Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Blog 2: Prompt 2 Contradictions in Frankenstein

Throughout the novel Shelley sets up a character who is so far removed from regular society that a common man could not even imagine trying to relate to him.  Born of wealthy parents with large influence, it is easy to assume that when compared to a middle class man, there would be striking differences in terms of personality and demeanor.  However Shelley uses this character, with all his social and financial privileges, to illustrate that no matter what class or position you are in society, the core of a man will always be like that of a child.  There are many passages that allude to the various ways in which the many characters of the book act like children such as the way they judge others, whether it be by appearance or class, or how the ownership of people through marriage or servitude is a childish pursuit.  One of the main ways she makes this point is via the use of the fickleness which Frankenstein displays throughout the novel when trying to place  responsibility on someone for the deaths that occur in the novel.  He argues his guilt and soon later argues against it, constantly changing his mind.  It is in this way that she critically reveals the childishness of Frankenstein despite his class and position.  

He first blames himself upon reflection of William’s death and Justine’s inevitable prosecution.   He grieves "…I was the cause!  A thousand times rather would I have confessed myself guilty of the crime ascribed to Justine but I was absent when it was committed and such a declaration would have been considered as the ravings of a madman” (83).   He feels remorse for the unjust death of his brother William and trial of the servant Justine.  He argues his is responsible for their death because he, due to his unchecked curiosity and drive, created a monster who took the life of those near and dear to him.  However shortly after when confronted with the monster itself he screams, “do you not fear the vengeance of my arms wreaked on your miserable head?…I could with the extinction of your miserable existence restore those victims whom you have so diabolically murdered” (106).  Victor then goes to alleviate himself of all responsibility and guilt when he blames the monster for the murders that have occurred.  He, when finds something easier, or more palatable to his concious, chooses that in order to feel as though he did no crime at all.  This cannot be more reasonably explained as a lapse of judgement after being faced with his creation after many years for time and time again he goes through the cycle of blaming himself and then when he finds it suitable, blames the monster.  After learning of Elizabeth’s death he once again begins to repent.  He reflects, “I murdered her. William, Justine, and Henry - They all died by my hands” (206).  He once again takes upon the responsibility of their deaths when he has nothing else to blame in his state of grief.  However when once again looks at his lifeless wife, he recounts the Monster and once again blames him when he says that “The death of William, the execution of Justine, the murder of Clerval and lastly my wife…I knew not that my remaining friends were safe from the malignity of the fiend” (227).  He goes through the motions of this argument so frequently and mechanically one can’t help not to notice the childishness in his behavior.  

The lack of maturity in Victor is clearly visible when he constantly contradicts his own arguments incessantly.  He does not take responsibility of his actions nor does he try to prevent the monster from more destruction.  This childish passiveness ultimately leads to his demise which serves a warning to man.  "...Our infantine dispositions, which, however they may be afterwards modified, are never eradicated; and they can judge of our actions with more certain conclusions as to the integrity of our motives" (245).


Joseph Hastings said...

From reading your post, I have a couple concerns. You have a great argument for your prompt, however one thing I felt you could have done a little better on is analyzing what the argument means. You have plenty of knowledge and examples from the book to back up your argument, now you just need to state what the contradictions in Victor's argument mean.
Also reading your prompt confused me at times with run on sentences here and there. This is a great start and may be a good revision.

Adam said...

You don't actually say a lot in the first paragraph. Frankenstein is fickle and we might, therefore, consider him to be childish. Why so long to say so little?

I like the detail when you go through the shifts in Frankenstein's point of view. There are more, of course, but it's hardly necessary to go through all of them. But there's something odd going on here - you assemble a nest of contradictions, go through some of the work of analyzing why he says what he says when he says it, but then chalk it all up to childishness. I think you do a perfectly good job of illustrating some of the complexities of his character - but then you reduce it to simplicity again. Or to put it another way - you *seem* to be articulating something about Victor Frankenstein's shifts from grief and shame to rage and back again. It's not even that I think he *isn't* childish, necessarily - I just don't see childishness as real explanation for the cycle of grief and rage that you're talking about.

Notes: You want paragraphs. A hollow introduction and conclusion, with all of the content wedged between them, doesn't help you any. A better structure can help develop a better argument.

Overall: Despite a dubious intro and conclusion, you unpack some interesting details of the text - but then you almost gesture them away, which is too easy.