Thursday, January 12, 2012

Blog #1, Promp #1

Fra­nkenstein is considered a multifaceted book; however many times the theory of it is human nature to seek out relationships is over looked. Expanding on this theory, the lack of a stable relationship in one’s life will cause that person to become delirious and out of touch with reality.

This is evident when Victor leaves his family behind and starts his studies at the University of Ingolstadt. He decides to envelope himself with his study, and does not make friends or build any real relationships with the students or professors at the university. As time passes he starts to neglect his own family back home, Clerval even exclaims to Victor when taking care of him that his family is “uneasy at [Victor’s] long silence” (p. 60). Without having any type of relationship to keep him grounded in reality, he starts to obsess over the idea of creating “the great object” which turns out to, as far as we have read, destroy his life (p.51). The sickness becomes ever graver when the beast of which he created comes to life; for now he has nothing to obsess over any longer. Luckily for him, his friend Clerval comes to the University to start his studies, and thus providing an anchor for Victor’s sanity. Instantly, Victor’s focus upon seeing Clerval is upbeat and full of joy, stating “It gives me the greatest delight to see you”. The depiction of showing an old friend nursing him back to life, and is showing the potency one relationship can have upon someone’s life.

If the preface is also analyzed, we see that Walton often is sending letters to his sister. This is important because he keeps these letters going up until he finds a new friend in Victor. This symbolizes his ability to hold on and keep himself sane on a trip to the North Pole, whilst not having much relationship at all. When he meets Victor and befriends him, this allows him to talk to his sister less, because he has a relationship of his own with someone new.

Looking at the Frankenstein family as a whole, we can see the effects of losing close relationships when the different members of the family die off. Before William was murdered and Justine was sentenced to death, Victor was told in a letter that “you will find a happy, cheerful home” (p.62). Note here that the family as a whole still has strong bonds of family relationships and has not been destroyed in the least bit. However, when William was murdered and Justine was suspected of being the murder, the family is hit with a double whammy. Their beloved child has been removed, and thus devastating them, plus Justine is now viewed as having “depravity and ingratitude” (p.81). It quite literally throws the whole house hold into shambles, even when Victor has come how. People may argue that this has nothing to do with relationships but more so that they are devastated by losing a member of their family. This is partially true, but having a relationship with someone is that of investing your trust and love into that person. Therefore, when someone either dies or revokes your trust in some way, you are in essence losing a relationship that has been built.

The most sustainable evidence for this theory in the book is the words of Frankenstein’s monster. When he was created he just a “poor wretch” (p.117), however through his travels he finally finds something more. When he is sitting outside of the cottage listening to these strangers he finds something in himself. He develops an odd sense of a relationship. As he goes out and collects fire wood for his new companions he “observes with pleasure” the woman’s reaction (p.121). He views within that cottage, something more than just his life, but that of love and kindness which are associated with relationships we all strive for. Unfortunately for this monster, he sees “ bliss, from which [he] is alone” (p.107).


Margaret Julian said...

I think that this is a really interesting way to evaluate the story. Frankenstein does indeed find value in the relationships he observes. Thus far however we have not found him in a relationship. If it is in our nature to seek them, then why does he not have one? If he can't form a relationship that is reciprocal does that say something about the nature of the monster or the nature of humans?

Adam said...

There are two things I like here, at the core of the essay.

First, while the argument that human nature is defined through human relationships might be somewhat obvious (although what a human relationship *is*, as opposed to, say, a monstrous relationship or an animal relationship, is far less clear, at least to me), it is an interesting idea which *is* at the heart of the novel - it might *just* be a starting point, but it's certainly a good one.

Second, you are beginning to grapple with the fact that we need to deal with the monster if we want to deal with the novel's interest in both connectivity and isolation.

But you deal with him so briefly! And yet, if we're really interested in what *lack* of relationships does, he's a much better example than Victor. For instance, should we define him as inhuman precisely because he has no reciprocal relationships (to pick up from Margaret's line of inquiry)? If so, what does it mean that ultimately we define him as inhuman because people don't like him?

In other words, dealing with the monster in far more detail would let you explore everything which is interesting, difficult, and disturbing about defining humanity in terms of connectivity or relationships - I'd like to see the monster far more front-and-center in this essay.