Tag Archive: the creature


By: Leena Beddawi

America has been expanding its laws surrounding refugees and immigrants crossing its borders for decades, the most drastic set of expansions being created after the attack on September 11, 2001. Throughout these border security and law expansions, one thing that never changed is the law granting asylum for any refugee seeking protection from a country which defines a refugee as a “person who is unable or unwilling to return to his or her home country, and cannot obtain protection in that country, due to past persecution or a well-founded fear of being persecuted in the future ‘on account of race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion.’”.

Frankenstein’s creature insists on proving the “truth of my tale” in order to show that there are wildly different perspectives in this world and the means are just as valuable as the ends, how they became who they are, what they overcame to get here, is just as important as their very existence. I could only assume that in giving these letters to Victor, the creature hoped to change his mind about those who he considered being “other”.  One thing we see in many refugee or immigrant story is that they usually perfect models of W. E. B. Du Bois’ double-consciousness.

Double-consciousness is a concept in social philosophy which explains the presence of two apparently unconnected streams of consciousness in one individual, usually having to do with race, ethnicity, or originating country. This is something many refugees go through in order to search for a better life, they learn a whole new language, accustom to another culture, and try to peacefully integrate themselves in a space that is completely foreign to them because this is their only hope.

Safie is a Muslim Arab migrant from Turkey, but very much became a citizen of the world in accordance with Felix’s locations. Wherever he went, she wished to follow, and she made that place her home because they were together. I believe the creature’s pride in “learn[ing] from the views of a developed social life, to admire their virtues, and to deprecate the vices of mankind” helped him to empathize with the conquered native Americans and to see himself in the immigrant or refugee status because they each had felt that same sense of double-consciousness (114).

caravan

The president of the United States of America has chosen to demonize, criminalize, and verbally dehumanize the thousands of asylum seekers currently coming towards the border from Central America, most escaping Honduras, which many news organizations call “The World’s Deadliest Country”. Many of these people are young men, women, children, and elderly. Before they enter, they hope to apply as asylum seekers, which should technically aid them in a legal route of asylum. In the U.S., however, the immigration systems are severely out-of-date and meant to delay asylum to refugees for many small reasons, the main of which is just the subjectivity of opinion which goes with who gets asylum and who doesn’t.

I think if we were somehow able to share each individual story from the thousands of asylum seekers and hardworking individuals looking for a better life, searching for any life, we can actually start changing minds of politicians who see them as nothing but invaders. But if the president was presented with individual stories of the humanitarian crisis the refugees have been running from, one would hope that he would welcome those people with open arms, and allow asylum to those who need it.

In Frankenstein, I believe it was best summed up by Safie when describing why she never want to go back to Asia, where she was “allowed only to occupy herself with infantile amusements, ill-suited to temper her soul, now accustomed to grand ideas and a noble emulation for virtue” (112). This showed not only her desperation to go to another country where she could be herself without constraints, but showed how this alone should be enough to pass through and see if you can make a better life in another country. The very idea of borders exudes a racist, xenophobic ideology which has yet to be updated after many decades of fear mongering anything “other” to us, much like how the creature is treated by everyone they come in contact with, as well. It is no surprise they see themselves in the refugee story since their own double-consciousness must be deafening within themselves.

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The Creature’s tale is in many ways Safie’s. Watching the de Lacey family interact is largely how the Creature is socialized to see gender, power dynamics, acceptance, and most importantly truth. His truth specifically. The voyeuristic education the Creature participates in teaches him that the same constraints that apply to Safie apply to him. As someone at an educational disadvantage the Creature must learn a new language like Safie in order to at least be closer to being at the same level. Safie and the Creature both are not native to this language or the culture associated with it so as they are educated they do not take everything with a grain of salt. The Creature’s serious reading of Paradise Lost is a prime example of taking seriously something part of a culture that isn’t as important as an outsider may see it. Immigrants some times believe in certain stereotypes of the country they are immigrating to because of the way these countries choose to portray themselves as and then ultimately come to the realization that this portrayal is a lie. This creates double-consciousness because the immigrants now experience themselves through their own eyes and the eyes of the country they are immigrating to because even if the portrayal is incorrect there will be people who make it seem as if it’s an accurate one.

Here is where the Creature fails to realize double-consciousness exists. He presents someone else’s story as a sort of explanation for his own and in doing so is not only seeing himself through his own eyes but also through the eyes of Safie. Someone who recognizes that she now can see herself through multiple perspectives. Perhaps if the Creature had realized that double-consciousness existed he would not have chosen to use her letters as an explanation for his own life and would have written his own. Instead of using someone else’s story of migration and the life changing moments to make his own story more credible he would have relied on his own storytelling more.

By Diana Lara

In Frankenstein, we as the readers see the constant persecution that the creature is forced to endure, most resulting in some type of isolation because of the way he looks. As we learn more about Safie and her history, two pieces of the same puzzle instantly fall into place.

We are not able to see Safie for long in the novel, yet her short appearance does not go unnoticed. In fact, we can see a depressing and obvious contrast between her and the creature; while the creature is exiled by his own master and has no one to love him, Safie is warmly welcomed into the De Lacey family with open arms after being exiled. Because of Safie’s beauty, she is able to integrate herself into this new society, while the creature is stuck living alone in the wilderness, cursed to watch from afar.

The reason why the creature insisted on proving “the truth of [his] tale” is because he wanted Victor to see how Safie was affected by other’s kindness, and how this entire story could’ve ended differently if only Victor had welcomed his creation into this new, unfamiliar world, instead of disgracing him to isolation for all of eternity. A notable point in the novel was when Safie and the creature were both learning the same language at the same time, showing that they both have the intelligence to understand complex concepts; yet that doesn’t seem to matter, since people can judge you based on your looks, right?

The borderland

Immigration and race is now one of the new many ideas from the Frankenstein novel by Mary Shelley. The town people alienating the creature and fearing him for not knowing what he is when all he was trying to do was fit in, instead the shape him into the monster he becomes and places him to migrate else where. As for Safie, her father forbidding her and Felix together has them as well hiding their love. Not only relating to Safie’s letters, the creature learns the language as well as the literature and makes the connection with the human world by feeling sympathy for Safie. Especially feeling alone as she does, she’s the person who the creature connects to most.

Gloria Anzaldua concept of borderland, as she describes it as physical and emotional. Safie and the creature share the mestiza consciousness, crossbreeds, people who don’t belong in the world. Safie’s letters made the creature so close to her, she was the one human he truly connected to mentally and somewhat physically. Considering their suffering and betrayal the same, and the barriers Anzaldua represented between the creature and Safie. The creatures internal barrier with not knowing who he truly is and Safie’s physical barrier by running away from her father.

-Alexuz Bejarano

In Mary Shelley’s book Frankenstein, we are introduced to the characters of Felix and Safie and the story of how they met. We learn through their story how despite their differences such—language and culture barriers, even geographic barriers—they still ended up together. We also see how when Safie came to live with Felix the creature really was able to relate to her because he saw her as someone who was like him—different and attempting to assimilate to the very foreign society that they were now living in. Which is why when the creature refers to Safie’s letters to Felix as a way to “prove the truth of my tale,” it makes sense that he’s referencing Safie’s story as his because to him, they are almost the same person. To the creature he and Safie have faced the same struggles, and they have also learned together. When Felix was teaching Safie the creature was learning too and has picked up on her feels and opinions on everything she has learned and therefore has influence his beliefs and opinions on the world. So, he feels a connection that even goes as far as to say he feels like he is Safie.

I also would like to bring attention to the ideas that we discussed in class on Monday. We talked about “new mestizas,” “mestiza consciousness,” “creolization,” and the idea of “borderlands” and how these ideas could be seen in the characters of Safie, her father, and the creature. And I can see where the ideas of “mestizaje” can be seen in the stories of the three characters because of how they’ve had to live and assimilate to societies that are completely different to the place they came from. For Safie and her father it’s Turkey, and for the creature it’s him assimilating to society for the first time. But I don’t really see where the idea of “borderlands” plays in. I think it’s because the way I’ve learned about the idea of “borderlands” is that the “borderlands” is like an actual physical place where two or more cultures intermix and create a new culture. Such as at the border of the US and Mexico. But I don’t really see where in the book the idea of “borderlands” is represented? Maybe I’m completely missing the point, or I wasn’t paying attention in class when the professor was discussing this topic, but I just can’t seem to see the connection. Unless the idea of a borderlands is being represented by an actual character such as Safie or the creature. Then I could maybe see how that could be possible. But I don’t see how Safie going to another country and settling there would be seen as a “borderland,” I personally think it would be more of a “contact zone.” Which is the idea of a place where two or more cultures and trying to coexist together and trying to work out how to live together despite their differences. I would definitely like to understand where the connection would take place and how.

-Laura Mateo Gallegos

Esther Quintanilla

Immigration is a prominent topic in the novel Frankenstein. One of the most important points in the novel is that Safie, a Turkish immigrant, is subjected to living her life in hiding; this is due to her illegal immigrant status and the crimes that are put on her lover, Felix. Her country lies in political desolation because of colonization, she escapes Turkey while her father is imprisoned for a crime he did not commit. Safie travels to Germany, where she and Felix live in hiding waiting for the political atmosphere to change. While Safie’s story is one that is very modern and can be seen in today’s society, there is something in her story that relates very deeply to that of the creature.

The creature is not an inhabitant of any country. He is not welcome in any country, abandoned by his creator at birth and forced to live in exile of “real humans”. The creature is not a citizen. Therefore, he is able to wander from country to country, crossing borders left and right. This is because of his state of being. No country wants to allow him citizenship because he is so incredibly inhuman, which is an argument that many have toward immigrants, even to this day. The constant disrespect and dehumanization of immigrants, such as Safie, is a behavior that the creature constantly receives from the people he encounters. The truth of the creature lies in the stories of immigrants, for he is an immigrant himself.

Immigrants from almost any country, Central/South America, Arabian countries, etc. are immensely slandered in political media. They are dehumanized, called rapists, terrorists, and lazy. Immigrants who travel to America, in search for success and opportunities that would not be granted in their home countries, are “inhuman” in the eyes of the law. They are subject to respect the laws of the country but are not able to live as Americans in peace. The stories of these brave immigrants are astounding. They have overcome every barrier, every obstacle in order to achieve a better life for their children and future grandchildren. However, this is something that the law refuses to see. Immigrants are nothing more than criminals, they will never receive the respect and acceptance that they deserve.

The term “monster” gets thrown around more often than people think. It is consistently used as a form of degradation. This is especially obvious in Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein where the Victor Frankenstein’s creation is constantly called a “monster” by the people that come across it. One instance where the Creature’s rage is apparent is when he encounters young William Frankenstein and subsequently kills him.

“‘Hideous monster! let me go. My papa is a Syndic–he is M. Frankenstein–he will punish you. You dare not keep me” (126).

This elicits a reaction from the Creature that is full of rage. Here is a child throwing around words that are more harmful than he can imagine. Which brings me to Jessica Rae Fisher’s piece on Transgender Rage and Kindness. Jessica talks about how words like “monster” have been used in reference to transgender individuals and the negative effects this use of the word have had on these individuals. She makes a point to reference a statistic from the 2015 U.S. Transgender Survey that puts it into perspective how much these words affect transgender individuals.

These words have the power to further isolate individuals and make them feel as even more different than they already feel. This sort of emotion is rampant in the novel as well. The Creature in that same moment also experiences rage among other emotions. It has been subjected to constant verbal abuse that can only lead to a tipping point.

“Can you wonder that such thoughts transported me with rage? I only wonder that at that moment, instead of venting my sensations in exclamations and agony, I did not rush among mankind, and perish in the attempt to destroy them” (127).

The Creature most certainly felt isolated and beyond that it felt rage. Regardless of what the Creature did it would never be fully accepted or at least that is the way it saw itself.

Perhaps reclaiming words so they no longer have the power to hurt people is the way to make an initial change. Ultimately this issue goes beyond words but that is certainly a start.

By Diana Lara

Esther Quintanilla

Gender identity and gender ambiguity seem to be a major complication in the novel Frankenstein by Mary Shelley. Victor Frankenstein seems to be in conflict with his identity and has thrown his issues onto the creature that he animates at the beginning of the novel. While we identified in class that Victor may or may not have the desire to transition into a woman (i.e. his “womb envy”, his desire to create life, his lack of love toward his wife), the question of the creature’s gender has not been thoroughly discussed. We briefly talked about how the creature assumes that he is male due to his observation of the power that men hold in the world around him but, there is ambiguity in the biological gender of the creature. He is made in the image of a beautiful being, modeled after presumably Victor’s mother, but is quickly tossed to the side when he does not fulfill the desire that Victor is trying to achieve, that is to give life to something beautiful. The gender of the creature is not disclosed, and it is up to him alone to decide what he chooses to identify with.

Jessica Rae Fisher does an excellent job in her essay I Am Frankenstein’s Monster: An Echo of Susan Stryker’s Call to Action in explaining the misconceptions and the struggles that transgender individuals face on a daily basis. As a trans woman, she discusses the many troubles that she, along with her community, has suffered. From slurs to complete ignorance being spread about her identity, she still maintains a hopeful outlook and pushes her community to take authority over those who are transphobic and ignorant. Fisher calls out for her community to reclaim the words of hatred, such as “monster”, “tranny”, “Frankenstein”, etc. that are spewed upon them and to take power over the society of hatred.

Fisher’s article was and is inspiring to the trans community. Her words of encouragement will allow for the cycle of ignorance to stop and for more knowledge about transgender issues to be brought to light.

Esther Quintanilla

The Oedipal complex, as explained by Sigmund Freud, is the repressed desire for a son (or daughter) to have sex with their mother (or father) and is in a constant battle with the father (or the mother). These desires, as mentioned before, are repressed deeply into the son’s unconscious. However, in the novel Frankenstein, this is not the case at all. After the animation of the creature, Victor Frankenstein experiences a very vivid dream in which he is kissing his love Elizabeth but then shifts into Frankenstein’s departed mother.

This wild dream says quite a bit about the psyche of Victor.

The Oedipal complex is an unconscious desire that is repressed by the son/daughter. However, Victor experiences this desire in his sleep, in his subconscious-which is very different than the unconscious. The subconscious is defined as concerning the part of the mind of which one is not fully aware, but which still influences one’s actions and feelings. The unconscious is defined as the part of the mind that is inaccessible to the conscious mind, meaning, it would have no effect on the way Victor acts or the dreams the he dreams. The fact that Victor dreams about kissing his mother shows that Victor has a desire to sleep with his dead mother, and that he is not trying very hard to repress it or to change it. Elizabeth was raised by Victor’s mother, and therefore is a byproduct of her being. Elizabeth is the most identical person to his mother, and that leads to the idea that Victor only wants to be with Elizabeth because he has an unrepressed desire to sleep with his dead mother.

In regard to the animation of a corpse made of severed body parts, this may be the unrepressed desire coming to the surface of Victor’s mind. Perhaps Victor wanted to animate this creature in order to fulfill his necrophilia-oedipal desire. But when the creature turns out to be something that is hideous in Victor’s eyes, something unlike his mother (or Elizabeth), he abandons it in hopes that it will destroy itself. Thus, creating the conflict of the novel: Victor running away from his unrepressed desires in the hopes of them going away on their own.

By: Mary Russell

In Burke’s Reflections on the Revolution in France, he mourns the destruction of beauty. He bemoans the execution of Marie Antoinette claiming she was so beautiful and perfect that, “Ten thousand swords must have leaped from their scabbards to avenge even a look that threatened her with insult,” (76). She was the epitome of a perfect queen, and woman to him. Burke then moves on to argue that without the admiration of Marie Antoinette and others like her – kings and other such royalty – none will be moral. He claims that, “To make us love our country, our country must me lovely,” (78). If none admire or love their country then none will abide by the laws or engage in “natural” behaviors. That is also Burke’s argument. Revolutionaries are ugly because they seek to destroy the “natural” order of things. According to Burke, man desires to be subjugated and without a beauty in the subjugation, everyone will become unnatural and revolt.

Mary Shelley was raised by two radicals however the death of Justine in Frankenstein seems to mirror Burke’s sentiments. Justine is described as beautiful and kind. During her trial she is, “Confident in innocence, and did not tremble, although gazed on and execrated by thousands; for all the kindness which her beauty might otherwise have excited, was obliterated in the minds of the spectators by the imagination of the enormity she was supposed to have committed,” (79). This description of her trial matches Burke’s description of Marie Antoinette’s imprisonment which she faced gracefully as a queen should. Justine’s beauty is ignored because the mob is chaotic and not thinking straight, imagining they are justified and obliterating her innocence. They are a revolutionary hive mind set out to destroy Justine’s beauty. Looking even further, the creature is technically at fault for Justine’s death. Had he not planted the evidence on her, she would not have been accused. Following Burke’s logic this ugly, unnatural being is at fault for the death of beauty and order. Justine’s death marks the poignant beginning to the creature’s murderous rampage. Even though William’s death is technically the first, the readers do not see it. They see Justine’s death and following this, more and more people are killed in the creature’s reign of terror. The destruction of beauty is the destruction of order and the beginning of the end.