behavior and treatment, it is moral righteousness. During revolutions people seek justice and do things in the name of justice, good or bad. When I went back to the parts of Frankenstein where Justine was accused, tried, and executed for the murder of William, as I was reading, I would replace Justine’s name with the word Justice and it was incredibly interesting to see how well some passages worked with the change of language. “A servant in Geneva does not mean the same thing as a servant in France or England, Justine… learned the duties of a servant; a condition which…does not include the idea of ignorance, and a sacrifice of the dignity of a human being” (66). Now replace Justine with the word Justice in this quote. Justice is a servant. Ignorance and the sacrafice of human dignity is not part of justice, like in England or France (where people were murdered and it was extremely chaotic and unjust). When Victor finally gets back to his father’s home in Geneva he tells Ernest, “You are all mistaken; I know the murderer. Justine, poor Justine, is innocent” (77). Again replace Justine with the word justice. Justice is innocent. The evil things like murder that people do in the name of justice actually have nothing to do with justice and it is just a way to defend their actions. During Justine’s trial, Elizabeth appeals for Justine and says, “when I see a fellow creature about to parish through the cowardice of her pretended friends…”(81). This again, goes back to people using justice as a tool to justify and not take responsibility for their wrong doings during revolution. I remind you that all of this is happening because Victor Frankenstein decided to bring to life, a creature, which killed his brother, which indirectly killed Justine. Victor know’s he holds some blame to the death of his brother but refuses to speak up about it since he fears people will think he is insane. Victor did what William Godwin thinks people should not do. Victor took advantage of Justine’s distress, and in letting someone else be blamed for the death of William, he found momentary gratification for his sins but it wasn’t too long before he became guilty of the death of Justine. The revolution of the creature shouldn’t be violent and resentful as are the actions of the creature and Victor. I believe these things could have been avoided if Victor hadn’t run from his creation. Had he stayed and like, Godwin stated, had a conversation and sympathyzed with the creature, things could have possibly has a more “natural and tranquil progress”(Godwin).

Rilee Hoch

William Godwin has a unique perspective in his criticism of the French Revolution.  He believes that if humanity would use our knowledge to properly communicate our thoughts and emotions, that justice would come naturally and a peaceful revolution would ensue. Then, that peaceful revolution would dissolve the unjust class system and result in an equal distribution of property. Justine’s death from this perspective then represents the rash actions of the French people who, rather than causing positive change with no violence, murder justice with their revolution. Justine in the passage literally represents justice, and her death the destruction of it. The Creature in this case represents the foolish French who rushed into to their revolution with action rather than sentiment which resulted in death, destruction and overall anarchy. The passage overall can be seen as a critique of Godwin’s ideology, but not in a way to disprove its idea but rather that it cannot work because the emotions of people do not allow for it.

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If instead they had used reason and negotiations, the French and the Creature would have both received better results. Just like how the Creature places the blame for his crime on Justine without thinking it through and considering different approaches, the people take their anger out on the monarchy and throw all justice aside for death via guillotine. The Creature let his anger take over, just like the French, it  “stirred the fiend within me” (127), and yet for both parties there was no positive result. They both blame Justice or the lack thereof so they decide to make it pay recompense. Due to this many innocent lives are lost, including the life of Justine who is simply an innocent child. The Creature was never shown Justice so he decides make Justine pay saying “She shall suffer.. she shall atone” (127). It is ironic that he says he has learned this practice from Felix who had previously done an injustice to the Creature, so we see the pattern of abuse continue, which started when Felix also suffered injustice via Sofie’s father. If he had followed Godwin’s model however, he would have though more clearly and paid attention to the “the great instrument of justice, reason. We should communicate our sentiments… press them upon the attention of others” (Godwin 790). This idea of contemplating different approaches is clearly absent in the text. We can see that the cycle of pain will only stop when we choose to use truth over violence, and put our selfish emotions and desire to shed blood from anger aside. If they had not resorted to violent uproars and a bloody revolution, Justice would not have paid the price for other peoples mistakes and the outcome might have been a peaceful and happy ending. This however is not done, in the text or in history. Here we can see the commentary against Godwin’s ideology in actual practice, that we simply will not allow it to work, we cannot.

By Alex Luna

In William Godwin’s Enquiry Concerning Political Justice, he asserts readers to not use force or violence, rather nonviolent protest in order to bring about change in justice so we can attain happiness. In relation to Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, we can see this message being preached through the death of Justine, Victors family’s servant. In this particular scene, Justine’s death signifies the death of justice itself, if people continue resorting to violence as the answer, through Victor and the creature.

From the beginning of the passage Elizabeth says “why do you kneel, if you are innocent?” (83). Here we can gain a sense of sympathy for Justine, and are reminded of her pureness, similar to how justice itself is viewed ideologically. Everyone wants justice, but here it is injustice that Justine is dealing with, by being framed for Williams death. Furthermore, we can see how justice can be torn down by violent acts such as Williams death.Justine says “I almost began to think that I was the monster that he said I was.”(83).  When relating this back to the french revolution, it’s interesting to see this parallel. When society revolted against the monarchy, depending on the perspective it could be seen as a good thing or bad. The fact that the lines become blurred for Justine is ironic because it reflects how justice itself can be skewed because of violence. While the people fighting for what they want, is a “good thing” the violence that resulted from it is probably not. Godwin himself did not advocate for violence, but a more peaceful revolution, where reason is used. In this story, all reason is lost. There is a creature on the loose, tormenting Victor and killing his family off, this is the result when reason is lost in revolution and the pursuit of happiness. Upon seeing the innocent dealing with injustice, Victor “I, the true murderer, felt the never dying worm alive in my bosom, which allowed of no hope or consolation” (84). Due to the violence stemmed from the creature, Victor is left with sadness. Thus, his creation and abandonment of the creature creates a chain reaction, leading to the creature to resort to violence to get what he wants, a companion. The creature clearly resembles the people, and Victor the monarchy. The novel teaches how justice can be destroyed when resorting to violence, when a more peaceful and reasonable approach would have prevented the pain and suffering. Essentially, Godwins point is echoed through Justine’s death, providing evidence for nonviolent protest as a means to achieve happiness.

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The Creature’s Path to Peace

On reading the last two paragraphs of Frankenstein, I was struck by the number of different views on the path to happiness, peace and tranquility that were explored in this novel. The Creature’s thoughts on this changed drastically over the course of the novel, and they seemed to culminate in these ending passages. It is this theme that serves to resolve the curious paradoxes, tensions and ambiguity in these passages and provides the organic unity necessary for the new critical method.

The Creature initially believes that he can achieve bliss by finding somebody who will accept him regardless of his appearance. When this fails, he turns to revenge as a means of alleviating some of his rage and loneliness. However, in the end his experiences make him seek only death as his way to bliss, as his misery and isolation are too excruciating to live with. This is observed in the paradox of “sad and solemn enthusiasm” and the tension in “exult in the agony”, and it seems strange that he looks forward to his painful death, but not if you see that he does so because it is his path to contentment.

The motif of fire is very predominant here with words like “burning”, “flames” and “conflagration”. I think this is because fire is associated with peace. The passage brings us back in a circle to the beginning of the monster’s life, when the fire he finds in the wood is his most precious possession and he “was in the greatest fear lest my fire should be extinguished”. The fire gave him life and contentment, by providing warmth, comfort, and cooked food, while now he implores it to give him death, and so peace and rest.

These paragraphs seem to suggest that the Creature believes that, after his death, everything that he experienced and and everything that he was, will be as if it never existed. This is seen in the usage of words and phrases such as “extinct”, “fade away”, “lost” and “my ashes will be swept into the sea by the winds”. He desires this oblivion and believes that it will allow “his spirit to sleep in peace”. However he does not really achieve this as the Creature and the tale of his life have been immortalized in Robert Walton’s records, which is ironically how we are learning of it. We see that Shelley purposely leaves the ending vague saying that he was “lost in the darkness and distance”, making it ambiguous as to whether the Creature actually died and if, whatever the answer to the previous question, he truly obtained his peace. The lack of this certain conclusion in the ending forces us to question death’s role as the only final path to peace and bliss.