I am struggling with the question of whether or not to consider the monster evil or not in Frankenstein. When he murdered William, it was not a pre-meditated crime. He simply wanted to “educate him as my companion and friend” (page 159). But, then again, he did not accidently kill William. After William called him an “ogre” and “ugly wretch” the monster came to find out that William’s father was M. Frankenstein. The demon then strangled William to death because he had sworn “eternal revenge” to his creator. While the monster is a murderer, he only kills those who Victor loves: William, Clerval, and Elizabeth. In a bizarre way, this could be considered (a slight stretch) as the monster acting out in adolescent disobedience told his parent. So, should we consider the monster evil? I am not sure. In the end, all he wanted was a mate to be his companion, and promised Victor that he would retire to South Africa- never to cause a problem or be seen again. How would the story differ if Victor had finished the demon’s female mate? Perhaps Victor deserved his fate. He “played God” and created a creature he choose not to accept, and faced dire consequences.
Well, I'll start by agreeing with Caia. I couldn't understand why Frankenstein didn't just make a female companion. It seems like he made things a lot harder on himself. It was obvious that as the monster learned to understand language, like a child, he felt the need for a maternal figure, or a similar companion that would give him an name and identity. On page 121, however, Victor explains his fears: [A] race of devils would be propogated upon the earth, who might make the very existence of the species of man a condition precarious and full of terror. Had I the right, for my own benefit, to influct this curse upon everlasting generations? For having little female power in the form characters (with the exception of Saphie), I found it interesting that the consequences of reproduction (a fears of the power of women), were really what condemned Victor. In the end, the power struggle between the monster and Victor is also turned upside down. The monster says to his creator: "Slave... you are my creator, but I am your master" (123). The monster's language suggests that Victor not only has lost control of his creation, but that its superior nature could wreak havoc on all of mankind. If you look at it this way, you can almost see Victor as a kind of savior, sacrificing his family, but really only after the power switch.
We talked in class about Frankenstein and his major ego issues. He feels bad about making a super-human-like creature that has all of this power. But isn't this what he wanted in the first place? I wonder if Victor's ego is more of an illusion and less of the actual issue. We see his immediate rejection of the monster, and his reluctance to make anymore super humans, which like Dana pointed out, could mean that a whole new race of these monsters could be made and ruled by Frankenstein. At some point, despite his narcissism, do we have to assume that he is just simply appalled by the reality? Has he been so wrapped up in the process that the real result was just too much for him to handle? Or can we look at his failure to create a woman for the monster as something else? I wonder if he is not as confident as he seems and Frankenstein, and his complete withdraw into himself and isolation, almost all the time from other people, is a hint to a more deeply rooted agoraphobic and depressive problem?
Whenever I was reading "Frankenstein" this week, I kept thinking back to the specific passage where Victor imagines a future where "A new species would bless [him] as its creator and source; many happy and excellent natures would owe their being to me"(49). After he meets his father during his imprisonment in Ireland, there appears a slight callback to that moment where Victor pictures himself as a god when he mentions "...wishing for some mighty revolution that might bury me and my destroyer in ruins"(208). An imagined war in which Victor Frankenstein and his army of monsters would take over the world suddenly becomes a horrifying, rather than idealistic notion for Victor due to realizing that his one monster on its own is far too powerful for him to control. I'm curious as to how this theme fits into Heidegger's essay. What appears to be the case is that what Frankenstein's monster "reveals" to Victor is that he is selfish, overemotional, and lacks foresight, revealing Victor's negative qualities to himself through Victor's reactions to his existence. And what about Heidegger's concept of "purpose?" Is the monster simply a thorn in Victor's side? Or do the monster's actions and subsequent hunting down by Victor help validate a prior lack of purpose on behalf of the way in which Victor lived his life?
I found it Heidegger quite difficult to comprehend, but I'm going to take a stab at what questions I came away with. Heidegger says at one point, "In enframing, the unconcealment propriates in conformity with which the work of modern technology reveals the actual as standing-reserve." I'm wondering what these dense words are getting at. Is modern technology viewed as limited revealment? And is modern technology detrimental in comparison to more traditional technology?
As I was reading Frankenstein, I started to wonder why, during Victor's travels, his tale focuses so intently on the beauties of his settings. They talk of the "divine river" and "lovely trees" in comparison to the "majestic" mountains in their homeland (p.176). This continues when Victor talks about the "majestic assemblage of towers, and spires, and domes" that intermingle with the "aged trees" (p.182). At one point, Clerval exlaims that he "could pass [his] life" in Westmoreland (p.183), which makes me question if this was in fact how Victor was telling the story or if this part was another part of Walton's romanticizing of the tale. In my perspective, it was just another time that Walton is putting his two cents in to the story, because of his feelings for Victor. This would have led him to make the beauty of the landscape a more important part of the tale, which would paint Victor in a better light, where as he would not always be in a dreadful mood. Instead he is seen as someone who can relish in the beauty of the scenery.
After completing Frankenstein and reading "The Question Concerning Technology", I was able to relate some of what Heidegger said to the novel. Heidegger states, "The will to mastery becomes all the more urgent the more technology threatens to slip from human control." I could somewhat relate this to the part where Victor decides to destroy what he had created of the monster's mate. Upon thinking about the consequences of this new monster, he realizes that he would not necessarily be able to control, and on top of that, that the original monster may not even be capable of doing so. Victor realized that there was no way he could master this art in such a way that he could control the new being's way of thinking to comply with the original monster's prediction. Realizing this, I believe Victor made the right decision in destroying this project. If any reason was the best reason to not go through with it, I think this is it.Heidegger also states, "In whatever way the destining of revealing may hold sway, the unconcealment in which everything that is shows itself at any given time harbors the danger that man may misconstrue the unconcealed and misinterpret it. Thus where everything that presences exhibits itself in the light of a cause-effect coherence, even God, for representational thinking, can lose all that is exalted and holy, the mysteriousness of his distance."I found this able to be related to the section in the novel where Victor suddenly is disgusted by his creature. He once believed that such a new being would be perfect, so this thought held some sort of strong emotion within him, but when he discovered the truth of what his creation was, it lost "all that is exalted and holy", as Heidegger states.
I suppose one of my questions, upon reading the Heidegger essay, which which I am still grappling, is this: should we consider Frankenstein's monster itself as a technology, or should we consider it the result of the technology of life-giving that Frankenstein develops, or am I creating a false distinction between the two? When he fantasizes about creating the thing, Frankenstein could be said to view it as a kind of "standing-reserve," a potential source of slave labor and aggrandizing worship ("Dr. Doom's robot army" as Prof. Johns might say); has he therefore "enframed" it into a role and blinded himself from the "primal truth" that might be found in his creation? Is this why he is so horrified, because the truths his technology reveals to him are not the truths he wanted? He wanted the kinds of truths that the mines Heidegger mentions at the beginning of his essay, but he ends up with a misshapen creature with its own desires and massive existential crisis that he simply can't deal with. Is the monster's condition itself the "primal truth" of the human condition (or rather, the condition of sapient beings generally), or is the carnage the monster creates the real truth?
After finishing up reading the letters Walton was sending to his sister, I couldn’t help but think, “So what has Walton learned from all of this?” For Victor Frankenstein, I’m not totally sold that he fully comprehends all of the aspects of his creation. He goes from creating something he considered beautiful to being horrified at his creation. After he hears the story, he no longer sees his creation as a monster, but something to be pitied for how he left him helpless. And after he denies the monster a female partner, he returns to identifying his creation as a wretched monster. It makes me feel sorry for the monster that humans could carelessly create something with the promise of power, only to allow it to wreak havoc because it doesn’t know anything else. Sure, Walton leaves this novel a wiser man, but he didn’t achieve slaying the monster for the man who he identified as being noble. The monster still leaves only with the idea that he was persecuted and a victim. Victor portrayed himself as the tragic hero up until his last breath. Mary Shelley doesn’t present characters who achieve sublimity. Why is that?
What interested me the most in our portion of reading was the compassion/emotions that the monster experiences when he conveys his experiences to Frankenstein. This could be an interesting approach to one of the prompts that we can attempt for our Thursday blog post. I feel that the emotions that the monster experiences contributes to his humanistic characteristics. Any creature can learn and adapt to an environment or situation, but can any creature experience beauty? Does this mean that he is human? This is up for interpretation, but it gives us an interesting angle to discussing this prompt/question. He does have a very beastly and gruesome appearance, but is emotions would be socially acceptable.
In response to what Caia said, I've read this multiple times and I still struggle with this every single time I come back to it. Ultimately, I always reach the same conclusion, but the arguments that swirl in my head in relation to it are always revived and evolve with the class and age I read Frankenstein. On one hand, you can believe that the creature is a monster in the most hideous sense of the term simply because of the language that paints him. To counter that argument however, (and this is not something that I noticed until this time I read the novel) the language that Shelley uses in Walton's retelling of Frankenstein's narrative is clearly favoring Frankenstein because of Walton's homosexual feelings towards Frankenstein. So of course Walton is going to paint the creature in a most horrific light. Another, and completely separate, point to consider is the monster's actions, as Caia stated, the monster has pre-meditated actions that are obviously harmful to others, the first and most glaring being the murder of William. However, he was never properly introduced into society or comprehensibly and mentally raised in any formal civilization. His mind developed into adulthood rapidly and without any introduction, nearly whatsoever, into the society. By not being introduced into society, he missed out on learning the societal norms and what is considered right and wrong. This is not inherently programmed into our brains at birth, it is something we learn and acquire over time. There is a reason our parents put us in a time out when we hit our siblings or wash our mouths out with soap when we say a curse word in public at a young age. This is because they are trying to engrain in us from the beginning what is right and wrong, through corrective behavioral measures. While these are minute, and in the creature's case seemingly obsolete, examples, they (hopefully) get my point across. Which is, although it seems like second nature to us not to act out of anger and frustration in irreparable measures, for the creature, it was a matter of trial and error as society rejected a fully grown man for both his appearance and his behavior.Another thing to think about is this, and we've all heard this question in relation to the novel, Frankenstein, on countless occasions, particularly as it pertains to what degree the creature is evil: who is the real monster in this story: Victor or the creature?I personally feel as though Victor is the monster, and the creature the hero, per se. The creature was brought into this world on somebody else's own accord. He didn't ask to be created like this, nor at all, frankly. But he was, and on top of the obvious physical handicaps he has to overcome (the physical handicaps being his stature and appearance which automatically frighten those around him), he must also overcome the rejection of his father and mother (in this case the terms are synonymous), he must endure the rejection of the creator who brought him into this world to begin with. And Victor is too cowardice to step up to the plate and take true responsibility for his actions and raise the creature like he intended to do in the first place. Or at least we can only assume that he intended to raise him after creating him, as that is the role of the parent, the creator and the guardian to raise the child. So who do I think is the monster and who is the hero? Victor and the creature, respectively.
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