Thursday, January 16, 2014

A Monster with Human Feelings

Very simply put, the monster is absolutely human. In the simplest of arguments, the monster takes on a name, Adam which is in no coincidence, the name of the first man. The monster tells Victor Frankenstein to refer to him as Adam and even states that he is the “fallen angel” (Shelley 107). Claiming a name does not exactly make something a human, but it establishes that what Victor has created has becoming something more than just a project. Besides the name, the monster was also created from human parts. Victor himself had the intent to create a human saying that he was without doubt of his ability to “give life to an animal as complex and wonderful as a man”  and said that he “began the creation of a human being” (Shelley 48-49). Although Victor keeps talking about how he is creating a human being, the question of what exactly is a human being can come into play. According to the Oxford English Dictionary, a human, or humanity, is defined as “general psychological characteristics, feelings, and behavioral traits of humankind regarded and shared by all humans”. Behavioral traits encompass a wide variety of emotions and feelings, many of which we see the monster have throughout the story. At Victor and the monster’s first confrontation after the initial birth, Victor shouts at Adam calling him a devil, Shelley herself refers to him as ‘demon’. After several words from Victor, the monster tells Victor to relax and asks him why he wants to increase his already burdening misery (Shelley 106). From this we can draw that the monster does in fact have feelings and show emotions, or at least can recognize sadness within him. The feelings that are present in the monster satisfy the Oxford definition of what it takes to be part of the human race. Much like the rest of the human race, the monster just wanted a significant other, a sense of longing for something, further exploring his emotional canvas.
In a time where the definition of life is so broad yet specific, it’s difficult not to associate the creation of Victor’s monster to that of a baby. In recent years there has been a great deal of debate, confusion, and anger toward what is considered to be a human life. In a purely scientific and psychological sense to be a human, in simple terms, one must have the ability to have feelings or emotions. According to doctors at the University of California at San Francisco, a fetus cannot feel pain until its 28th week of gestation. Although the monster Victor created obviously could not be aborted or killed easily, but this comparison shows that a 20 week old unborn fetus has fewer feelings than this lab experiment that is referred to as a monster, demon, and devil. In the United States at this time, abortion in some states is still illegal. Many people fight for the pro-life, claiming that the unborn fetus is a human; if some people can be so strong-heartedly that an unborn fetus is a human, then why is there a even a question about whether Adam is human or not.

The true question that should be reflected upon is; who is the true monster? If humanity can recognize Victor for the colossal monstrosities he took part in, then why is there even hesitation when it comes to the creation, Adam. Because of Victor’s extreme irresponsibility, a total of five people in his life inevitably died because he was so inhumane. The character development that is viewed shows that as their lives go on, Victor loses his humanity while depriving Adam what he wants more than anything else. On a specifically definition based understanding of human/humanity, it shows evident that the monster, Adam, is through and through a human that exhibits deep well thought out feelings that control his life. The harsh judgment Victor give Adam is perplexing seeing that Victor made him. The visually appalling aspects of Adam should not play a social strain on his part of humanity. 


Tom Kappil said...

I liked the biblical parallels you connected for the monster and Frankenstein, and how, by Frankenstein's intention, the monster was to be a human, and nothing else. However, I feel like you could have elaborated on the emotions of the monster a bit more. One line (adding to the monster’s misery) does not justify a full argument, and there are many more instances from the selected passages that indicate the emotional maturity of the monster. The assertion that the monster “wanted a significant other, a sense of longing for something, further exploring his emotional canvas” is in no way backed up by the passage you cited. His emotional canvas, as explained by the essay, is only misery. So depth in this argument, in terms of specificity and in text citations, needs to be added.

The definition of a “human life” in terms of feeling pain seems more like a tangent than anything else. It does not help your argument about the humanity of the monster by including the introduction of feeling pain in human gestation. You already defined his emotions as a characteristic of humanity, so the fetus argument is lacking. Had you compared the monster’s development (language skills, fine motor control, complex thought) to that of a child, the comparison would make more sense, but bringing in pro-life vs pro-choice arguments for the characterization of humanity of a monster in a work of literature is seems misguided.

You seem to toss in the argument concerning the monster’s physical description at the end, as an afterthought, having never mentioned it before. Either expand on how the monster is or isn't a human by shape, or get rid of the statement.

Outside of that, the argument was very good, and I found myself agreeing with most of your contentions.

Adam said...

Your first paragraph is long and messy. It's not that any of the individual ideas are unworkable - it's that you don't focus on any of them. Focusing on the monster's identification with Adam (although he also identifies with Satan - who *isn't* human) is a clever approach, but if you're going to do it, do it. Don't get muddied by questions about the monster's physical origins (you aren't correct, incidentally, that he is assembled from body parts - this is a creation of the movies). Ending on a discussion of the monster's feelings seems weak. Animals have feelings too, at least up to a point, and it detracts from your more focused (although far from perfectly focused) discussion of Adam.

The abortion thing seems like a distraction - I'm not clear what you're doing with it. You want to have one argument, not many, in an essay this short.

Do you actually think that inhumane people are inhuman? Maybe you're trying to make that argument about Victor, or maybe you're just relying on the similarity of the words to make that argument for you. In any case, this is, once again, an example of a weak or wandering focus: maybe you could say *something* about the monster's humanity via Victor's inhumanity (if you can defend that claim), but you're not really doing that here...

Overall: You lack focus throughout. If you want to argue that the monster is human because he is like the Biblical Adam (in reality? in his own eyes), that's a fine concept, but you need to do that in a focused and consistent manner, rather than sporadically.

Note that most of my arguments at least parallel things which Tom is also saying.

Brendan Demich said...

I enjoyed the concepts that you were bringing up. When you mentioned that the creature has empathy for Victor. I agree with what you are saying about Adam feeling empathy proves that he was able to feel emotion.

I appreciated that you attempted to relate the meaning to a current event, but I'm concerned that it doesn't add much to your thesis or to the prompt in general. Focus is important. Before writing your essay, you may want to have a rough plan of you intended points and be sure that each one is an attempt to strengthen your thesis.

I do appreciate you writing. You seem to use good variation in sentence structure (i.e. simple, complex, compound etc.). If you improve your focus in future essays, they will likely be quite strong.