Tag Archive: suffering


Samantha Shapiro

Within Frankenstein, a large focus within the novel revolves around Victor, which cannot be avoided due to the nature of Victor being a primary speaker and self-centered perspective.

We see this through the approach of Justine’s seemingly unfair trial and later execution, in which she doesn’t receive any justice from a justice system. As the focus with Justine’s death is how it relates to Victor, the reader sees how Victor’s inner processes centralize his guilt, creating a situation that he can’t get out of. Victor victimizes himself through Justine’s situation, and we see this through the overall focus of the text. Due to this nature of the excerpt, as well as the nature and connection to William Godwin’s Enquiry Concerning Political Justice, much of the passage appears to respond to core ideals found within Godwin’s work, especially in relation to suffering and the pursuit of humanity.

A primary focus to Godwin is that we have two major duties in order to perpetuate justice for humanity’s happiness: to focus attention to reason and communicate, or bring to light a way to “do justice to our principles,” and to do so peacefully (ECPJ 789-790). Justine, in giving a false confession to murder, did to to “obtain absolution,” but instead entered the courtroom knowing to have lied, but also now in the presence of a system, where “all looked on [her] as a wretch doomed to ignominy and perdition” (F 83). Her suffering in falsely communicating her reason correlates with Godwin’s view of a “tendency towards the equalization of conditions” through the eyes of Victor (ECPJ 791). Victor takes it upon himself and identifies with Justine’s feelings of “ignominy and perdition,” or even feelings of being dishonored due to his pursuits of science. Godwin notes that the followers in the pursuit of knowledge submitted to “servile dedications” and could only escape from this slavery with the “gradual revolution of opinion,” knowing that independence and ease are in reach, but he fails to look onward to other emotions, such as guilt and negative views of being brought to light (ECPJ 792, 793). Frankenstein is a “obsequious” and “servile” follower in character, to both science and his loved ones, and would “spend each vital drop of blood for [their sakes],…spend his life in serv[itude]” (ECPJ 792, F 85). However, the guilt of his pursuit of science and a fear of rejection leads to his guilt in creating, what he sees, as a violent monster. He loses a part of himself, and gains hopelessness when he feels like he isn’t even belonging to other humans, but a creator of a demon-like murderer. Victor sees himself as lost due to having a “never-dying worm alive in [his] bosom, which allowed of no hope or consolation,” or guilt—while Justine can have resignation from suffering in death, his suffering of guilt, a metaphorical “never-dying worm” ate at him constantly due to his regrets in his pursuits (84).

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By: Sandra Tzoc

Mary Shelley’s novel was published around the same time as the birth of the Industrial Revolution, meaning around the time machines started replacing humans. This is important because nowhere in the novel was this portrayed similarly to how the French Revolution was neglected. Throughout the novel there was plenty of mountainous imagery but none of machinery that would have been present at the time. Moreover, in his work “The Workshop of Filthy Creation”: A Marxist Reading of Frankenstein, Warren Montag claims Victor as the “Bourgeoisie” and the creature as the “Proletariat”. The “producer” of the monster is the Proletariat because he unleashed something onto the world but somehow moved on with his life, whilst the creature was left to fend for himself, just like those who were thrown out due to the rise of machinery. Some might think that Shelley did not speak about the changes she was living herself but what if she did. What if she simply talked about these entities of marginalization, prejudice, and overall revolution but indirectly. Perhaps she used Frankenstein to stand for these vast issues present during her time and our own now. Warren describes the creature as “not so much the sign of the proletariat as of its unrepresentability” (480), because the creature doesn’t have to fall under one label. In addition, at the end of the French Revolution perhaps the creature could represent the public themselves. Where they now felt lost and alone just like the creature did when Victor denied him a companion. The industrial revolution ultimately was born to speed up the process of making merchandise and in many circumstances took the jobs from people. The people without jobs suffered and had to search for new ways to make a living and this is important because its analogous to the creature’s experience. Perhaps Warren was hinting at the complexity of the creatures symbolic meaning and how it could not possibly end at proletariat.

Doomed By Slavery

victor frankenstein laboratory

 

My dear Sister,                                                                                            August 22nd, 17 —.

You will remember from my last correspondence the account of my admirable guest Victor Frankenstein, how during his studies in Ingolstadt he had by some miracle discovered the secret to bestowing life. Good God! The prospect alone animated the greatest excitement in my soul! I begged he continue, and after a night’s rest he obliged, his words which I will relate to you:

“It was with great delight that I began my labours. A temporary shunning of my fellow-creatures, my classmates, even my dear family, but was a small price to pay for the great knowledge and glory — oh! the glory! — that was well within my grasp. My silence, however, did not go unnoticed. My worried father sent me numerous letters inquiring about my studies, but to these I remained mute, resolving to reward him with words of triumph upon the accomplishment of my toils. Continue reading