Friday, September 6, 2013

Questions/Comments on Frankenstein and/or Zork, day 2

Post your questions/thoughts as comments to this post.  Again:  a paragraph is fine, or a couple if you feel so moved.  You are posting on a question, problem or topic of your choice.  Citing a particular passage is recommended but not required.

19 comments:

Adam Lewis said...

I was almost ready to throw this novel across the room the more I read. Post monster encounter in a mountain cave, Victor's passivity to his dire circumstance is just maddening. The encounter with William and the framing of Justine were, by the creature's tale, a chance happening and were not premeditated as we were led to believe (or at least as I was led to believe); however, in the aftermath the brute has obviously realized just how much pain and anguish he can inflict on Victor, hence the blackmail attempt. Even after all of this, Victor some how convinces himself, twice!, that it won't actually happen. How can someone be so utterly convinced that the charmed life is only a hope away under these factors? I am not saying that he should have gone through with the creation of another being, but after delaying a number of days and discarding his foul work off the island where he attempted to complete it, he resolves to stay out on the boat and eventually falls asleep (196). He knows that a being, monstrous and fully capable of murder and vengeance that has stalked him all the way to England, is back on the path of revenge and he takes a nap! There is no guarantee that he could have saved Clerval if he moved immediately, but why would he resolve to leave two days later and allow himself to fall asleep on a boat when an extremely agile and fast killer has sworn vengeance and knows where his best friend is?

That was bad enough, but the murder of Elizabeth is really what risked my book becoming airborne. The monster has made it pretty clear that he does not seek the life of Victor, but rather to make his life miserable (106 & 191-192). Despite this, he leaves Elizabeth alone and unguarded thinking the brute will surely come after him. Apparently, he could not figure out that his creation desired his suffering not his death.

Adam Lewis said...

I'm not even sure where to start with prompt 3. It isn't that I don't have enouth material, quite the opposite, I have too much material to pick just one change! I suppose this is a good problem to have.

Carl Santavicca said...

I wanted to expand on one of the topics that was covered in the first question/ comments section on Frankenstein as well as in class discussions; that is the concept of justice in Frankenstein especially in relation to social status. Someone had brought up that the trial of Justine was frustrating because of her coerced confession. Upon completion of the book and comparing the Trial of Justine to that of Victor I find Frankenstein even more frustrating. As we saw with the trial of Justine, justice was swift as if the authorities just wanted to pin the murder on someone. We also saw that she had a lack of character witnesses, most of those who were close to her did not step up and testify to her moral character. Whereas when Victor was charged of the same crime he was provided a fair trial and witnesses, who were also complete strangers, to provide possible alibis for Victor. He was ultimately released when his Daddy showed up to bail him out despite his self condemning rantings:"Two I have already destroyed; other victims await their destiny.."(Shelly 202) I cannot think this was in somehow related to their appearance and social status. Did Victor receive preferential treatment because of who he was and how much money he was worth? How is this any different from the justice system today with coerced confessions of the innocent because they cannot afford proper legal representation, or how celebrities seem to be able to get away with more because of who they are?

Jason Wald said...

If this week’s posts are anything like last weeks, I’m sure many people will be questioning the ridiculousness of Frankenstein’s character. I would like to give the poor man a break and look at the monster for a moment. This story allows one to easily look at the monster through an existential lens. With the basic premise that existence precedes essence , whereby a person defines themselves through being an individual, instead of by whatever labels etc. society has placed on them. These ideas are abundant throughout the story, especially in the second half. The monster struggles to define himself in a human world. If existentialism rests on the idea of an absurd world, it does not get any more absurd than a world you are created into. Being the only of his ‘species’, he must constantly try to both be who/whatever he is and a human, by society’s definition. This internal debate is epitomized by his final decision to kill himself. No longer able to live in a world where he is not able to be himself, not even to himself, he sets off into the arctic to build his funeral pyre.

Carmen Condeluci said...

Has anyone else been as thoroughly impressed with Zork as I am? I’ve been a gamer since I've been able to hold a controller, but text-based adventures were not a genre that I was familiar with, less even considered them true “video games”. This quickly changed after I launched Zork for the first time. As many of you probably experienced on your first sortie, I quickly became horribly lost, walking in circles for hours in a forest, “with trees in all directions”. After about ten minutes of frustration I figured that I should probably devise some sort of map, so with pencil and paper in hand, I fired off the “reset” command and started fresh. As I was manually plotting out locations as I explored the surface, I realized that Zork had achieved something within the first twenty minutes that very few other games have required of me in their entirety over the past couple of years: true problem solving. Zork does not spoon-feed you any information, and effectively does the opposite in giving only a text-based account of your surroundings. From these descriptions, you are expected to make an inference and attempt solutions to move forward, such as figuring out that “low branches” of a tree give you the ability to climb upwards, revealing a jewel-encrusted egg treasure.

I also enjoyed that Zork rewards the player for being clever in nearly every situation, such as the encounter with the Cyclops and the thief at the end of the maze. After having the Cyclops nearly kill me, I decided that I would take a different approach and try to distract him with something from my inventory. As checked the list, I decided to give him the lunch and water to lure him away with food, which to my surprise was one of the correct solutions. When I was met with the thief, I figured I should also try to distract him, so I handed over the treasure I had collected piece by piece, attacking when he would stop to look at what I had given him. I later found that Zork also has an unforgiving level of difficultly in some aspects, as I ran out of matches during my many failed attempts at exorcising the guardian spirits of Hell. I couldn't find any more matches, so I had to start the adventure over from the beginning. I wasn't exactly happy losing an hour and a half of my efforts, but I was eager to move on to discover new areas and find the rest of Zork’s treasures. The world of Zork, although totally lacking of any sort of graphical representation, was able to captivate me with its adventure just like any other three dimensional game of the genre. Did any other gamers have a similar revelation or experience while playing in the “Great Underground Empire”?

Ronald Rollins said...

I actually kind of enjoyed Frankenstein's ending, although it could just be that I like stories that end in failure.

The biggest issue throughout the novel was that Frankenstein throws all blame solely on the monster for being a murderer, but it's on his deathbed that he finally accepts that things could've been different if only he'd treated the monster like a human from the beginning. It's one of those moments of clarity where a person realizes all the trouble they've caused, but only after it's resulted in irreversible damage. It's a period where Frankenstein feels truly human. The monster, having also realized he caused needless suffering merely to get revenge, also felt somewhat relatable to me. We all do irrational things out of fear and vengeance, but we quickly realize how wrong we were once our goals are nearing their end and past the point of redemption.

ajq5623 said...

Although there are many aspects of the second half of the novel that were interesting to me I would like to focus on one specific line that stood out to me. The monster is speaking to Victor when he says, "You are my creator, but I am your master;--obey!" (191). When I read this line I could not help but stop and consider the profound shift that has occurred since the beginning of the novel. Initially Victor sees himself as a god because of his ability to create life (49). Also, he states "No father could claim the gratitude of his child so completely as I should deserve theirs" when referring to the monster (49). It is obvious that Victor views himself as having complete authority over the monster and the world. However, this power stance is less and less evident in his thoughts as the novel progresses. As the monster develops more independence from Victor throughout the novel Victor is stripped of his control. This progression in my mind is climaxed by the line on page 191. Here we see Victor's character with the opposite control in which we see him on page 49. With this in mind, it is also possible to make the next step and argue that as the monster gains more humanity Victor loses his. This is exceedingly evident by the end of the novel when Victor dies. Although I have not formed a complete argument around this theory I find the link between the monster and Victor's humanity to be very interesting.

Joseph Hastings said...

After reading the second half of Frankenstein, I don’t know where to begin. There are so many possible things from the book to talk about, but the one thing I cannot get over is how Frankenstein could be that blind to how the monster was going to get his revenge. I understand that the murder of Henry Clerval was a surprise to Frankenstein, but Elizabeth’s murder, come on that was easily predictable. How could Frankenstein just leave her alone on their wedding night when the monster said he would be there on his wedding night? I just don’t understand how Frankenstein didn’t realize that the monster was never going to kill him. It is clear that the monster just wanted to make Frankenstein’s life as miserable as possible, and he clearly succeeded. Maybe Frankenstein was just too paranoid to realize it, but it just seems blatantly obvious what the monsters plan was. This is just very frustrating for the reader.

Adam Lewis said...

I definitely agree! That was absolutely maddening that he couldn't see that was coming!

Matthew Schroeder said...

My reaction to the second half of this novel was significantly more positive than previously. That being said, Victor still seems unable to reach obvious conclusions. For example, he should have been able to predict Elizabeth's death. By killing Henry the monster is explicitly saying to Victor something along the lines of "I will kill all of your friends and family." Despite his belief that the monster is wretched to the core and despite the monster's repeatedly expressed hatred and desire for revenge, he expects it will just leave her be? Especially after denying the monster the very happiness he wishes to find in his marriage. Aside from that I really liked the direction the story went. Since the monster was first introduced I was firmly on its side. I saw it as the ultimate victim in this story. That belief was shaken when the monster related to Victor the murder of William and the condemnation of Justine. I still believed it when it expressed its desire for peace though, and I never really expected it to follow through with its threats. By the end of the story, however, I held the monster in a completely different light. I didn't see it as an innocent child abandoned by its father. It's susceptibility to the same dark emotions which eventually overcame Victor make it at least as dangerous as a human. While I still believe that the monster is the victim here and much of the blame for what happened lies squarely on Victor's shoulders, I realize that the monster is not completely innocent.

Tolu Dayo said...

Is anyone else as annoyed with Zork as I am? I am not a gamer, so playing this game is already frustrating, but its even more frustrating cause I keep getting stuck in the same place every time i decide to restart. I find myself in the same spot: at the canyon, at the top of the big tree in the forest, at the grating in the clearing or sometimes inside the house, but i'm unable to go anywhere. Basically I need help. But as annoying as the game is, I still find myself going back and trying to find new locations and treasure.

Caleb Radomile said...

Although I'm not that fond of the book as a whole, it does wrap up quite nicely even if it is full of Victor being incompetent for how smart he is. Why would he stop creating a new monster? The old one had already picked off his younger brother and it 's not hard to have foreseen what else he was going to do to Victor. If it weren't for the monster's threats I could completely understand Victor's moral dilemma. There's no telling how the new monster would act. It could be completely different from it's mate, and as Victor said, it did not agree to the pact they had made (188) so it could just run off. After destroying the creation, he just goes about his business like nothing was going to happen. It's infuriating how this whole tragedy could have been avoided if Victor just used some common sense at multiple points throughout the whole book.

Sarah Ayre said...

I definitely feel your pain Tolu! As someone who is very visual, i am very frustrated with Zork. I am constantly forgetting where I have been and what I have just done so that I end up repeating a bunch of my actions. Everytime I think I am about to do something useful, I end up messing up and have to essentially start over. I have played many video games before, and I do enjoy the kind of power you have in Zork-such as not having too strict (or nearly any as in the case of Zork) a plotline to follow. Then if you miss one minute detail you are going to end up being screwed later in the game. With Zork though, I definitely get frustrated. I feel like the text that talks back to me is mocking me in a way. Every time that I forget what i've seen and want to examine something more closely, the game seems to reply in a snarky tone that they see nothing interesting about said item. I can usually tell that an item or situation is going to be one of interest, but how it will relate to the rest of the game is beyond me.

Abby Peters said...

Does it bother anyone else that even after hearing Victor’s tale Walton still idolizes him? He even refers to him as “noble and god-like” (244). Also, Walton still tries to get Victor to divulge the secret of life to him. I think that Walton is much like the young Victor Frankenstein and this overlooking of the horrible details of Victor’s story and character on Walton’s part reflects a never ending circle. Walton comes from a family of wealth and he too does not fully understand the consequences of his actions. He sails a ship full of men into the North Pole and even after many die he is still not convinced that they should turn back. These deaths do not reflect back on him (the captain) in his eyes. Walton is so swept up in the glory, which he may or may not find, to pay attention to the reality of his “dream” much like Victor was in creating the monster.

Luv Purohit said...

I really don't think I grew up in an age where I would be able to thoroughly enjoy Zork. I used to play a lot of video games, and I really cannot fathom how anyone could play this game and not lose their mind. The lack of visuals, the feeling of helplessness you get when you get stuck is not something I'm used to when I'm playing video games. I'm used to things just being easy going and entertaining, and the challenges that I do face, are easily overcome after a few tries. The lack of a difficulty setting is something I also am feeling deprived of. The fact that everyone is subject to the same torture that is the complexity of this game is crazy to me. I think back then the idea of more cerebral games were much more valued than today. I don't think I could find many people who would have the will to finish this game just so they can say they did.

Brianna R. Pinckney said...

I'd like to talk about how the presence of nature has complete opposite effects on Victor and the monster. Victor seeks the high, cold isolated areas like the Alps hoping to freeze his guilt about the monster's murders. However the monster finds comfort in the blooming seasons of the springtime signifying his eagerness to connect with humans and his want to interact with others. Unlike Victor, the monster receives brief relief from nature, enabling him to set aside the negativity of his existence. It's interesting to see that the monster has developed a coping mechanism for his sorrow whereas Victor struggles to cope with his troubles.

I agree with Ronald, I enjoyed the ending to Frankenstein. The domino effect of tragic deaths was a little predictable but I enjoyed Shelley's work. The second half of the novel demonstrated the "human side" of the novel. Who knew a science experiment was capable of revenge, solitude and installing guilt onto his creator for abandoning him. By blaming his killings on his solitude, the monster demonstrated a keen understanding on empathy; it's funny how a monster mastered this emotion in the hopes of gaining a mate when many human today find it difficult to empathize with others.

Jared DiSanti said...

When reading the second half of this book, a famous quote from the movie "Spiderman" kept popping into my head. The quote says "With great power comes great responsibility." Obviously the creation of life is the greatest responsibility any being can have. However, Victor fails to take any responsibility for his actions. His chain of passive choices and selfishness reap dire consequences. Unlike Spiderman, Victor is not a hero, his purpose for this story is to serve as a warning to Walton and save him from the torment he suffered. I think Walton's decision to return to England is a way from which learns from Victor's mistakes. Victor's drive for glory and knowledge made him miserable and Walton was smart enough to learn that the risk was not worth the reward.

Nicholas Flynn said...

The references to Paradise Lost and the Fall of Man increase in the second half of Frankenstein (in my view). In particular, I cite the first letter Walton writes after Frankenstein completes his tale. On page __: "What a glorious creature he must have been in the days of his prosperity, when he is thus noble and godlike in ruin! He seems to feel his own worth and the greatness of his fall."
What gives Walton this impression is Frankenstein's manners and sincerity, how he acts towards his fellow man. Though Frankenstein's previous social standing may also contribute some to Walton's opinions. They don't seem to be the motivating factor in his praising Frankenstein here, but Frankenstein still bears some markings of a noble, high class man.
Walton looks past Frankenstein's appearence: disheveled, alone, mad desperation in his eyes. He still calls him both "noble and godlike."
Perhaps it is the latter that colors Walton's opinion of Frankenstein (and perhaps it is reading Frankenstein that makes me write a sentence like that). Frankenstein is godlike for his creation, but also more literally - he is godlike for his appearence as God made man in his image.
The "godlike" Frankenstein did not make his creation in his own image. Instead, his monstrous creation repulsed every bit of God's creation. And that's why no one would consider the Monster as "noble and godlike in ruin!" though it could be argued that he is. The monster could be considered noble (by some stretch of the definition pertaining to the high-minded, principled) in carrying out his duty, and he is certainly godlike in his power over man.
They experience different fates - Frankenstein dying by natural causes, and the monster presumably taking his own life. I wonder who felt more the "greatness of his fall."

Nikki Moriello said...

I'm very interested in the Zork game. As someone who really doesn't take to computer games or video games, usually, I'm really impressed by the game itself. I've never experienced anything like it before and I really enjoy playing it (most of the time). Sometimes, I get extremely frustrated and want to throw my computer across the room because no matter how hard I try, the treasure is just out of my reach. It's especially comforting when I'm stuck in a difficult position and the narrator makes snide remarks like, "Very good. Now you can go to the second grade." Knowing nothing about computer programming and scripting, seeing the calculated responses of the narrator are pretty impressive.
In reference to the game being a narrative, I think it definitely qualifies as one. I remember during our first class we compared the game to a "choose your own adventure" type of narrative, which I think is a valid description. No matter who is playing the game, it starts at the exact same place and there are only a certain number of paths that you can take. There may be countless options to choose from, but there are specific goals to be achieved and treasures to be found. This part of the narrative is set in stone, but how you achieve the various goals, what order they are achieved in, and the level of success you have with each one is up to the gamer. This allows the gamer to actively participate in the story and the action of the narrative, which is entertaining for the gamer. I think this is why the game is so captivating.