App vs. Book

I was biased. I bought this app with the mentality that I would hate it. In the past, I have enjoyed owning, holding, and writing in a tangible book. It was mine. This other “book” that I simply had to download on the ipad was not actually real. It didn’t truly belong to me. If the Ipad crashed it could simply disappear. A real book is not going anywhere. It can’t just vanish. It is concrete object.  So I began this assignment thinking, “Ugh. Is this really necessary?”

However, I immediately realized I was mistaken. Just opening the Frankenstein app and seeing the ominous image on the cover of the “book” made Frankenstein ten times more appealing to read. When I “opened” to the first page of the “book” I noticed that there were buttons on the bottom that allowed me to tweet about it, like the page on facebook, or control the volume. The notion of being able to connect this old book to recent technology made the app exciting to me.

The large font and the images made the book easier for me to read. I loved that instead of turning the page, all I simply had to do was press the bottom and the next page would rise up for me to read. The fact that the background to the text looked like old paper with staples in it made it more attractive to read.

Unlike in a physical book, you cannot skip pages. You can’t press chapter two until you are finished with chapter one, and you can’t press part two until you are finished with part one. The app is smart. In a way, unlike a tangible book, it thinks. The text isn’t printed, it is designed. I ultimately conclude that I like reading more from the app than I do from the book.

Sweet Vengeance?

Vengeance is a major theme prominent throughout Frankenstein. “Bill” seeks to destroy his creator, the creator, who instantaneously abandoned him after noticing his hideous appearance. Is it right of the “monster” to kill Victor’s family and friends? Or is it in fact a human trait to make sure that an individual is on an equal platform as their counterpart?

Throughout the novel, while narrating the story to Walton, Victor refers to his creation as the devil, the demon, or the wretch. The “monster,” on the other hand, addressed Victor in a divine manner and looks upon Victor to fulfill his requests and rightfully so, because it is his right to be nurtured by his creator. “Oh!  My creator, make me happy; let me feel gratitude towards you for one benefit! Let me see that I excite the sympathy of some existing thing; do not deny me my request” (Shelley, 157). Victor deprives Bill of this basic human necessity. Bill is neglected by his creator and detested by other beings around him. The only being the “demon” could seek help from was Victor but he wasn’t there for him. “From you only could I hope for succor, although towards you I felt no sentiment but that of hatred. Unfeeling, heartless creator! You had endowed me with perceptions and passions, and then cast be abroad an object for the scorn and horror of mankind” (Shelley, 152). Victor unjustly denies Bill of the fundamental need of any new-born being, a guardian.

Undoubtedly, this act of Victor wasn’t humane. Bill perceives Victors act to be immoral and murders William. By doing so, he commits an act of retributive justice. In Islam, justice is based on the concept of “an eye for an eye”. “In the Torah We prescribed for them a life for a life, an eye for an eye, a nose for a nose, an ear for an ear, a tooth for a tooth, an equal wound for a wound: if anyone forgoes this out of charity, it will serve as atonement for his bad deeds” (Quran, 5:45). Revenge has been classified as a natural human instinct in Islam and in many other religions. It was, and still is, a natural human characteristic to inflict proportionate loss and pain on the aggressor as he has inflicted on him. Although by murdering William, Henry Clerval and Elizabeth, the “monster” commits criminal acts, he is justified in making Victor feel the same way that he feels. If Bill doesn’t get to have a guardian, a friend or a partner, Victor (his creator) doesn’t get to have those relations either. Bill obviously wouldn’t be allowed to enter a supreme court so he has to take steps to make sure he is on an equal platform with Victor. Similarly, after the murder of Elizabeth, Victor develops an obsessive urge for revenge. Neither Victor nor Bill are “monsters” if they take justice into their own hands.

Frankenstein the Monster

Through his seeking out to destroy his creation, Frankenstein in turn gradually becomes that which he fears and abhors.

No matter what Frankenstein does, he has condemned himself to eternal punishment and despair. He has weakened as a person, and, as he often tends to obsess, he has let the threat of the monster take over his life. Where as once he was an all-powerful creator when he possessed the knowledge to restore life to the dead and breach the boundaries of nature, now he becomes the “creature” and the monster becomes the being who dictates Frankenstein’s life. When Frankenstein decides to break his promise and destroys his progress in making a female monster, the creature exclaims, “Slave, I before reasoned with you, but you have proved yourself unworthy…Remember that I have power…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” (Shelley 176). The monster states that he is the “master.” He now holds all the power and knowledge, as Frankenstein did before he gave life to the monster. The monster, when beginning his tale to Frankenstein, talks about how with the light he became more aware and conscious of the world, and now he uses the light as a threat to Frankenstein. Frankenstein moves backwards in progress because even the light will burden him while the monster becomes more knowledgeable and more powerful still. Also, the monster uses words such as “unworthy” and “wretched,” which were words that he uses to describe himself when he is an innocent being trying to fit into the world.

Additionally, when Frankenstein steps off of his boat after being lost in the ocean, unaware of his whereabouts, onto the shore, he is greeted as if he were a monster himself. He is docking his boat when Frankenstein notices the civilians of the shore: “several people crowded towards the spot. They seemed very much surprised at my appearance; but, instead of offering me any assistance, whispered together with gestures that at any other time might have produced in me a slight sensation of alarm (180).  Shelley uses the words “surprised” and “appearance” as if to parallel the normal reaction that any human being gives to the monster when he first tries to show himself to human society.  The citizens are “whispering” and using “gestures,” treating him as some sort of outcast or unwanted guest. They immediately charge him for murder and imprison him, an act which shows that the crowd sees him as a figurative monster, predator, and a threat. Frankenstein also alludes to that he “might have” been alarmed before he created the monster if he had been received by such gestures from a crowd, but now he almost expects people to suspect him and see him as dangerous or a monster. This is also how the monster thinks when he realizes that he is an outcast to society.

Thus, through his inability to solve his own problem, Frankenstein transforms into what he fears most and loses his ability to dictate his life. Everything he does it is to prevent his creature from living in happiness. In doing so, however, Frankenstein gives up his own hopes to ever be happy again.

You Ain’t Seen Nothing Yet

Last week I wrote about the great Nature versus Nurture debate and how it had to do with Frankenstein. While initially I was going to write about something completely different this week, the last few pages of the novel persuaded me to go back to my previous idea.

While last week I concluded that “Bill” (Yes, I know that in class we decided he probably shouldn’t have a name, but it is still easier for the blog’s sake) had already become evil due to his circumstances, the last few pages of the novel suggest otherwise. After Frankenstein’s passing, Walton finds Bill in the cabin on his ship. It is here that Bill confesses his remorse for the murders. Sort of.

Bill brings up Frankenstein’s suffering and then says, “he suffered not more in the consummation of the deed;–oh! Not the ten-thousandth portion of the anguish that was mine during the lingering detail of its execution. […] Think ye that the groans of Clerval were music to my ears?” (Shelley 218) Bill admits that murdering Frankenstein’s friend made him feel terrible. At another point he also says that murdering the sleeping Elizabeth and innocent Willian were hard for him, too. He says that, “[his] heart was fashioned to be susceptible of love and sympathy,” (Shelley 218) at first. As I mentioned last week, he was compassionate and yearning for love and companionship before he was turned evil. However, I assumed that because he did kill William, he already had lost his innocence, so to speak. However, here we find that this isn’t exactly true.

Bill himself admits to finally losing his good side. He says, “I had cast off all feeling, subdued all anguish to riot in the excess of my despair. Evil thenceforth became my good.” (Shelley 218) Meaning that only then did he really become evil.

What I’m trying to say, is that yes, I stand by last week’s post about nature versus nurture, that Bill did turn evil because of his circumstances, but I’d like to add something else as well. My other “moral to the story” is that we shouldn’t be too quick to judge. I suppose that ties back in on what we’ve said all along, even about Ophelia. We assumed Bill became evil too quickly. While we were right about Bill being evil eventually, we were too quick to jump the gun.

Curiosity

A major theme prevalent throughout the last section of Frankenstein is the idea of curiosity. The want and need to discover new ideas and objects is seen in the character Walton during his letters home to his sister. After hearing the story about the fiend, instead of wallowing in sorrow for Frankenstein or horrified by the atrocity of this monster, he is primarily concerned with how Frankenstein made this creature. Walton “endeavored to gain from Frankenstein the particulars of his creature’s formation, but on this point he was impenetrable” (Shelley 209). Frankenstein told Walton this story to share his past years’ misfortune, but Walton was still fixated on the one part of the story Frankenstein wanted to leave out. Walton, as a good friend, obviously cares about his friend’s tumults, but his curiosity gets the best of him.

Another part of the story where the readers see Walton’s curiosity is when the rest of the crew, if in danger, wants to turn their voyage southward. As Walton pauses to answer this demand, Frankenstein reminds Walton and the crew that they “were hereafter to be hailed as the benefactors of [their] species, [their] name adored, as belonging to brave men who encountered death for honor and the benefit of mankind” (Shelley 214).  Although this voyage presents so much danger and has a likelihood of death, Walton still wants to continue just for the sake of curiosity. He does not think about the cost, but about the new discovery he could make if he reaches the north. The strive for finding something new is so powerful and triumphs over all other emotions.

This theme continues when Walton sees the monster for the first time. He knew that the request of his friend was to destroy the enemy but upon seeing the fiend, he was “now suspended by a mixture of curiosity and compassion” (Shelley 217). Again, Walton knew what was in front of him and what he obeyed his friend he would do, but his curiosity transcended. This force of curiosity seems to overpower all, and make less of the other events in Walton’s past. This sense of curiosity can be applied to today’s technology, as each person strives to find something new, as it seems discovery is one of the most important parts of our lives.

Creation and Dysfunction

As we discussed in class, biblical allusions play an important role in the communication of Shelley’s message in Frankenstein. Shelley refers to different biblical instances and uses them to highlight the disorders and troubles between the characters of Victor and the monster. But for this blog post, I intend to focus specifically on God’s Creation of Adam and Eve. This allusion is highly important because both characters accept roles that do not belong to them and this causes problems and despair for them. Victor places himself as God, the Creator of man, and the monster places himself as man, even though he does not have the full physical qualities of a human.

Victor’s position as God is immediately seen in how the monster addresses him. The monster alludes to the creation of Adam and Eve and respects him as his “natural lord and king…[his] creator,” the one who has all power over the monster (Shelley 118). As an added allusion to Adam and Eve, the monster also believes he “ought to be [Victor’s] Adam,” showing how much the monster acknowledges Victor as God (Shelley 119). And, in all of this, Victor never disputes the fact that he is God over the monster. Victor establishes sovereignty in the monster’s mind, making the monster think he is subject in power and authority to him. As God and ruler of the monster, he accepts a role that he cannot handle because he is still man and cannot function as the all-sufficient God who provides and cares for man. This accepted role leads to more problems because conflict and tension grows between both of them. With an attitude completely unlike God’s character, Victor replies “Begone! I will not hear from you! There can be no community between you and me” (Shelley 119). Although Victor establishes himself as God, he does not exhibit God’s qualities and moves farther away from his creation. Shelley emphasizes the allusion to the creation of Adam and Eve in order to show the disorder and problems that occur when Victor tries to become God rather than just a man.

Also, Shelley alludes to the creation of Adam and Eve when the monster desires to get a wife. The monster dreams of finding a friend and companion that would listen to him and sympathize with him, but he does not find such a person. He laments about why his situation has to be different since he thinks he is not much different from Adam. Once, he “remembers [that] Adam [made] supplications to his Creator,” but he cannot find his creator (Shelley 145). He mentions his desire that Victor creates an “Eve to sooth his sorrows,” so he is not abandoned or alone (Shelley 145). However, the monster forgets that he is not entirely human and having a wife or mate is not something he is entitled to as a monster. The monster sees himself as a human and demands human qualities, but he does not appear as human. He wants to be treated as a human who can live with another human, but this is not possible since monsters cannot exist with humans. As a result, more troubles ensue between both characters because of this allusion. The monster accepts a different role that is not himself and this causes more trouble and distress for both characters. This allusion to the creation of Adam and Eve further illustrates the problems that can arise from accepting the wrong role or becoming the wrong character.

Shelley uses the allusion of creation to point out the fundamental error in accepting a role that is contrary to one’s identity. By comparing Victor and the monster to God and Adam, she clearly expresses the importance remaining as oneself and not becoming another character.

Humans or Monsters?

Throughout the novel, Mary Shelley constantly implies the monstrosity of human nature. Although the “creature” represents the typical stereotype of a monster, Shelley plays on certain comparisons to Frankenstein in order to illustrate the fine line between humanity and monstrosity.

Firstly, Frankenstein creates an evil monster out of selfishness because he wants to obtain notoriety and fame. He claims, “no father could claim the gratitude of his child so completely as I should deserve [my creation’s]” (Shelley 80).  Frankenstein’s lack of concern for repercussions and thirst for fame can categorize him as a monster. Frankenstein puts his desires and concerns above that of all others, a typically inhumane characteristic of mankind.

Secondly, Frankenstein abandons his creation purely based on physical judgments. The second he sees the creature he gave life to, he is revolted by his hideous appearance and terrifying demeanor. Frankenstein merely judges this creature based on his appearance and doesn’t give him a chance for a normal life. Similarly, all humans that the creature encounters treat him the same way. Because of this inhumane treatment, a monster is born. In this light, humans can be viewed as monstrous creatures because of their superficiality and reckless attitude towards others.

Lastly, towards the end of the novel, Frankenstein himself becomes a striking image of the monster he created. He becomes obsessed with evil and revenge, and consumed by hatred. Frankenstein refers to himself as a “miserable wretch” (Shelley 165). Shelley now uses the same words to describe Frankenstein, as she had previously used for the monster reflecting the fact that the two are become increasingly more alike. Just like the monster he created, Frankenstein eventually became alienated and even abhorred himself.  The many similarities between Frankenstein and his creation show the fine line between humanity and monstrosity.

The Power of Guilt

‘Guilty’ has multiple definitions and uses in modern day society. It can be used to describe a feeling that pushes people towards apologies and good deeds. It can also signify the blame on a person. Guilt, and all the complications that are dragged with it, are inescapable in Frankenstein.

Justine was condemned for a murder she did not commit and lost her life because of her unproven innocence. She was not guilty for the murder of young William. Even though the monster’s hands were the ones who strangled away William’s life, is Frankenstein consequently guilty as well? He created the very monster that resulted in the death of his brother, Justine, and Clerval. Frankenstein, while rotting in jail for the murder of Clerval contemplates, “At one time I considered whether I should not declare myself guilty, and suffer the penalty of law, less innocent than poor Justine had been” (Shelley 184). Frankenstein compares himself to the pure Justine, considering him innocent. He says that “poor unhappy Justine, was as innocent as [him]” (Shelley 189). In my opinion, he has an equal amount of blood on his hands as the monster and unfairly equates his guilt with Justine’s.

However, Frankenstein did recognize that he indeed did play a part in the deaths of his loved ones. This guilt he felt after realizing what he had contributed to lead to his ceaseless search for the monster. He was determined to seek revenge for the monster’s crimes and to kill him, destroying the demon he designed.

When Frankenstein’s fight was terminated by death, his monster visited his coffin, asking for his forgiveness. He explained that “evil thenceforth became [his] good” and he, although he felt guilty, continued to kill to prove his point and get revenge on Frankenstein (Shelley 218). The creature realizes his guilt and contribution to the ultimate death of Frankenstein but also realizes that he is not the only ‘monster’ in the situation. He says, “Am I to be thought the only criminal, when all human kind sinned against me?” (Shelley 219). The creature directly caused the deaths of the innocent people and Frankenstein played his part as well, but society is also guilty of driving them to this madness through pressures, judgments, and expectations. Though the peoples’ hands did not physically strangle the victims, guilt can be found in all.

The significance of Henry Clerval

It’s obvious that Henry Clerval serves as a foil character for Victor Frankenstein. Clerval is almost the complete opposite of Victor and this is made evident throughout the entire story. Especially in Volume 3 we see more of Clerval and the contrasting emotions of the two. Victor is sad and depressed for almost, if not all, of the last volume, while Clerval is able to marvel and experience happiness by all the sights and places the two visit on their journey. As Victor says, “The delight of Clerval was proportionally greater than mine.” (170). Throughout this entire last volume we constantly see Clerval experiencing happiness, while Victor feels guilt for the loss of his family and pressure to fulfill his goal of finding the monster he created.

Clerval is extremely significant in the life of Victor, as the two have known each other since childhood. In the story Victor completely deviates from telling his story to Walden in order to talk of how great Henry Clerval is as a friend and person. Victor states that, “the voice of Henry soothed me.” He calls him his, “beloved friend” (166) When Henry realizes that he has gone on a tangent he states, “Pardon this gush of sorrow; these ineffectual words are but a slight tribute to the unexampled worth of Henry…I will proceed with my tale.” (167) It’s clear that Henry was important to Victor and the main reason Victor was able to experience moments of happiness through his depression and illness.

Clerval was also there as the Foil character, as mentioned earlier, to contrast and emphasize even more that emotion of Victor. The fact that Henry was mentioned by Victor so many time in the last volume, made Clerval’s death that much more significant and difficult not just for Victor, but for the reader as well. It’s interesting that Shelly had Clerval die, Victor’s last true companion that he could depend on because Elizabeth was just as emotional as Henry. I think that Shelly did this just to show how horrible Victor’s life became and just how much the creation of this monster truly ruined his life.

 

Foils and Family

Although we have discussed the idea of the monster being Frankenstein’s foil, no other comparisons have been made for the monster. In the following post, I intend to show how Elizabeth serves as a foil to the monster as well.

In a sense, both Elizabeth and the monster are similar characters, since their fathers abandoned them. Apart from that, the similarities between the two end. Unlike the monster, Elizabeth was adopted by a family, Frankenstein’s father “my father did not hesitate… accompany the little Elizabeth to her future home” (Shelly 66), leaving her with someone to care for her. This small difference then causes a contrasting split in the development of Elizabeth and the monster. While Elizabeth blissfully enjoys being sheltered and guided, the monster must struggle through constant bereavement and misjudgment. Even the education of the two is dissimilar, since Elizabeth was “educate[d]” (Shelly 65) by Frankenstein’s father, while the monster was educated by “ Paradise LostPlutarch’s Lives, and the Sorrows of Werter” (Shelly 142). In the case of the monster, he also had no guidance on how to interpret the works he read, leading him to have an unrealistic perception of the world. With all this in mind, the end results come to no surprise, Elizabeth being a “lively” “benevolent” girl– that is up until Frankenstein leaves –while the monster goes on to become, well, a monster. So in the end, the adopted orphan triumphed over the rejected orphan.

Retrospectively, a new foil to the monster arises, Elizabeth, who also helps in emphasizing Shelly’s stance on the importance of family and family values. As we have already discussed, as Frankenstein distances himself from his family he becomes more pessimistic and maniacal, or more monstrous, since he has no one who can condole or guide him. So it comes to no surprise that the monster parallels these unfortunate attributes.