Missing Themes?

Although the application was an engaging experience, the application came short in displaying the novel’s themes. While some themes are understated by the application, other themes are amplified as well.

Apart from not providing Walton’s letters, thematic statements of the novel are either absent or diluted. One theme I saw absent from the application was the emphasis on feminism. Considering how the application reconstructs Shelly’s words, some of the subtle feministic statements are either understated or completely erased. Realizing this, I then went on to think what other themes were understated by the application. In other words, this one weakness in the reconstruction of Shelly’s text makes for a big hole in the application.

Although I stated that some themes were downplayed, others were amplified. One important theme that received emphasis was the maniacal development from solitude, as shown by Frankenstein. The application showed more scenes of Frankenstein’s maniacal persona than in Shelly’s text, emphasizing the thematic statement. Another stressed theme was the point of the cathartic result from appreciating nature. When the application allowed one to guide Frankenstein through nature, there were a large number of excerpts of Frankenstein transcending from grief to bliss. So while some themes are understated by the application, there are other themes that are emphasized far more than they are in the original text.

Still, there is the fact that there are many paths in this application, making my point lightweight. In other words, other users of the application could have received different texts, resulting in different themes. Considering this fact, another person could have seen a feministic theme and miss the solitude theme. With this in mind, the application seems faulty in a discussion setting. The fact that every user may receive different text, resulting in different interpretations of the novel, makes for a hectic discussion, futile in making concrete agreements within a group.

Retrospectively, though this application was enjoyable to use, the fact that there are theme “holes” makes me weary to use it. Still, I would not discourage anyone from using the application, but I would advise one to read the original text before coming into the application.

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.

A Feministic Undertone?

From our last reading, Bellocq’s Ophelia, we saw the importance in knowing someone’s background, ranging from the author to his or her characters. Once one acknowledged the characters backstory, new ideas arose from the characters interactions and the author’s intentions. Considering this fact, one must acknowledge Mary Shelly’s background, most importantly the mother that raised her. Mary Shelly’s mother was Mary Wollstonecraft, whom of which is one of the most important feminist philosophers in history. With this in mind, innocent remarks to the female gender are now weighed with more importance, since they are more than likely to have feministic intentions.

The most pivotal scene where this is seen is when Victor makes the triumphant remark that “no father could claim the gratitude of his child so completely as I should deserve their’s” (80-81 Shelly). This idea that the conception of this “child” is greater than that of a normal one reveals a very misogynistic undertone. Unlike a normal child, this being is a creation made by man and only man, untainted by the imperfections of a woman. Furthermore, Victor’s comment comes out as a condescending statement, since he feels that a man could not truly be proud of an offspring, because a female was required to make it. Not only that, but Victor’s act strips away a blessed trait of the female gender, the making of life. With all these notions brewed together, Victor “unintentionally” seems to be trying to do away with the female gender in general. Although the argument may seem too extreme, Victor still seems to see his creature with more respect than a regular infant, since “no other father could claim … his child so completely” (Shelly 80).

Retrospectively, had Shelly’s background gone untouched, Victor’s statement would be nothing more than a joyful remark. Still, there are other scenes of old sexist beliefs “I desired to discover… she sought to people with imaginations of her own” (Shelly 66) and “but she did not interest in the subjects [natural philosophies]” (Shelly 69), both of which show women’s apathy toward the complicated arts, but interest in simplistic duties. Though these are important, Victor’s joyous remark highlights, what I believe to be, Shelly’ feministic undertone.

A Stalemate?

Debo’s article, “Ophelia Speaks: Resurrecting Still Lives in Natasha Trethewey’s Bellocq’s Ophelia” displays the stalemate that race creates for Ophelia. Debo shows that though Ophelia’s  “African heritage” (Debo 210) attracts an audience, it also forces a placement upon her as she receives smarmy glances outside and inside the brothel. All in all, I coincide with Debo’s view of the conflicting attributes of race, which result it in being advantageous and disadvantageous – in Ophelia’s case.

Besides attracting an audience, Ophelia’s race provides other advantageous to her situation. Unlike a white prostitute, Ophelia is allowed to work in a “fancy colored house” (Trethewey 17), which was of higher maintenance and of more secure security. Although a nicer brothel might not seem to one as an advantage, in Ophelia’s case, not having to supplement her worries with sanitary conditions and security are great survival benefits. Another advantage her race provides is that it makes her more exotic “She calls me Violet now/ – a common name… except/ I am the African Violet” (Trethewey 13), which raises her price range for the auction’s customers. Though one may believe the moniker “African Violet” (Trethewey 17) a mere descriptor, the fact that the Countess says this during the auction, shows that it is a more monetary reason.

Although Ophelia’s race provides some benefits, there are also a number of disadvantageous that come with her race. Through all the progress that Ophelia is facing from her newfound money to her job, it seems that Ophelia might progress to a situation of economic security. Unfortunately, her race causes others to prevent her from progressing as they detest to see her be financially well off, or as Debo puts it white society “remind her of her position.” Ophelia receives her degrading position as she is found “guilty of being/ where I was not allowed to be, a woman” (Trethewey 29), showing that society expects Ophelia to be in the brothel and not outside with the success of society. Apart from receiving a degrading position, Ophelia’s race also creates a barrier of acceptance. While she works at the brothel the men “debate” (Trethewey 26) on how to know that she is African American “whether one can tell, just by looking, / our secret” (Trethewey 26). So though being an “exotic curiosity” (Trethewey 26) raises her auctioning price, it also serves as a constant reminder that she will never be accepted like a white worker.

Conclusively, Ophelia’s position of race is not only a deleterious one, but an advantageous one as well. How one considers which is more dominant – in Ophelia’s current situation – is up to one’s opinion. Though I agreed that Ophelia’s race attributes clash, I believe that her negatives outweigh her positives. I stand by this argument on the basis that had she not been half black, she would not be in this situation at all.

Money Motivates!

Throughout a person’s life, money has always been the determining factor in a certain situation. From one’s career, to one’s possessions, money has directed where one goes. Not only that, but money makes one think any decision seems rational and morally justifiable. Trethewey’s novella, Bellocq’s Ophelia, details Ophelia being pushed to prostitution, because of her unfortunate need for money. Also, detailing how Ophelia tries to justify her choice in becoming a prostitute.

Immediately, Trethewey provides Ophelia’s profile: educated, young, and most importantly, black. Considering her time, 1910’s, society would dismiss her age and intelligence just one the basis of her pigmentation. Being conceived in a racist society limit Ophelia’s options and considering how her “purse thins” (Trethewey, 7), pursuing a respected profession does not seem economically wise. Acknowledging her economical problems and the fact that “no one needs a girl” (Trethewey, 7), any job would be accepted with open arms; pushing her to become a prostitute. Although one would think that Ophelia would take time to think over her decision, she only takes a month to decide to become a prostitute, showing how quickly money can sway a person.

Apart from making Ophelia work where “one glass of champagne is twenty” (Trethewey, 11), Storyville, the need of money seems to make her glamorize prostitution. Ophelia places an elegant façade over the grotesque profession “the perfumed soaps and fine silk gowns we wear”(Trethewey, 17), hindering any sense of regret. Ophelia then goes on to say that the money is being spent for a good cause “I have bought my mother new teeth” (Trethewey, 15), which is another way she tries to justify her decision. Although one would dismiss this as Ophelia’s appreciation for her new life, Trethewey explains Ophelia’s new mindset, “Empty your thoughts—think, if you do, only of your swelling purse”(Trethewey, 11). In other words, money demands Ophelia to diminish any sense of regret, since she will be paid at the end of all the dismay.

Retrospectively, Ophelia’s turn to prostitution is not only based on her limited options, but also on the fact of the universal need for money.

Chaplin and the Industry.

Chaplin’s film, Modern Times, parodies the unfortunate life of the blue-collar workers during the Great Depression, stating his discontent of their exploitation. From the obscure outbursts of Chaplin to the obvious symbols, Modern Times takes a definitive stance in attacking the industrial institution in its treatment of the every man.

Immediately, the film opens to a screen of a frantic flock of sheep, which then transitions to a group of men going to work. The juxtaposition, serves as the view of how the bachelor’s – as Melville would say – view the working class; nothing more than a group of blind sheep. The laborer receives this depiction to display the degradation their superiors have of them, an unjustifiable treatment for a fellow man. Apart from the animal comparison, Chaplin creates a parallel to the workers and the machines through his obnoxious outburst. His breakdown, displays him going through the factory interrupting the work of the men, but continuing to do his duty, continuing to turn the corkscrew. In a sense, Chaplin can be defined as a dysfunctional machine, since he doesn’t operate in the traditional sense of a mental breakdown of random cries; instead he leaves his station but continues to do his job. This homogenization of man and machine, reveal how to the factory militant, the laborer is just another piece to the almighty machine. Finally, the working class can be defined as nothing more than innocuous animals with machine duties.

Chaplin continues to criticize the industrial machine, by exaggerating the power of the bosses. Chaplin displays the boss’s appearance in a jocular manner, but the intention is to show how controlling the heads of the industry are. The boss’s appearance in the bathroom displays this sense of all seeing and all knowing. In a sense, the boss is their God, deepening the workers’ subordination. Furthermore, the boss lies in his heaven of clear air, while these men suffer under the fumes of the machines.

Retrospectively, Chaplin strikes the industrial institution through subtle symbolism and overstated parallels, breaking the façade of the so-called fairness the establishment creates.

A patriarchy.

Throughout history males have perpetuated a hedonistic patriarchal society, never considering the side of the distressed female. Melville’s The Paradise of Bachelors and the Tartarus of Maids amplifies male’s half-blindness through the exploitation of the uncomprehending male and the subversive female.

Melville splits, The Paradise Bachelors and the Tartarus of Maids, into to pieces, The Paradise of Bachelors coming first and The Tartarus of Maids coming second. With this setup, Melville intends to display the dichotomous life of the two sexes, one consisting of “flower-beds, and a river on the side” and the other consisting of “blank air… and comfortless expression”. Melville’s polar comparisons continue throughout the tale as the narrator express “But where are the gay bachelors” (1269) displaying his idiocy, since he cannot comprehend the fact that there is another side to his “Apartment…up toward heaven” (1261). Apart from the obvious contrasting qualities of lifestyle, Melville intertwines a sarcastic tone throughout the piece, mocking the men’s ignorance, “how could they suffer themselves to be imposed upon such monkish fables? Pain! Trouble!” (1264) showing that these men have no willing to understand the other side of heaven, and why should they care when they have plenty of “sherry”!

Although one may think that in the end the narrator learns a lesson, he departs abruptly, never caring for the events that took place in the factory. Upon further analysis, the narrator is seen as never caring for the girls, since he is more compassionate for his horse’s health “blanketing my horse…So that the wind might not strip him bare” (1270) rather than the well being of the “supernatural with unrelated misery” (1270) or, the shivering girl. Even though he witnesses the pale girl deteriorating from the frost, he never considers giving his horse’s blanket to her.  This absence of remorse for the girls continues, “poor Black, my horse, all cringing and doubled up with the cold” (1279) showing the narrator express remorse for his horse rather than the girls, whom of which he just saw being mistreated. Lastly, Melville introduces Cupid, a caricature of the male reaction to the misery of females; he smiles while they suffer.

Conclusively, Melville displays the true nature of the male, as long as his cup is filled, why care for the health of the one who fills it.

Is Vint Right About The Body?

During class discussion we have perpetuated the notion that Gibson’s novel, Neuromancer, deals explicitly with a continual chase for feeding one’s hunger for technology, but as one reexamines the novel an opposing view can be made. Sherryl Vint’s critique, Cyberpunk: Return of the Repressed Body, makes the argument that most, if not all, the events in Neuromancer can be traced back to the wants of the human body. With an abundant amount of examples in her arsenal, Vint makes a compelling argument that Case’s adventure deals with fulfilling his physical wants and not his technological needs. Overall, I firmly coincide with her argument, considering the fact Case’s expedition was to feed his drug addiction; which can be seen in a number of scenes.

Gibson’s dystopia, Neuromancer, stations a cyberspace cowboy at his lowest moment, a felo de se and a drug addict, still seeking to get back into cyberspace. Immediately, one would consider Case having an ill admiration for technology considering how Gibson shows how pathetic Case is to the fact that he cannot enter cyberspace “he’d cry for it, cry in his sleep”(Gibson, 5). Although one could argue that this instance shows Case’s attachment to technology, one has to acknowledge why he wants to go there in the first place. Aside form the thrill he got “an almost adrenaline high”(Gibson, 5) Case got something in return for his service “ A thief, he’d work for other, wealthier thieves, employers”(Gibson, 5), cash. Finally, one can see that Case cares more for his drugs rather than jacking into cyberspace “You’re biochemically incapable of getting off on amphetamine…. Shit” (Gibson, 36), showing that even though Case will soon be able to enter cyberspace, he still cares about his drugs; the wants of his body. This whole enjoyment of being in cyberspace is only created because at the end of the day Case will be rewarded and get his next pill.

Ultimately, Neuromancer can be seen as a drug addict’s voyage in trying to get his next fix rather than a crazed twenty-four year old obsessed with technology and cyberspace. Still, there are other themes in the novel, except that the addiction to technology seems faulty.

The hypocrisy of Case.

Why does Gibson display Case as a stock character at some instances?

Throughout time people perpetuate an unfortunate truth; hypocrisy, and Gibson’s “androids” follow the same suit. Although the appearance of a hypocritical character may seem overly trite, it compliments a character’s persona, showing a sense of realism. Considering how Gibson’s novel detours his audience from acknowledging that throughout all this technology, the protagonist is still a human being, one has to question how Gibson reminds his reader.  Fortunately, Gibson helps his readers by showcasing human vulnerability.

From the beginning of chapter eighteen, the narrator describes Case’s outlook on the notorious head honchos as “lack of feeling”(203), revealing a sense of contrast between a leader and the worker. From this delivered monologue, Case does not consider himself as an indifferent person, when in fact he fits the same category of these cigarette-hazed men. Once Case talks with Finn, Finn reveals Case’s absence of morality “You wanna get the enzyme”(205) showing that Case cares little for the fact that Armitage died, but that he only cares about his own health. At this instance, Gibson displays the intentions of every character in that they are only out to save themselves and no one else. In other words, they are no different than the so-called totalitarian that barks orders over his staff, caring little if they survive while performing their duties. Furthermore, the shear fact that Case cares little for the details as to why Armitage was meant to die amplify Case’s self-serving attitude. From this outlook, Case diminishes the idea of having any sense of righteousness, since he cares little for the sacrifices made to attain his goal; displaying an antihero. Lastly, it shows that Case is as vile as any other person, but ultimately fails to see it.

Conclusively, though Gibson’s protagonist displays trite qualities, Gibson has reasonable reasons as to why he choses to display Case as such. Not only does it avoid from making Case appear as an unrealistic person, but it also adds a sense of reality in Gibson’s technological cluster.

Neuromancer: Blog #1

How does Gibson demonstrate the omnipotence of technology in his futuristic narrative Neuromancer?

Gibson’s dystopia, Neuromancer, quickly establishes itself as the “ruins” of a technological world by evoking the pungent societal climate in Japan and the qualities of the story’s protagonist, Case. Although some may argue that those examples showcase the influence of technology in the futuristic world, the supremacy of technology is best displayed by the subtle references to technology made in the characters’ dialogue and Gibson’s imagery.

From the beginning of the novel, Gibson quickly intertwines technology as a replacement for nature when describing beauty. This happens as Case describes the attractive aesthetics of his supposed ex-girlfriend Linda Lee “ Her face bathed in restless laser light… mouth touched with hot gold as a gliding cursor struck sparks” (8) displaying the absence of nature when something discussing something as banal as beauty. Furthermore, Case’s statement avoids the trite sceneries of a face bathed in moonlight or sunlight, presenting the ubiquity of technology. In a sense, technology has literally overshadowed nature, since it has overpowered the beams of the moon and sun. Another subtle description appears when Gibson illustrates the decrepit world “The sky above the port was the color of television, tuned to a dead channel” (3), which in a sense flip-flops a conventional comparison one would make (The television was tuned to a dead channel, showing a grey sky). With this being the opening words of the novel, Gibson establishes the position of technology as nature. Furthermore, the reference to the sky being a dead channel sends the message that nature has fallen to this technological world; nature is tuned out.  Lastly, another vital point was when Case ingested a pill and Gibson described the process as “The pill lit his circuits” (19), “innocently” making the human biology seem nothing more than a machine with simple circuitry.

Though the subtle statements are the coup de grace in detailing Gibson’s technological dependent world, the obvious scenes of hackers, cyberspace, coffins, etc.; should not be overlooked, since they add to the mayhem. In retrospect, Gibson’s machination, Neuromancer, exposes the supremacy of technology through understated scenes rather than obvious points.