The Nature of the Monster by mikesanye


									The Nature of the Creature
"Once I falsely hoped to meet with beings, who, pardoning my outward form, would love
me for the excellent qualities which I was capable of unfolding. . . . But now crime has
degraded me beneath the meanest animal. No guilt, no mischief, no malignity, no misery,
can be found comparable to mine. . . . The fallen angel becomes a malignant devil."
                                                              -Frankenstein, the final letter
The Creature’s
The Namelessness of the Creature
   • Popular misconception: Frankenstein is the
     creature’s name
      – Monster does not actually have a name
   • Namelessness encapsulates problem the
     creature poses to Victor and reader
      – Nameless = soulless?
      – Person, or thing?
         • Frankenstein decides it to be a ‘thing’.
   • Namelessness symbolises lack of social
      – Inability to fit into society, among people
The Power of a Name
  • There is symbolism/ceremony in a name
     – Adam naming all animals in Creation made
       him a partner in creation with God
     – Furthermore, the gaining of authority over the
     – Naming also implies belonging
  • Without a name, the Creature does not
     – Already ambiguous nature made more
        • Ambiguous: Creature is a mix of animal and human
The Dark Mirror of Humanity
  • There is a sense the Creature cannot be
    rejected by Society
     – It encompasses all Humanity
  • Creature as a dark mirror of humanity
     – Imperfections and perversions mixed in with
       beauty and purity of heart
  • It not only directly reflects humanity
     – Also forces others to behave in a way that
       showcases their inner monstrosities
     – Questions the right of humanity to judge
Knowledge and
The Horror of Knowing
  • The sting of social rejection made more intense to
    Creature, with gaining of knowledge
  • Intelligent monster is more horrifying/aberrant
    than a mere monster
     – Gaining of knowledge only serves to make Creature
       more grotesque
         • To Victor, and to himself
  • Reader no longer able to disown Creature like
    Victor did
     – With form, sentience and intelligence, Creature is alive
       and human like them
     – Horror in the reader lies in being forced to accept
       Creature as someone like himself
The Complicity of the Reader
  • Mary Shelley forces reader to join in the
    rejection of Creature
     – Reader refers to Creature by whatever name Victor
       chooses to call it
         • Uncertain status
  • Involves all readers with Victor and the
     – To sympathise with Creature is to identify self with
       Creature’s namelessness
     – To sympathise with Victor is to identify self with his
A Quotation from Genesis

  And the woman said unto the serpent, We may eat
  of the fruit of the trees of the garden: But of the
  fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the
  garden, God hath said, Ye shall not eat of it,
  neither shall ye touch it, lest ye die.

  And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not
  surely die: For God doth know that in the day ye
  eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye
  shall be as gods, knowing good and evil.

                                     Genesis 3:2-5
Victor’s Fear of an Equal
• Horror felt by Victor (and thus the reader) has roots in
   – Victor saw himself as a new God
   – Biblical fear of creation becoming as the Creator
   – ‘Ye shall become as gods’
• Fear comes true as Creature begins using knowledge
  to usurp Victor’s ascendancy
   – ‘Remember that 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!’ (III.iii)
• Symbolised in the narrative, as Creature and Victor
  vie to be the protagonist/narrator
   – And also relegate the other to an antagonistic role
 The Creature and the
Monster in Frankenstein
Who is the Frankenstein Monster?
   • Victor disgusted by Creature because of its
      – Perverse use of its knowledge
      – Usurpation of his position as Master and God
          • Lucifer: ‘I will ascend into Heaven, I will exalt my
            throne above the stars of God…I will be like the Most
            High.’ (Isaiah 14: 13-14)
          • Creature: You are my creator, but I am your master;
      – A sense that Creature appears Satanic to Victor for that
   • Yet Victor no different from Creature
      – Also gains knowledge, and uses it to usurp place of God
        and womanhood
      – Supplanting natural reproduction, stealing the ‘fire’ of
The Monster: Everyone?
  • Creature and Humanity no different from
    one another
     – They have imperfections
     – They fear the unknown
         • Even Victor fears his own creation
  • Creature was made to be humanly perfect
     – ‘His limbs were perfect, and I had selected his features
       as beautiful’
     – Made in Victor’s own image
     – Grotesque twisting of the Genesis creation of Man
  • To call Creature a monster would be to call
    oneself a monster
The Monster: No One?
  • Intentions of all characters began good
     – Victor: to unlock the secret of life, for
       knowledge and to take away death
     – Monster: to make friends, to find family, and
  • Only the results came out awry
     – Victor: as result of own tragic flaw
     – Monster: as result of society’s and Victor’s
  • No ‘monster’ per se, as none started evil
The Monster: Victor Frankenstein?
   • Tried to take the powers of God without
     accepting its responsibilities
      – Abandoned his own child to the world and
        rejected it
      – Denied it love
   • Destroyed the Creature’s only avenue of
     hope for acceptance and love
      – Condemned a once-sinless innocent
      – Corrupted it into the monster it eventually
The Monster: Victor Frankenstein?
 •   Victor regarding the Creature at his feet just before animation
      – ‘With an anxiety that almost amounted to agony, I collected
        the instruments of life around me, that I might infuse a
        spark of being into the lifeless thing that lay at my feet.’

 •   The Creature returning the favour just after animation
      – ‘I started from my sleep in horror…by the dim and yellow
         light of the moon…I beheld the wretch…He held up the
         curtain of the bed; and his eyes…were fixed on me.’ (I.v)

 •   The final looking over
      – ‘I entered the cabin, where lay…my friend. Over him hung
        a form…gigantic in stature, yet uncouth and distorted in its
        proportions. (Walton’s final letter)
 • Victor Frankenstein has symbolically become the
   abhorrent, lifeless Monster he created
The Monster: The Creature?
  • Similarity to Loki, Norse god of mischief
     – Also a giant
     – Took pleasure in hurting
  • Creature’s definition of ‘mischief’
    identical to Loki’s
     – Framing Justine
     – Baiting Victor and playing with him
  • Inspires horror and revulsion among
    everyone he meets
     – Physically abhorrent
The Monster: The Creature?
  • Despite fulfilling criteria of Gothic
    monster, the Creature departs from it in
    key ways
     – It has a conscience
        • Even to the end, it does not take pleasure in what it
        • It is capable of remorse and repentance
     – It began as an innocent, good-natured creature
    The Creature:
A Personality Analysis
A Creature with a Conscience
  • The Creature is fundamentally good-
  • Sought the sublime
     – Revelling in the beauty of nature
     – Allowing beauty to soothe one’s own ugliness
        • Contrast with his murder of William
        • Marring beauty with one’s own ugliness
  • Regretted his actions at the end, hurting
    self as much as he hurt others
     – Walton’s final letter
        • Title slide quotation
A Peace-Loving Vegetarian
  • The Creature is never shown eating meat
     – Eats only berries and acorns when in nature
     – Even in civilisation, only ate bread, cheese and milk
     – In harmony with nature, but rejected by humanity
         • What does this say about humanity?
         • Mankind the Unnatural? Is Mankind the true Monster?
  • Sought a mate only for a peaceful family
     – The horror felt by the reader at this request is a result of
       Victor’s revulsion and Creature’s frustration and pain
       colouring it
     – In itself, the act is not something disgusting or
Fundamentally Good
  • Does not hurt others on purpose
     – Stops stealing food after realising victims were
     – Even tries to help ease their lives by finding
       wood for them, etc
        • Natural empathy for what he perceives as his fellow
          man and sufferer in the world
  • Loves nature and rejoices in it
     – Retreats into nature to forget own abhorrence
Desirous of Social Acceptance
  • The Creature desires to master language
    for communication
     – ‘This was indeed a godlike science, and I ardently
       desired to become acquainted with it.’ (II.iv)
  • Had hopes that with language, humankind
    would accept him as one of them
     – ‘I formed in my imagination a thousand pictures of
       presenting myself to them, and their reception of me. I
       imagined that they would be disgusted, until, by my
       gentle demeanour and conciliating words, I should first
       win their favour, and afterwards their love.’ (II.iv)
Profoundly Alone
 • ‘Satan had his companions, fellow-devils, to admire and
   encourage him; but I am solitary and abhorred.’
 • Abandoned by all who know him because of his
     – Victor Frankenstein
     – The de Laceys
     – Is even disgusted by his own appearance as reflected in
         • Grotesque twisting of the Narcissus myth
 • The only one who befriends him did not know him
     – Old de Lacey was blind and could not see him
 • Spends all the rest of his life away from humanity
     – Travels in wildernesses
     – Forces Victor to isolate himself to suffer with him
A Fallen Angel
  • Like Victor, the Creature goes down the path of
    no return
     – Began with good intentions, corrupted slowly into evil
  • The Creature begins his fall with his loss of
     – A direct result of his learning of language
  • Began killing unknowingly
     – Accidentally strangled William when trying to quieten
     – Only gained the fiendish delight of killing when he saw
       William’s corpse
  • Ended by killing to cause hurt
     – Outlet for venting frustration and hatred of Victor
The Role of the
A Pandora Equivalent
  • Pandora sent by Zeus to punish Prometheus’
    hubris through the suffering of his creation, Man
     – Unwittingly unleashing all manner of evils upon them
       through her box of ‘gifts’
  • Likewise Creature’s learning of language
    unwittingly unleashes all manner of evils
     – First, frustration at not being accepted even with
     – Second, hatred of Victor for creating, then abandoning
       him to this fate
     – Third, his hounding of Victor and violent bloodshed
  • The gift of language punishes Victor’s hubris
    through his creation
Warning of the Dangers of Science
    • "I think that the popular culture story of Frankenstein can
      really be reduced to two simple sentences, "‘It’s alive’ and
      ‘It’s escaped.’ I think those are the two key features of the
      myth--you’ve created something, new life, but you cannot
      control it."
             • Susan Lederer, Professor, History of Science, Yale

    • The Creature as living criticism of science
        – Illustrates the consequences of hubris
    • A demand for responsibility and ethics in science
    • The Creature as something completely new,
      ‘alternate’, and unknown
        – Central characteristic of science-fiction
The End

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