Tag Archive: perspective


The Clash of Disability Models

By Isaac Gallegos R.

“Victor and Elizabeth view their creation in different ways. In a way, they serve as stand-ins for how science tends to view people with disabilities. On the one hand, Elizabeth, people with disabilities are still able to feel and should be viewed with compassion. They should be cared for. On the other hand, Victor represents viewing people with disabilities as lesser, as failed by-products, that need to be taken care of.”

I chose the 2nd observation (quoted above) because I think the observation made, regarding the contrasting perspectives of the scientific community and their opinions on disability, can be built upon and investigated. When reading Parker’s chapter on Disability Studies, we learn that the two most prominent models are the “social disability model” and the “personal disability model”. And as the person observed, Victor Frankenstein aligns more with the personal disability model (therefore looking at a single individual and blaming their “alter-ability” for the challenges they face) and Elizabeth being a closer representation of the “social disability model” (and therefore seeing how society helps construct the obstacle rather than just the disability).

This observation can be built upon and observed throughout the whole movie and can be beneficial in Disability Studies, one can even say that the roles of Victor and Elizabeth can be a metaphor on the struggle between the different perspectives on disability (within our society and scientific communities). And with Elizabeth’s murder at the hands of Victor, it can further highlight the dominance of the “personal disability model”, and the prevalence of individuals with disabilities being blamed for the obstacles that they face in our society.  With this, it helps us understand that we need to integrate more inclusive infrastructure and be more open-minded when it comes to disability.

An Ecocritical View on Frankenstein

Although the dilemmas caused by climate change have begun to be more noticeable in recent years, the issue of climate change is not anything new. Because it is known that climate change is not just a current issue, when looking into Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein the reader can notice that there is plenty of evidence that furthers this argument and supports it. When utilizing an ecocritical lens to view Frankenstein we can realize that the novel may have hinted towards the fires and situations that are currently happening. One reason why this ecocritical lens is suggested to be used when viewing Frankenstein is because of Mary Shelley’s situation while composing her novel. During the time when Mary Shelley was writing Frankenstein, the weather in that current year was very cold which in fact went on to be recognized as the ‘Year Without a Summer’. Similar to Shelley’s case, we are currently living climate change situations, many have been going through multiple fire situations that affect several communities, resulting in the suggestion for this time period to be named something in the categories of “The Year of Fire.”

Samantha Shapiro

frankenstein

Even while having read the novel prior, I still see much of and thus associate Frankenstein’s creation as “Frankenstein,” a green, hulking, bolt-necked monster. Lately, around September, even as early as August, we begin to see the monster come out in time for one spooky October night, in the form of cheap costumes and lawn decorations.

As a standard of Halloween, the monster’s appearance as a green giant is shattered with a rereading of Shelley’s original novel, with a recounting from Victor Frankenstein noting the creature’s “yellow skin…[hair] a lustrous black…a more horrid contrast with his watery eyes, his shriveled complexion and straight black lips” (Shelley, 59-60). This, as we learn, egotistical scientist turned to taking dead body parts from the “unhallowed damps of the grave, …dissecting room and slaughter-house” (57-58). In reading Shelley’s Frankenstein, the standard “Frankenstein myth,” or, a horrifying monster coming to eat your children loses its superficial appearance when faced with descriptive lines including some horrifying actions. Rather than keep up the image, likely popularized by the classic horror adaptations’ perspectives, the novel instead tells a tale about a complex creation.

After reading the novel, there are many elements of a sort of horror, but a more psychological, deeper horror rather than have the focus of a scary child-murderer. The eeriness of Frankenstein’s creature lies in its almost human, but more so human-like being, as well as the connection it has towards death and life, or animation and decay.

Our common depictions now show it as a threat, a monster some poor villagers in the backwoods of Europe threw their pitchforks at, something universally feared.

frankenstein2

Although physically, it is presented as terrifying, the creature is terrifying to Frankenstein due to the implications of creation it brings, the guilt of creating something that shouldn’t exist (59). His conflict in creating something animated, perhaps even seen as alive, was a terrifying concept, bringing together life and death, and breaking an almost hallowed tie between the “corruption of death…to the blooming cheek of life” (55). The modern standing of Frankenstein’s monster, fitting into the myth of a horrible, scary monster is due to the appearance of it, but also our uneasiness towards it as a general dislike for something that shouldn’t be there.

Images:

http://deadoftheday.blogspot.com/2014/04/12th-annual-rondo-hatton-classic-horror.html

https://devania.com/

https://www.alexrossart.com

 

Blog Summary 2 – Perspective

One integral idea that comes across from my posts is the notion of perspective, and how said perspective informs or influences the audience. All the themes, motifs, and ideals expressed in Frankenstein are fed through a narrative lens or a particular perspective. This means that the audience is given a filtered image of reality tainted by a particular character’s ideology rather than reality itself. This is further complicated by Shelley’s choice of narrative. She could have easily framed the novel in a third-person omniscient, which would seamlessly encapsulate the perspectives of all the characters, but most importantly the perspectives of the creature and Frankenstein in a unbiased manner. Instead, she chooses an epistolary narrative, in which most of the story told to us in a shifting perspective, from letters written by Robert Walton, to quotes from Victor Frankenstein, and to, a lesser degree, the creature. So instead of one consistent, holistic perspective, the audience gets multiple, partisan perspectives. Not only does this fragmented view offered by the novel result in multiple layers of subtext, but it also helps us to better understand each character.

The discrete, individual perspectives are so important because they provide much of the context within the novel, or in some cases, lack of context. This is particularly exemplified by the by the perception of “lower” characters, such as the creature and Justine, by the “higher” ones such as Walton or Frankenstein. For the majority of the novel, the events are expressed from a privileged, elitist, perspective that does not provide context for the actions of the creature, and thus the audience is led to believe the creature to be a violent, grotesque, misanthrope. However, Shelley also ingeniously gives us the perspective of Frankenstein, which not only provides the aforementioned context, but allows the audience to compare and contrast perspectives. From the particular details that are emphasized or obfuscated, the audience can surmise the character’s biases and ideals, and ultimately better understand the characters themselves.

In a Marxist interpretation of Frankenstein, the monster is often akin too the lower class, pointing to its abused nature and its ability to overthrow its producer. Montag’s essay “The Workshop of Filthy Creation: A Marxist Reading of Frankenstein” claims that the text deliberately ignores the implications of the toiling lower class and the industrial revolution, rendering the creature a “representation of the unrepresentable”. However, Montag’s argument ignores how the first-person narration of Frankenstein is flawed and can be picked apart by both the reader and the observing character Walton, demonstrating a cynicism of Frankenstein’s viewpoint and, by extension, his ignorance of the industrial revolution and lower class in general.

Montag brings up the “Hear him not” (178) line to indicate that Shelley would rather deny the lower class of a voice or presence. Upon seeing the creature, Walton is at first impressed by the creature’s tender response to Frankenstein’s corpse, but he then remembers the man’s words; tellingly, Frankenstein is mentioned directly in his thought: “I called to mind what Frankenstein had said of his powers and eloquence and persuasion,” (187). Walter’s reaction to the creature is not something naturally developed, but an artificial parroting of Frankenstein’s hateful words. Instead of being gagged by the text, however, the monster interrupts the explorer and begins speaking, not stopping until finished. For all his bluster, Walton is unable to stop listening to, and the reader is unable to deny the opinion of the creature, because it holds just as much legitimacy as Frankenstein’s ever did.

The creature’s narration actually addresses the current reality of Shelley’s day. The creature criticizes Walton’s perspective by comparing his own qualities with Felix the “rustic”, or a person from rural areas (188). Such a term only makes sense if the creature thinks of himself as different from rustic, as urban. Montag claimed that the urban is unnaturally absent from the text, but the creature is able to see it because of his status as a symbol of the proletariat. He is also attuned to the matter of capital. There is no mention of monetary obligations in Victor’s side of the story, but in the monster’s narration, Felix’s companion tells Felix about how he will be required to pay three weeks rent or lose his garden (123). As an embodiment of the those who have to fear such things as debt, the creature understands that such details cannot be excised from life. The use of these more worldly observations demonstrates that Shelley is aware of them and willing to use them in her text. She gives them to the creature instead of Frankenstein because Victor’s perspective is deliberately askew, emphasizing the conflict between the two.

Walton’s narration also indicates a disparity. At the beginning of the novel, he wishes to “satisfy my ardent curiosity with the sight of a part of the world never before visited,” (28). He does not wish to remain in the dark about this class conflict at the center of the Marxist interpretation; rather, he wants to explore this relatively new conflict. This enthusiasm for new territories is combined with his desperate need for a friend or companion. Tellingly, he wants “a man who could sympathize with me,” (31). In other words, Walton wants a person who can tell him what he wants to hear rather than someone who can tell him something distinct. Frankenstein fills that gap with his incomplete narrative and Walter believes him when he encounters the creature, yet the explorer is still rendered silent by the monster’s honesty, demonstrating the superior perspective of Victor’s progeny. A reassuring lie like the one Montag suggests Shelley’s novel to be is let down before truth.

A Marxist interpretation must take into account a story’s context as Montag’s essay did, but in a novel with multiple narrative voices like Frankenstein, it can’t take the viewpoint of one character as the viewpoint of the author. His “unrepresentable” monster is only in Victor’s flawed mind; the monster, and the lower class it represents, is a real and significant factor that can’t be undermined.