Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Prompt 3: Frankenstein and the Human

Is the Monster Human?
By: Joe Hastings

                As humans, it is easy to see that we differ greatly from other mammals, but what exactly are those characteristics that separate us? Simply looking up what a human is in the dictionary gives an answer that a being a human means; of pertaining to, characteristic of, or having the nature of people. This definition is just too broad to go off of. Doing a bit more research and using some help from the great philosopher, Aristotle, one can find that the definition of a human is much more complex. Aristotle stated that the definition of being a human should have something general and something specific in it. The general part is as simple as, humans are rational animals. This is true, but when looking at the more specific part of the definition, being a human is much deeper. It is thought that humans are self-aware social mammals generally possessing the ability to reason, speak, and use complex tools, but at the same time, being limited in knowledge, prone to error, and mortal. Thinking about this definition, it is clear to believe that the monster, Frankenstein should be considered a human.
                In the book “Frankenstein”, Dr. Frankenstein makes the monster by building a human using all the necessary body parts and organs from already dead human beings. When Frankenstein comes to life he is basically a baby, only he is an eight foot tall baby. When Dr. Frankenstein runs away at the sight of his monster, Frankenstein is left on his own and needs to fend of himself. Frankenstein needs to teach himself how to walk, run, speak, eat, and just about every other natural human function that everyone develops how to do over their lifetime. Soon Frankenstein is successful in doing all of these functions by watching and learning from other humans. Frankenstein learns how to do most of the human functions when he stays by the cottage. It is here that Frankenstein learns to read and even speak, which will be very helpful for the monster. At this point, the monster can walk, run, speak, read, and even use tools. The monster starts to cut wood and leave it by the front door during the night. The reason why he cuts the wood seems more important to why Frankenstein is a human however. Frankenstein has emotions, a very important part in being a human.
                At the point in the book when Frankenstein is staying at the cottage in the woods, he knows what it feels like to be sad, angry, confused, and even regretful to just name a couple emotions. When Dr. Frankenstein deserts Frankenstein, the monster gets angry and has nowhere to go. As Frankenstein goes into villages, village people chase him out immediately, making him feel very sad and neglected. Sad and angry are two extremely simple emotions, but when the monster starts stealing food from the cottage and he sees the effect of it on the family he feels regretful and knows he needs to do something to fix what he has done. As was stated earlier, one of the many things that make humans, human is that everyone is prone to error. In such a short time, Frankenstein has been through what many people go through in many years as a human.

                Just from reading the first half of “Frankenstein” it is clear to understand that the monster is truly a human after all. When looking at the details, the monster possesses qualities that make everyone human, and he even taught himself most things without much help from others. When Frankenstein first came to life he was just like a baby only he appeared to be grown up from the normal view. Frankenstein the taught himself to walk, run, speak, eat, works, and he even gained emotions along the way. Frankenstein has the abilities to reason, speak, use tools, and at the same time he is very limited in knowledge, and even prone to error. Humans are constantly learning and adapting and Frankenstein does not differ. Just from researching a definition of what a human is, it is clear that Frankenstein or the monster is actually just human and nothing less. 


Ronald Rollins said...

Not bad. One thing I'd flesh out more is the wide spectrum of emotions and feelings the monster experiences. While his search for happiness and perpetual agony is definitely a large aspect of the story, the monster's inquisitiveness is one thing that really makes him feel like one of us. A dog is sad and angry when it's kicked, and happy when it's given a treat, but one major characteristic that distinguishes it from humans is that dogs have little to no interest in trying to make sense of human books, communication, or behaviors. His experience residing near the cottage really emphasizes this and--if you do a revision of this essay--I think it'd be good to work some examples of that in.

Adam said...

While your definition is hardly without difficulties, it is certainly better than most (because of your recognition, following Aristotle, that you need both some general and something specific). I do wonder what drew you to Aristotle, though.

Note: it's not at all clear from the text that the monster was assembled from dead body parts - read the relevant passages again. This is where popular culture intrudes on people's reading.

The monster is not named Frankenstein - that makes your essay hard to read.

The third and fourth paragraphs work on a very general level. You don't cite any passages, you don't engage with any of the complexities of the novel. You don't say anything in particular about how the monster reacts in any situation; you don't show how and why, for instance, we might question his humanity, and why we should get through those initial doubts. In other words, this is a vague and shallow reading, with a bloated introduction and conclusion, with no real work with the text.