Friday, October 4, 2013

Revision 1: Rhetoric, Lies and Contradictions in Frankenstein

                                  Rhetoric, Lies and Contradictions in Frankenstein

Emotions, caring and the search for love, these are all themes or important things that are addressed in this book. When it comes to the monster all three of these things apply to him, mostly in his search, and realization of the definition of these emotions. We meet him first at birth brought into this lonely world with no one to love him, and throughout the book, we follow his journey on the search of love, connection and companionship with his creator. This need for companionship shows his dependence on his maker, Victor for the essential things in life. However over the course of the book his method of acquiring love from his creator changes. His transition from being timid, and dependent on Victor, to his independence and almost dominance over Victor is the change in the tone of the argument that he makes throughout the book. This change and the varying ways in which he tries acquire love from his creator all play a huge part in defining him as a character, and also in defining the basis for his argument.
Like most human beings long to be loved, and cared for, so does the monster. This search for love, companionship, and acceptance that the monster seeks from the world and his creator is triggered by his observations of these traits amongst the Delacey family. This brings him to the realization that most people in the world have people they love, whom also in turn love them back. It also triggers his anger and resentment towards his creator for making him and not loving him, and also for not making him aesthetically pleasing enough for other people to love him. His inability to acquire these things by himself due to his dependence on Victor makes him vulnerable. It also takes his ability to acquire love and companionship out of his hands, and his happiness is put in the hands of Victor. In his time spent observing the family, he begins to realize the difference between himself and the Delacey’s. He has no one who loves him, and the one person; his creator Victor who should love him by default does not reciprocate this feeling. While in isolation, the monster begins to realize that he has to be independent and take care of himself so in his search for wisdom, while at the Delacey’s he discovers some books in a leather portmanteau, which serve as his learning tools of the way human beings work. Just as we had Dr. Seuss as little children to learn important morals, he had books such as: Paradise Lost, Plutarch’s Lives, and The Sorrows of Werter. From these books he is once again faced with the hardest part of not being loved by his maker. He says: “And what was I? Of my creation and creator I was absolutely ignorant... hideously deformed and loathsome... I was not even of the same nature as man. I cannot describe to you the agony that these reflections inflicted upon me; I tried to dispel them, but sorrow only increased with knowledge...” (Clapper). He now understands that most people have the help and support from their family or loved ones. From the book Paradise Lost he realizes that he is far different from the first creature on earth, Adam created by God. Unlike himself, Adam came from a creator who was happy with his creation, and guarded it with his special care. But in his case, his creator Victor had created him, and tossed him aside out of fear and dissatisfaction with his creation, with no care for the consequences of his actions on the monster. He states, “God in pity made man beautiful and alluring… but my form is a filthy type of yours, more horrid even from your very resemblance”. This is the last straw for the monster, the realization that even his maker finds him to be repulsive to look at and inevitably un-lovable. This unfortunate realization fuels the monsters disdain for Victor, he says, “ When I viewed the bliss of my protectors, the bitter gall of envy rose within me”. This envy eventually leads to his want for a female companion from Victor.
The monster continues to make his argument for a companion starting in Chapter 15, where he parallels himself to Satan, “Satan had his companions, to admire and encourage him, but I am solitary and abhorred” he says. His want of a companion tugs on my heartstrings, because as a human being, I understand the need for every being to be loved and to have a companion. As the monster details his heart-tugging story of loneliness to Victor, he also confesses to the murder of William, which he claims was committed out of anger towards his creator Victor and the rejection that he felt from the Delacey’s and the world. It is while he is committing the murder of William, that his need for a female companion once again arises. After seeing the picture of the beautiful Caroline Beaufort, he says, “ I remembered that I was forever deprived of the delights that such beautiful creatures could bestow”.  It is with all this in his arsenal that he takes his argument for a female companion to Victor. It can be stated that him comparing himself to Satan foreshadows his change in his argument from dependence to independence/domination from Victor. As Satan who was also once dependent on God, later betrayed him and became a demon, this foreshadows the monsters transition. He realizes that as a creature, the only one that can free him of his loneliness and misery is his creator. He goes ahead trying to convince Victor by playing on his conscience and blaming the deaths of Justine and William on him. He states that his maliciousness is because he is miserable. At the response of no to his request from Victor the tone in his argument changes.
The previous foreshadowing of his similarity to Satan starts to manifest. Through out the previous chapters, the monsters plea for companionship had been all based on the feeling of loneliness, he felt when he observed the love and happiness everyone else around him felt towards each other. With Victor’s refusal however, he looses his calm and resorts to threats. He says “ I will revenge my injuries; if I cannot inspire love, I will cause fear”. It is at this exact point that the change in his tone of argument is observed. No longer do we have a helpless creature begging for love from his maker, now we have a creature that is promising destruction, and will resort to violence in order to get his wants. The monster begins to realize that the days of being solely dependent on Victor must come to an end, and he must take control of his own happiness, even if it involves threatening the life of his maker. However, after wearing Victor down with his story, and possibly also scaring him with his threats, Victor feels indebted to him as his maker, he says “ Did I not as his maker owe him all the portion of happiness that it was in my power to bestow?” Victor’s agreement to give him a female companion is met with complete elation from the monster.
However the thoughts that go through Victor’s mind as he begins work on what was supposed to be his second creation is overwhelming and he decides to stop. His decision to stop creation is not missed by the monster, who had been marking his progress. The monster’s micro managing of Victors creation of his new companion is once again a sign of his new dependency and him not leaving all of his happiness entirely up to Victor. He has realized that it would take more than heart-warming, stories to get his way; instead he must be hands on or even take control. The only down part of his want for independence is that, no matter what he does, he will never be able to create a companion for himself. As the monster watches Victor destroy the creature whom his future happiness depends on he says “I have endured fatigue, and hunger; do you dare destroy my hope?” With the realization the he was not going to get a female companion a new form of anger unlike before seen in the previous chapters is witnessed. While throughout the book he had held Victor as a higher being above himself. Here instead we see him disregard Victor’s authority over him and he resorts to threats he says “But I can make you so wretched that the light of day will be hateful to you”. The tone in his argument is no longer somber, but now driven by anger and spite. He even goes on to call himself master over Victor, he says “ You are my creator, but I am your master; obey!” This is where the change is his argument is essentially noticed. He goes from asking nicely and playing on the guilt that Victor had as his maker, to resorting to anger. He essentially looses himself in his anger; he says “ Are you to be happy while I grovel in the intensity of my wretchedness?” At this point the monster has finally realized that his dependence on Victor will only be a downfall to him. He must hold responsibility for everything that he wants since Victor his maker has relinquished all his rights to provide them for him. With this he leaves but not before swearing to enact his revenge on Victor, this threat eminently means death in some form.
The change in the tone of the monsters argument for a companion can be partly blamed on Victor. He plays with the monster already fragile emotions, first by showing him no care or love, as a creator should and then leaving him destitute and lonely. He neglects his role as a creator and provider to the monster, who is his responsibility, since he decided to create him. This trend on Victor’s part is a reoccurring theme. Right from the beginning of the monsters life at creation, where he discards of him due to him unfavorable sight. Down to the final moments where he once again fails to provide something such as love, which is essential to all beings. Once again, he fails in his duty as a maker. Once again the old feeling of envy, anger and jealousy in the seemingly happy life that Victor possesses pushes the monster to his breaking point. Which eventually leads him to be an independent being, no longer does Victor have a hold over him.
Shelley, Mary Wollstonecraft, and Lynd Ward. Frankenstein: The Lynd Ward Illustrated Edition

Clapper, tara. "Frankenstein's Monster: A Product of Society." Yahoo Voices. Yahoo, 08 30 2007. Web. 4 Oct. 2013. <>.

1 comment:

Adam said...

I'm not totally clear at the beginning what your argument is. If you're simply arguing that monster is always, even at the end, only searching for Victor's love, that's fine - that's a challenging and interesting argument in its own right. It could just be more clearly stated if that's what you're doing.

The long paragraph focused roughy on the Delaceys is too much like a summary, too little like an argument. It's not like this material is totally unnecessary or pointless, but it does seem unfocused.

When he identifies with Satan, is he looking for Victor's love? When he kills William, is he looking for Victor's love? Possibly he is, but you aren't really making that argument. You seemed at the beginning to argue that he's always looking for love *from Victor*; now you seem to be arguing that he's looking simply *for love*. Which one is it?

"Victor’s agreement to give him a female companion is met with complete elation from the monster." -- in this paragraph you again have a tendency to simply summarize what happens, rather than to really interpret it or elaborate on it. Is the monster motivated by love for Victor here? By love in the abstract? By desire for power and mastery over Victor?

When you discuss this monster's turn to rage, there is more interpretive work to be done. Is the monster really breaking down and changing his point of view here (which is what he would claim), or is he merely showing his true colors (as Victor might claim, or Walton)? Is he really incapable of creating his own companion? Does he really hold "Victor as a higher being above himself"? Or is that just a rhetorical stance he takes to manipulate Victor? Rather than figuring this stuff out (not all of it, but some part of it, the aspects which most interest you), you tend to just take us through the sequence of events.

Overall: You don't really have a clear argument of your own here. Are you condemning Victor's treatment of the monster? Are you arguing that the monster is looking for love, or for Victor's love? Your research is weak, and your use of the text shows that you understand everything that happens, but that you're reluctant to really make a clear interpretation of your own - this is an essay which anyone could have written, not a presentation of your own interpretation of it.