Tag Archive: sentiment


Sabrina Vazquez

William Godwin in the excerpt from his book Enquiry Concerning Political Justice, writes about the common and basic axiom of embracing the good and bad in life. He states, “The cause of justice is the cause of humanity. Its advocates should be penetrated with universal good will.” (789). Justine through her trial and conviction seems to embrace her decision. Even after tried guilty states that she is prepared and has accepted that she will leave the “sad and bitter world”, because she has submitted to the will of heaven (Shelley, 83). She is innocent of a highly serious crime and sentenced to death, yet she does not let that taint her convictions. Even though her death is not just, she remains true to herself and her true sentiments. This very much compliments Godwin’s thoughts of who we should remain when tested in face of fairness.

lady-justice

After losing his brother William in a cold blooded murder caused from his creation, Frankenstein soon finds himself in danger of losing yet another loved one when Justine becomes convicted of the aforementioned killing. Despite knowing her innocence, Justine confesses to the crime in hopes that she “might obtain absolution”(Shelly 83). Because of this, the judges “failed to move…from their settled conviction in the criminality of the saintly sufferer,” and Justine was executed. According to William Goodwin, Justine’s actions are a complete obtrusion of justice because they violate the plain duty of upholding “the great instrument of justice, reason” (Godwin 790).

Throughout his article “Enquiry Concerning Political Justice,” Godwin makes it clear that when it comes to justice, above all “we should sharpen our intellectual weapons; add to the stock of our knowledge; be pervaded with a sense of magnitude of our cause; and perpetually add to that calm presence of mind and self-possession”(790).  Justice should be primarily served with reason and truth. However, instead of communicating her sentiments with the utmost frankness as Godwin suggests, Justine gives into the illogical idea of salvation, due in no small part to her confessor who “threatened and menaced, until [she] almost began to think that [she] was the monster he said [she] was” (Godwin 790; Shelly 83). Seemingly everyone is against Justine and like her confessor, they continue to guilt and harass her without any logical proof or reason of their own until she becomes convinced that the only way out of the situation is to accept her lie as the truth. Unfortunately because of this, injustice was wrongfully served in the place of justice.

–Jose Ramirez

William Godwin expresses his advocation for peaceful, nonviolent revolution through reason and honest communication of sentiment, in order to obtain justice, as explained in his Enquiry Concerning Political Justice, “Let us anxiously refrain from violence” (789), and “communicate our sentiments with the utmost frankness” (790). In addition, he encourages to “press them upon the attention of others” and “sharpen our intellectual weapons” (790) which will work to end injustice.

Godwin’s ideologies fail to be seen through Justine as she claims, “I did confess; but I confessed a lie that I might obtain absolution” (83), because she had admitted to the false accusation and did not communicate with the utmost frankness, which then contributed to the eventual death of Justine/justice. Ultimately, it is Victor Frankenstein’s dishonesty and failure to communicate his true sentiments of anguish and guilt that lead to the death of Justine/justice. This is seen when he confesses, “I beheld those I loved spend vain sorrow upon the graves of William and Justine, the first hapless victims to my unhallowed arts” (85). Victor’s lack of truthful communication and complete failure to bring attention of his sentiments to others therefore lead to further injustices, including the deaths of all his loved ones. However, we see Godwin’s faith in reason and sentiment through Elizabeth, who explains that she will obtain justice for Justine, saying, “I will proclaim, I will prove your innocence” (83) with the knowledge that Justine truly was innocent regardless of the evidence that proved her to be guilty. In Godwin’s eyes, Elizabeth is his only hope to restore and save Justine/justice. Unfortunately, any of these efforts fail because of the pervasive absence of nonviolent revolution through frank reason and sentiment. We can further draw parallels from the French Revolution and Justine’s death because of humanity’s failure to communicate and refrain from violence, which then brings an even more constant stream of injustice, deaths, and barbarity.

-Serena Ya

The full interpretation of the execution suffered by the character Justine is a complex order, but one that may be adroitly accomplished through a critical Marxist lens. Justine may be understood as a personification of vigorous and ancient social sentiments, which is a fact exposed through certain elements of her characterization. Her name bears specific resemblance to “justice,” and she is accordingly granted an idealized mixture of humility, patience, and great beauty. These qualities, however, do not protect her from condemnation and execution. She meets this fate in an unusual way, in that in the end of her life she possesses no fear and a sense of resignation, and indeed advises the characters to  “Learn from me… to submit in patience to the will of heaven” (84). She does not act as a frightened servant would, instead responding like a goddess, saint, or philosopher, entities that would react with logical and graceful finality. This serves to further emphasize Justine’s role as more than human, but rather a symbol for the romanticized concept of “justice.”

Within the context of the narrative and Marxist analysis methods, the execution can be further explicated. The central concept within this textual event is the bourgeoisie manipulation of traditional ideological entities. In The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte, Marx himself notes, “unheroic as bourgeoisie society is, yet it had need of heroism, of sacrifice, of terror, of civil war and of national battles to bring it into being” (42). However, “when the real aim had been achieved, when the bourgeois transformation … had been accomplished, Locke supplanted Habakkuk” (42), meaning that the bourgeoisie enlightenment ideals were erected over the ancient ideologies of the past. The narrative mirrors this process. The concept of “justice” is ancient, and a battle cry for social dynamism and reform. It is loved and respected as a force that pried open the feudal social structure and broke the monarchy and lords. However, the manifestation of this important sentiment is not powerful within the text, but ultimately debased. She is bound and imprisoned by the bourgeoisie elite of the Frankenstein family, nurturing their young and appearing as a loved and valued part of the household. “Justice,” is part of the superficial façade of the elite, who use it to soften and mask the calamity that they engineer.  However, once the goals of the elite are achieved, the ideal falls away. Victor completes his ultimate work in the monstrous fabrication of the new proletariat, and the old idealism of concepts like “justice,” is unnecessary. Indeed, they cannot exist in the brave new capitalist world; whether the bourgeoisie intends it or not, their creation is inherently violent, and will murder ancient sentiment. In this way, Justine and “justice,” are slowly prepared and led for slaughter, used to further the goals of the bourgeoisie, before the societal conflict created by the elite erupts. With their mastery complete, the judicial bureaucrats throw their black ballots at the feet of justice, as it is no longer a necessary illusion.

The Marxist characterization of this event is accordingly a comic farce. Justice and Justine might recall a symbol of the French revolution: lady liberty. In true form, she exists as a goddess within the ranks of subjected masses, charging into the fray of battle lofting the symbol of the people as she leads them to victory, awe-inspiring and beautiful in fearless nakedness. In contrast, the narrative portrays her as the powerless servant to the elite, who task her with raising their children. Although appreciated by them, she does not appear in true form; her nakedness is covered and she inspires no awe, but rather sympathy. Her beauty remains in this diminished form, but her sublime aspect vanishes. She dies not in battle for the rights of humankind, but in a mechanistic decision. Her execution is a farce as she is a tool manipulated by unseen bourgeoisie hands, rather than a sentiment earnestly supported and fought over as she once was.