Friday, January 18, 2013

Weekly Response to Frankenstein and Heidegger (week 2)

Remember - post your short Wednesday responses (not your full-length Thursday essays) as comments to this post.


Taylor Hochuli said...

I’ll begin my entry at the end of the book during the continuation of the story by Walton. When his men threaten mutiny and request that Walton turns back, Frankenstein lurks out of the corner urging the men to move forward. He tries to rally the men to pursue a dangerous course for the danger and the courage of facing it. Yet in his own life, Frankenstein cursed himself pursuing something similar. In the beginning, Frankenstein specifically says, “You seek for knowledge and wisdom as I once did; and I ardently hope that the gratification of your wishes may not be a serpent to sting you, as mine have been” and that, “I reflect that you are pursuing the same course.” Has Frankenstein not learned the moral lesson from his own story? He continues to push the crew to continue their journey and tries to pursue his monster when they decide to abandon the voyage, when challenges like this were what got him into this debacle. Perhaps it is a testament to the character of Frankenstein to constantly pursue danger via the Arctic and his monster, but one would think that he would heed the lesson of his story like Walton does when he accepts the request to journey back out of the Arctic.

I also noticed that the character of Ernest just drops out of the book with no warning and found that to be odd. After the death of Elizabeth, Frankenstein rushes home in fear that, “[his] father even now might be writhing under [the monster’s] grasp, and Ernest might be dead at his feet.” Frankenstein arrives home to find out that they are okay until his father becomes ill and dies. Then, Frankenstein finally tells the authorities of the monster and proceeds to wander a great distance. There is nothing stating the fate of his last loved one. He instead becomes inconsolable about his other dead friends and family without protecting or acknowledging his own brother. The last reference of Ernest in the book is that his is alive upon Frankenstein’s return. I do not know if this is a purposeful omission from the book or what the fate of Ernest is implied to be.

Finally, I noticed a connection between Frankenstein and his monster. Frankenstein is constantly miserable while thinking the monster is always happily haunting him and killing everyone close to him. The monster on the other hand, is always miserable about his loneliness and hates his master for having these friends and family, but not loving him. Each hates the other and thinks that they are happy at the other’s expense. Both characters also continue to harm one another with Frankenstein refusing the request to make Frankenstein a bride and the monster, well, killing everyone close to Frankenstein. It truly makes two deep rivals that both have motives for hating the other with a “the grass is always greener on the other side of the fence” twist to their loathing.

Janine Talis said...

A big detail about the book of Frankenstein as a whole that has always bothered me in the inconsistencies in character attitudes. We are aware of Frankenstein's mood swings, but the other characters display their own level of bipolar-ness as well. "How inconstant are your feelings?" (165). Justine goes from desiring to clear her name to accepting death. The monster goes through periods of intellectual, calm conversation that is stained by random moments of rage. Even Elizabeth upon Justine's execution gives up on seeing life as good, but later on in the novel, seems back to her normal, angelic self. "...but now misery has come home, and men appear to me as monsters thirsting for each other's blood." (97). Why are emotions in the novel so exaggerated?

Another thing I would like to bring up is a specific quote: "God, in pity, made man beautiful and alluring, after his own image; but my form is a filthy type of yours..." (145). Is Shelley trying to say that the monster reflects what is inside of Frankenstein, or perhaps inside all of humanity? Are we not living up to God's image?

Brian DeWillie said...

You mentioned in class about how Victor seemed to be subconsciously trying to get away from Elizabeth because he really didn't want to marry her. After reading the second half of the book, I'm not sure that I completely agree with that.

"Sweet and beloved Elizabeth! I read and re-read her letter and some softened feelings stole into my heart and dared to whisper paradisiacal dreams of love and joy;... Yet I would die to make her happy." (p. 217)

After he receives Elizabeth's letter he goes home to Geneva after about a week to marry her and when he was with her his mood improved. "Elizabeth alone had the power to draw me from these fits; her gentle voice would soothe me when transported by passion, and inspire me with human feelings when sunk in torpor." I am inclined to believe that Victor truly wanted to be with Elizabeth in order to try to obtain happiness out of life. On the other hand, I do still see his subconscious leading him to the wedding because he knows that the monster said he will be with him on his wedding night. He thinks the monster will just kill him, but either way, it could still be his subconscious trying to get out of marrying Elizabeth.

Karen Knutson said...

First off, I was watching Once Upon a Time this week and the episode was focused around their version of Victor Frankenstein (I thought it was a fun coincidence). Anyways, the monster's progression to become a vengeful being that only wants to destroy his creator's life and I noticed how many times chains were used in this last half. I believe it was mainly used with Victor, and for me it really begin to represent the "Prometheus Punishment" phase of the novel. This becomes especially prevalent when Victor, "dared to shake off my chains and look around me with a free and lofty spirit, but the iron had eaten my flesh, and I sank back again, trembling and hopelessness, into my miserable self (66 percent into the novel). Now if that doesn't scream prometheus then I do not know what does.

Also, the other text is still a pain, and I believe that f you cannot write in a communicable way, then its no wonder why readers don't understand. If I wrote a scientific paper like that in my later life, I would be fired. I don't think I'll understand how philosophy gets away with it. Also when he is talking about revealing and technology, does he mean that we are reveling the craft of our mind? He also is saying that both regular technology and modern technology is a "revealing," and I still find his definition of modern vs regular technology to be vague, because what is modern really just depends on the time period. Computers may seem archaic one day.

Ben Nemeth said...

There are a few questions that come from reading Frankenstein which I feel have debatable answers. The most interesting one in my mind is, "Was Frankenstein right in refusing to create a mate for the monster?" The monster's flowery speech and seemingly misunderstood origin story allow us to sympathize with him, but I don't think that invalidates Victor's points that the monster is quick to anger and isn’t guaranteed success with another of his kind. It's possible that this rejection would be the monster's last straw. And if the monster does succeed and procreates, then what guarantees the safety of the human race from future generations of monster? Even if the monster were benevolent, his mate and potential offspring aren’t bound by the same promises as he is, and Victor’s concern should be for his species first.

Another interesting concept to me is the similarity of Frankenstein and his monster. Both exhibit serious bi-polar behaviors evident in their mood swings, both believe that a female counterpart is the solution to their depression, both are revenge driven upon being denied the happiness they want, etc. It’s interesting because in the biblical creator-creation dynamic, the creator makes the creation “in his own image,” and it was good. A benevolent god made Adam out of love and gave him instructions on how to live his life happily and he was happy. In the novel, Frankenstein creates the monster out of his own obsession and gives his creation no instructions for happiness. He instead reacts in fear and then in anger and later we see the monster do the same. It's clear through their shared emotions that the monster, aside from his outward ugliness, is made in the image of his creator as well.

Roger Sepich said...

After I finished the book, I found myself slightly disappointed by the ending. I was convinced halfway through the book that there would be an action-packed finale that would help us understand Walton’s story as much Frankenstein’s, but in fact the book just ended with Victor dying and Walton hearing the monster’s side of the story.

But once I thought about it, I realized that Shelley probably intended this novel to be more about the monster’s plight than either Walton’s or Victor’s. By ending with what is essentially a long soliloquy from the monster, she leaves the reader thinking the most about how he was affected by the book’s events. “You, who call Frankenstein your friend, seem to have a knowledge of my crimes and his misfortunes,” the monster says. “But in the detail which he gave you of them he could not sum up the hours and months of misery which I endured, wasting in impotent passions” (Shelley 256-257). I read this as just as much Shelley’s voice as the monster’s. While both the reader and Walton have come to care about Victor’s tale, both likely ignored the pain and anguish the self-loathing, abhorrent monster felt from the time it was created. Thus, I believe the author’s main intended theme of the book was for great accomplishments – scientific, technological, athletic, etc. – to be admired, but not at the expense of those who suffer as a result of such successes.