Tag Archive: society


“How Can I Move Thee?”

Self identification is a matter in which I have very little authority in. To define oneself as surely based on their emotion is something that eludes me, but which I work harder at everyday in order to understand the Individual. The ways in which Jessica Rae Fisher and Susan Stryker struggle in becoming who they are destined to be demonstrate to me that, despite the animosity thrown their ways from the very communities that should have stood at their sides in camaraderie, inspires within the soul a sense of distress. It must be understood that the use of pronouns and the celebration of using negative terms in resistance plays an important part within the narrative that Fisher tries to make in her blog post “I am Frankenstein’s Monster: An Echo of Susan Stryker’s Call to Action.”

As both Fisher and Stryker find a sense of similarity with Victor Frankenstein’s Creature, it is important to note the use of pronoun that the Creature uses to identify as. Within the novel, there are many instances where the Creature and his creator uses the masculine pronouns he and him to describe the being. There is never an explicit passage within the confines of the novel that say, “And Victor thus created a man in his own imagination” (Despite when Victor describes the features of the Creature on pages 59-60(“His limbs were in proportion […] His yellow skin […] his hair […] his teeth)); it is through the learning that the creature endures soon after his production that he starts to define himself as a man. As Victor chose and picked many of the bones from the charnel-house and gathered many other materials from the dissecting tables and the slaughter-house, there is almost no doubt that the creature could be an amalgamation of many different fleshes from man and woman. When the creature experiences the natural world, he makes discoveries of ecology and society and literature. It is through his understandings that he identifies as man, declaring on page 93 “I ought to be thy Adam” and demanding on page 129 “a creature of another sex” which Victor believes will bear children of a new monstrous race in Africa. The Creature himself shows that he believes to be of a masculine nature, and thus adopts the pronouns that he both has had assigned to him as well as using them to describe himself.

In the case with Fisher using rage to kill with kindness, it is absolutely promoted  that she continue upon the path of most resistance, as she mirrors the plight of the Creature: “If any being felt the emotions of benevolence towards me, I should return them an hundred and an hundred fold; for that one creature’s sake, I would make peace with the whole kind” (page 129)! As both of them are on the journey to become accepted for who they truly are and to finally come into acceptance with those that can share their experience, then they must continue to pursue that dream of the day in which they can finally live in peace with the rest of mankind and not be seen as a Monstrous Creature but as a Living Being.

-Alejandro Joseph Serrano

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Sabrina Vazquez

Society fears what they do not yet understand. It is a saying most have heard, but the weight of the words does not settle until facing a concept that truly is not understood by many in the world. In Jessica Rae Fisher’s blog post “: An echo of Susan Stryker’s call to action”, in response to Susan Stryker’s essay “My Words to Victor Frankenstein above the Village of Chamounix: Performing Transgender Rage:”, she speaks about the rage that comes with not only not being accepted in society but outcasted from it as well. Now in stating that many people do not understand transgender people, does not by any means justify their hate and malevolence. Fisher stated, “Filisa shouldn’t have faced the loneliness that rejection no doubt brought. She shouldn’t have been driven to suicide by a community that thought that she could take care of herself.” (I am Frankenstein’s Monster). It is clear that beyond the rage is a deep sadness that a life was lost because of Filisa was not understood or accepted. This rage felt from being so misunderstood is one that can be the root of a lot of greatness, but it can also be the foundation of violence. Through Frankenstein it can be seen how a healthy rage can turn into an unhealthy vengeance and shift one’s own world.

Frankenstein’s creation is affected by loneliness, rejection, resentment, and confusion on what itself is, not only was it trying to find a place in society, but also come to terms with itself. In the first stages of the creature’s life, that inner rage fueled his need to learn and be like the others he observed. It was an outcast but one that had taught itself so much, but that went awry when after fighting so hard to be “normal”, it was still not accepted. After cursing its creation for not being understood, the creature began feeling a more violent deep-seated all-consuming hate. This is the moment the creature had had enough,

I continued for the remainder of the day in my hovel in a state of utter and stupid despair. My protectors had departed and had broken the only link that held me to the world. For the first time the feelings of revenge and hatred filled my bosom, and I did not strive to control them, but allowing myself to be borne away by the stream, I bent my mind towards injury and death. (F.123) (Block Quote)

This differentiation between the different rages is not one I made to state that unbending people do not deserve to be treated as they treat others. It was made because, in giving in to the same hate they put out into the universe, it fulfills their already hateful misconceptions. Fisher did state “It isn’t our responsibility to make the villagers understand or accept us, and maybe, in fact, we can’t.” (I Am Frankenstein’s Monster). It is not, but one should also never give them the pleasure of changing our perceptions of the world into negative ones. Frankenstein’s creation in his confusion and quest for understanding what he was, fell into a dark hole of hate created by those very villagers. He embraced the word “monster” in a negative way and fulfilled all those notions the villagers imposed on him, which I believe were just projections of their own insecurities. In conclusion no matter how much like the villagers the creature acted, they would have never accepted it.  However, instead of embracing the reality it was living, the creature let itself be tainted by other beliefs. Transgender rage can be very good, just never to the point where it changes personal beliefs, of who one is within; it most definitely is best kept away from one’s perceptions of the world. When one person feels alone, secluded and in the dark, one must try to remember that the world does not consist of one small village.

Equality

Reading deeply into Mary Shelley’s novel “Frankenstein”, many controversial topics continue to arise. She makes it pretty apparent in her novel the corruption that many people face for not being what society expects or categorizes as normal. An ideal world would be one were everyone is accepted for who they are, and not have the fear of being judged, which is where Stryker’s essay has an impact. Stryker wants to embrace the title of being a monster that people have labeled her and others for being different. Jessica Rae Fisher’s blog post “I am Frankenstein’s Monster: An echo of Susan Stryker’s call to action” is interesting because she recognizes the relationship between transgender people and Frankenstein.

Her post connects very well with the story because a continuous question that we had about this novel in class is what the gender of the monster is. It was never fully established if the monster was male or female. From the beginning Frankensteins creation was given the label of being a monster and other degrading names that Stryker wants to embrace, and take away the negative meaning that comes with it. The monster’s physical appearance was different from what society was used to. The creature was not oblivious from the judgment that he was receiving, his creator along with the members of society are what influenced his life that consisted of pure revenge and rage. “I had never seen yet a being resemble me, or who claimed any intercourse with me. What was I.” (Shelley 110). The creature was struggling with the fact that he didn’t know his own identity. Victors own identity struggles was passed along to the monster. Victor struggled a lot with his own identity, which is another factor that drove him to create the unidentified creature. Victor struggled with the fact that he could not physically give birth to a life, an ability that only women hold the power to. Was the creation of the monster Victor’s proof that he as a male can do things that only women can do? Gender identity is a continuous question that remains within the novel.

-Dariana Lara

By Isaac Gallegos R.

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Anne K. Mellor’s essay, “A Feminist Critique of Science”, aims to explore the sexual politics of science during the 19th-century, and how it manifests itself within Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. Mellor’s essay largely depends on the analysis of the gendered imagery and metaphors found within the scientific and literary texts of that time (Humphry Davy’s Discourse, Erasmus Darwin’s Phytologia, and Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein). This feminist lens, when applied to Frankenstein, creates an interesting understanding of our interpersonal/social relations with science and nature. Furthermore, Mellor’s essay can further demonstrate the consequences of having misogynistic sexual politics,  especially when applied to the character Victor Frankenstein and his hamartia of dominating nature.

Before we apply Mellor’s feminist critique onto Frankenstein, it’s essential for us to understand the meaning of ‘sexual politics’ and how they played an influential role in 19th-century scientific ideologies. Sexual politics are the principles determining the relationship of the sexes; relations between the sexes regarded in terms of power. The sexual politics of the 19th-century dictated that men were vastly superior to women; this notion was then expressed in all parts of society: through the legislature, the etiquette, and even the scientific ideologies. The latter was one of the more surprising consequences of 19th-century sexual politics; this was attributed to the fact that nature is considered feminine (e.g., Mother Nature). And because of the perceived femininity of nature, male scientists contested for the dominance of nature; Francis Bacon even announced, “I am come in very truth leading to you Nature with all her children to bind her to your service and maker her your slave”, exemplifying how 19th-century sexual politics so greatly influenced science: scientists actively imagined to being the dominant, determined male and therefore perceived nature to being the dominanted damsel.

However, throughout her analysis, Mellor emphasized that her critique wasn’t towards all science — just ‘bad’ science. The 19th-century saw the rise of two scientific ideologies: ‘good’ science and ‘bad’ science. Good science was the hyperaware act to only observe nature and it’s mechanics, and to have an appreciation of such mechanics. Erasmus Darwin was the greatest advocate for this methodology that didn’t attempt to radically “change either the way nature works or the institutions of society”(Mellor 4). Sexual politics had affected their approach to science by viewing nature as a respectable (however feminine) entity; one could argue ‘good’ scientist’s had a perception of nature that was more akin to ‘mother nature’  and therefore saw nature as a complex and established matriarch. On the other hand, ‘bad’ science was the scientific ideology that the elemental forces of nature were to serve the private needs of men and that this power dynamic would be established through the manipulation and ‘abuse’ of nature’s mechanics.  Humphry David promoted this power-obsessed ideology, writing “to interrogate nature with power, not simply as a scholar, passive and seeking to understand her operations, but rather as a master, active with his own instruments”.(Davy 16). Mellor’s distinction of  these 19th-century  scientific ideologies (‘good’ science and ‘bad’ science) is beneficial because it demonstrates that Mellor’s critique doesn’t overgeneralize all the sciences; she condemns ‘bad’ science for it’s misogynistic and unsustainable approach to science while commending ‘good’ science for it’s holistic and sustainable approach to science. Knowing these distinctions can help us identify where Victor Frankenstein falls on the spectrum of bad-good science, and doing so can give us further insight into his actions:

 Life and death appeared to me ideal bounds, which I should first break through, and pour a tor- rent of light into our dark world. A new species would bless me as its creator and source; many happy and excellent natures would owe their being to me. (Shelley 57)

Victor Frankenstein saw nature as a tool for his own personal advancements; unlike Erasmus Darwin, Victor Frankenstein actively pursued to challenge nature and it’s mechanics.  This interjection was a grave mistake, because not only does Frankenstein challenge nature’s authority, he also challenges its methods. Mellor notes “Rather than letting organic life-forms evolve slowly […] Victor wants to originate a new life-form quickly.”(Mellor 6).  And through Mellor’s feminist lens, we understand that Victor was influenced by the 19th-century sexual politics, and it manifested in his participation in ‘bad’ science. His actions, like denying nature it’s authority and denying the creature maternal influences, show how greatly ‘bad’ science and sexual politics had influenced him: Victor Frankenstein tried, in vain, to omit the vitalness of the feminine figure in life, by rejecting Mother nature her powers and rejecting the power motherhood has on all of us.

 

 

By Maya Carranza

Just like most women, Mary Wollstonecraft, believed that all women should be treated equally. So how is it that her daughter, Mary Shelley, wrote a book that totally lacks a strong female role? In the novel Frankenstein, although men are the main characters, the novel is full of mistakes that they made, which can be seen as a true feminist point illustrating that all women are the main foundation of society and that they aren’t just clueless minds behind a pretty face and body.

Justine goes from being very “gentle” and “pretty” to a monster when she is falsely accused and executed for the murder of Frankenstein’s brother, William. She states, “I did confess, but I confessed a lie… Ever since I was condemned, my confessor has besieged me; he threatened and menaced, until I almost began to think that I was the monster that he said I was.” (83) Although Victor could have saved her, she confessed to a crime she did not commit because she was pressured into it but still accepted her fate. This also comes to show that Justines words meant nothing because society sees women as “little, smooth, delicate, fair creatures”(47), as said by Mary Wollstonecraft, who aren’t capable of having their own thoughts.

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by Isaac Gallegos Rodriguez

In our world, there are observable and established institutions that should never be challenged; if our social institutions are challenged or rejected, only chaos will ensue. This idea was observed by Edmund Burke, in his criticism of the French revolution (Reflections on the Revolution in France). Burke recognized the purpose of France’s monarchy and refuted the senseless and ‘savage’ revolution that had rejected it. Applying Edmund Burke’s perspective (as a critical lens) onto Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, more specifically the character Justine’s death (pg. 65-67, 83-85), we can infer that Justine’s unjust death was a consequence of Victor Frankenstein challenging the oldest institution of human existence — life and death itself.

To establish this interpretation, it’s important to take a closer look at the character Justine Moritz, and what she can represent in Frankenstein. Justine, a servant of the Frankenstein family, can be observed as the pinnacle of feminine sensibility. Justine is described as “the most grateful little creature in the world”(Shelley 66) as well being “gentle, and extremely pretty”(Shelley 67). Justine’s only acknowledged attributes are always connected to her innocence, beauty, and demeanor and nothing else. And because of Justine’s character, the validity for beauty and femininity is extended. Her charisma is of benefit to the Frankenstein family, Elizabeth even acknowledges that “if you were in an ill-humor, one glance from Justine could dissipate it”(Shelley 65). Burke himself strongly believed in the importance of beauty and femininity in society. In Reflections on the Revolutions in France Burke stresses on Marie Antoinette and her feminine mannerism, writing “with a serene patience, in a manner suited to her rank and race”(Burke 75). The established ideals of femininity have purposes, as do all other established institutions: Justine’s character was an individual who recognized and embraced these ideals, she saw her purpose as a woman in 19th century Western society and for that, she was respected. On the other hand, Victor Frankenstein was ignorant for not respecting these institutions, and because of that, he caused chaos in his personal life. Victor attempted to challenge the greatest reality of life: human mortality. Naturally, when we thing about our mortality, we accept them. Unfortunately, Victor viewed life and death as ‘ideal bounds’ and because of his ignorance, he created the creature, that filled his life with the very thing he tried rejecting — death. When applying Edmund Burke’s criticism to the death of Justine, it would have reinforced his theory on the necessity of social institutions: these social institutions are valid manifestations, and to reject them will only subject us to some unfortunate ‘unhallowed arts’.

Mary Wollstonecraft’s text highlights her intolerance for the church as well as the classifications of class and rank in society. In regards to women and their treatment, she is dissatisfied because they are valued more through the idea of beauty than through their intelligence or morals.  Her views are intertwined and seen in her daughter’s novel Frankenstein, specifically through the character Justine and her unjust death. In order to understand Justine’s situation we must remember that Victor’s creature is the one who framed her for his crime. This supports Wollstonecraft’s view that men can’t be trusted and only care about themselves since they are “men who have no titles to sacrifice,” (49) The creature loathed Justine because she was beautiful and normal, which overshadowed the fact that she was of low status. Where was chivalry when Justine could have been saved by Victor’s confession or when the creature was planning to escape the consequences if his own crime? It was nowhere because the men valued themselves more than an innocent woman. frankenstein08.jpg (560×777)

Justine reveals that she is threatened with “excommunication and hell fire in her last moments.” (83) by her confessor. Here we can see how Justine is being deeply influenced by the church, so much that she fears what will come after death more than being charged for a crime or the act of death itself. She has been made to believe her life is meaningless if she does not conform to the ways of the church, when in reality the church is nothing but a group of over religious men who do as they please. Being aware of her innocence is not enough to keep her safe. However, it’s easy to see that if she were a man, Victor for example, her guilt would have been immediately questioned if charged with murder. In contract to Justine, Victor was an intelligent, educated man…to most. As a woman with no outstanding education or valued status, it was easy to place the crime on Justine. In relation to Wollstonecraft’s views, now that Justine’s beauty was tainted she was of no use to the church or society, even though her good reputation from Elizabeth and little education should have been enough to save her from injustice in a fair society.

By Galilea Sanchez

The New Perspective

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

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While reading Warren Montags “The ‘Workshop of Filthy Creation”: A Marxist Reading of Frankenstein, I struggled to understand where the issue was. I have come to the conclusion that there is not an issue, but issues are created. Social hierarchy has always been a constructed problem, and Montag continues to build with this essay. Montag finally says the creature is “not so much the sign of the proletariat as of its unrepresentability” (480). I feel like there are many ways to go about interpreting this, but ultimately I agree with him.

What Montag actually does is what we are supposed to do: a close reading of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. He focuses on what is missing from the next, which for him is the fact that this whole story takes place during the French Revolution. At first I was speculative of this claim; I wanted to believe Frankenstein was happening in a slightly futuristic dystopian world created in Mary Shelley’s mind. However when he presented his evidence it seemed to make perfect sense to me. Never again does this happen.

Throughout the novel, the creature struggles greatly with himself and society, trying to fit in but ultimately being underrepresented and misunderstood. He is of a lower class, truly one of a kind, and can not associate his feelings with anyone else. He literally says, “I look around, and I have no relation or friend upon earth. These amiable people to whom I go have never seen me, and know little of me. I am full of fears; for if I fail there, I am an outcast in the world forever” (119). However Victor is quite similar. Victor has a passion for science and discovery that not many others have, and he is quite misunderstood himself. He is an overly emotional disturbed man who feels like no one else can understand him. The one difference is his social standing. He comes from a large wealthy family who wish the best for him and live a pleasant, comfortable life. So then Victor Frankenstein is a bourgeois, as Montag says.

What really confuses this idea of proletariat versus bourgeois is who has the power. The creature is obviously physically stronger than Victor, but Victor is the one who created the being. He calls the creature a slave. There is a push and pull, a back and forth tugging at power in the novel that ultimately goes unresolved. The creature has the power to take away the lives of those who Frankenstein cares for. It is almost like a trade. Victor cursed the creature with poverty and loneliness by giving him life, and the creature is now going to do the same by taking away the most valuable parts of Frankenstein’s life. There is this extreme paradox that either character could be the one who controls the other. So while the creature does fit into the proletariat mold, he also fits into one of power, strength, and understanding, leaving him ultimately unrepresented.

Written by Mahea LaRosa

A Rise of Action From Nothing

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Christopher Martinez

In “The ‘Workshop of Filthy Creation’: A Marxist Reading of Frankenstein,” Warden Montag argues that the creature is “not so much the sign of the proletariat as of its unrepresentability.” With all respect to Warden, I would disagree with his statement because Frankenstein does represent the proletariat as a whole. Montag states that “if the modern (proletariat) were allowed to appear, the monster would no longer be a monster, no longer be alone, but part of a ‘Race of Devils” (480). His statement might be true, but the monster serves as the journey and voice of every proletariat as a whole.

I decided to focus on Chapter 20 (pg 145-146). During this part of the book, the monster confronts Victor about his new mate. Victor destroys all the work he has done just to punish the monster. The monsters madness can be shown through the quote, “Slave, I have reasoned with you, but you have proved yourself unworthy of my condescension. Remember that you I have power, you believe yourself miserable, but I can make you so wretched that the light of day will be hateful to you. You are my creator, but I am your master – obey!” (146) Symbolism and tension can also be depicted in this quote because the monster (proletariat) mentions that Victor (the bourgeoisie) is his slave likewise, lower classes in society can overthrow the rich through an action. This gives me a feeling of letting go of chains. Ambiguity is also shown considering we have to decide what the action to change is. The reason I am saying this is because as a proletariat myself reading this book can give me different ideas towards action against aristocratic ideals. Thus, being annoyed and angry at being exploited lead up to the moment where the proletariat stands up for themselves. To add on, Mary Shelley uses a voice that makes me interpret that she threatening the bourgeoisie. Words like ‘I’ are used a lot in this section of the book. Such as in the quote, “I will watch with the wiliness of a snake, that I may sting with its venom. Man, you shall repent of the injuries you inflict” (146). I get that horrific mood when reading this. In other words, I interpret that Mary Shelley is threatening the rich just like the monster is doing against Victor.

Throughout the whole section, there is a motif of rage. Victor made the monster reach up to his tipping point. As a consequence, Victor has to face an inevitable horror at some point. I don’t feel as if anything is missing because clearly the monster represents every single proletariat – unlike what Montag thinks. To make this more clear, throughout the book we see the growth of the monster (such as through education). Once the monster has the knowledge of the mind to act between right and wrong, we see the confrontation. Similarly, as I mentioned before, this can all relate to any low-income student because through knowledge and anticipation we can act upon our own people: the proletariat.