Tag Archive: societal violence


“Ever since I was condemned my confessor has besieged me; threatened and menaced, until I began to think that I was the monster he said I was….all I looked on me as a wretched doomed ignominy and perdition.” (Frankenstein Page 84).

In Frankenstein Justice dies in an unjust and predetermined death by her enemies. The passage above expresses some of the last words that Justine spoke. Revolution to the opposing class will always be seen with resistance and opposition. Justine died in the eyes of her enemies, that looked past her own pain and troubles. Her enemies who had very little evidence and even pre-destined her conviction. Thus, Justine’s character is the lower/poor working class that despite their attempts to overcome injustices such as low wages, labor alienation, child labor, etc mankind’s humanity was gone. Thus, Justine’s death can be seen as the death of justice for the working class/poor even in their suffering.

However, we also have others such as William Godwin who critiques the way in which the French Revolution deviated towards fear and violence. There is truth in William Godwin’s reflection which has pointed the masses to, “anxiously refrain from violence: force is not a conviction… let us reflect on the gradual consequences of this revolution in my opinion” (789-93). The French Revolution started off with violence from the start the masses revenge and pent-up frustrations led to the Reign of Terror. Violence gives in to more violence. The revolution was no longer about human rights instead it became a fight with their own people. Thus, in retrospect to the novel the Creature who was met with opposition and frustration decided toward revenge and violence. In doing so, Justine/justice dies in the process of his revenge. The fight was no longer about justice as the fire of revenge consumed the working class.

  • Karla Garcia Barrera

 

 

Advertisements

Through critical psychoanalytic and post-colonial critical techniques, the highly violent nature of the creature in Frankenstein may be explicated. This movement may be accomplished first through an analysis of the characters in Lacanian terms. Like any other human individual, the creature undergoes interaction with an evolutionary set of psychological realms, initiated by the infantile mirror stage. This developmental state is characterized by an idealized recognition of bodily coherence and fullness, described singularly as the “imaginary.”

However, there is something subtly abnormal and perverted about this process within the narrative, resulting in highly unusual implications. In his intellectual infancy, the creature attaches his sense of self-definition not to his own body, but to the collective whole of the De Lacey family. His ego or “I,” finds a strange substitute in the contextual relations of the group, rather than his personal sense of bodily coherence. This state is able to maintain itself as long as the creature can inhabit a position of outside observation, free of linguistic structure or interaction with the De Laceys.

The necessary and inevitable rise of the symbolic state eventually comes to overturn the peace of the imaginary. The creature realizes his own faculty for linguistic representation and abstract symbolism, introducing the concept of intellectual lack through the inability of language to completely invoke a form, and subsequently forcing the full sense of ego to retreat into the form of “ideal-I.” Only after this process has been completed, does the creature perceive his true form in a pool of water. By seeing himself after he has moved into the symbolic state, his ideal-I has been completely broken or fractured. He comes to a realization that his ego is deeply fissured, and that it is totally inconsistent with his true nature. The fundamental human drive towards the coherence of the ideal-I is stolen from him, and he is left only with inner contention and conflict.

However, there is some hope for the creature. It may be possible for him to repair his imaginary self-definition by gaining acceptance with the De Laceys, as his idealized sense of self was based upon their family as a collective whole. Accordingly, he adopts a role parallel to the feminine subaltern place of Safie within the household. In this debased role, he receives the second half of his lesson in linguistics. The creature is fed and accepts the nuanced language of colonial discourse, adopting the sense of ideological subjugation. However, there is a flaw here as well. Instead of maintaining the superficial wholeness expressed by Safie, the creature is a maelstrom of discord. His loss of ideal-I has rendered him unable to mask the conflicting elements of the colonial discourse. Accordingly, his attempt at integration fails, and his ideal-I completely vanishes.

Here, the literary critic may perceive that the two linguistic educations, and the two failures, expose the true nature of the colonial symptom. The De Lacey family served as a microcosm for western European dominance and colonization. Through his first failure at drawing an ideal-I from the cumulative whole, the creature destroys the concept that colonial society is full, whole, natural, and free of conflict. Through his second failure in his inability to adopt the subaltern role, the creature shows that each socially striated placement is wrought with ideological tumult, and that this societal system is not legitimate. The creature is the physical manifestation of the latent violence hidden behind the colonial façade, the corporeal avatar of a fissured reality. He is now marked with discord, and will not stop in his quest to subvert the stability of colonial discourse, revealing a form of violence present everywhere.