|Type of paper:||Research paper|
|Categories:||Frankenstein World literature|
"Frankenstein," a novel by Mary Shelley, is an exciting novel that represents a man's life in an attempt to elucidate life's meaning and the reasons underlying existence. In this novel, Victor Frankenstein is the main character. Frankenstein's struggle is explained as he tries to find the reality behind the physical world. As the story begins, Victor's excitement is revealed. However, he is psychologically, emotionally, and physically threatened after creating his creature. Throughout the whole story, the author seems to relate the story to the 19th-century context of society. The author depicts a civilized society where there is government, enlightenment, luxury, laws, and wealth. Looking at this story in light of the happenings in the 18th century is more insightful. Thus, "Frankenstein" is a representation of the 19th-century history and civilization by highlighting enlightenment, women, and the inception of science and Marxist practices.
The monster created by Frankenstein is a representation of science, which is the acquisition of intellectual power beyond learning. "At first I started back, unable to believe that it was indeed I who was reflected in the mirror; and when I became fully convinced that I was, in reality, the monster that I am, I was filled with the bitterest sensations of despondence and mortification (Shelley 112)." As the statement is, Victor's creature represents the power it has, which exceeds human limits. The 19th century has ushered in an era of science that is punctuated by constant learning and knowledge building. This points to the author's awareness of the ability possessed by science in creating various entities in life. The significance of science in the novel is that it builds a conflict in which the whole story is based. As the monster looks at his face in the mirror, the author demonstrates the strength and authority stamped by science over the existence of humans as a result of its power to create creatures that are not normal contrary to human expectations.
Frankenstein is a novel that constructs social civilization in the 19th-century era of enlightenment. In his article "The Political Geography of Horror in Mary Shelley's Frankenstein, "Randel (469) thinks that "Victor now resembles the European intellectuals who flirted with or actively promoted radical ideas at home, but were aghast when overseas colonies chose to apply Enlightenment notions of human rights to their condition." Further, he asserts that the actions Victor portrays characterize his enlightenment as he is determined to reveal the secrets of his physical life. The implication of this is that Victor tries to destroy people's traditional perspectives about human existence. Randel further opines that the novel "is an astute extension and complication of the political geography of Gothic, as applied to the spread of revolutionary ideas, and of the revolution itself" (466). He argues that Shelley advocates for the abandonment of "violent revolution and the Bourbon reconstruction's inflexibility in favor of a fundamental and peaceful reorganization of social government" (Smith 7). What stands out is that Victor's actions are used by the author to demonstrate how enlightenment and science go hand in hand. It can be concluded from the novel that science is a form of enlightenment, both intellectual and physical. There is enough evidence from the novel that signifies how science has enhanced civilization through modern means compared to the traditional methods.
Marxism is another aspect depicted by Shelley in her novel, as she describes Victor's creatures' structure. Diana Reese (2006) in her article, A Troubled Legacy: Mary Shelley's Frankenstein and the Inheritance of Human Rights, "Victor Frankenstein can hear the justice of the monster's claim (as an ideal citizen) but cannot grant him the corollary rights of man: the protection of the necessities of his life. In the "series of his being," as an unfinished citizen, the daemon comes to figure something akin to the "unreal universality" of the rights-bearer in Karl Marx's analysis of the Declaration of the Rights of Man and the Citizen" (Reese 65). Victor became a mouthpiece in this novel in expressing instances of isolation and Marxism through his creations. It seems Victor has desires to get back to his previous life, which was rather quiet and concentrated on his family's well-being. It seems Victor's life was corrupted by the presence of life's beauties and pleasures, a consequence of capitalism. The author implies the danger of enlightenment, knowledge, and advancement in science. It corrupts the good cultural aspects of society and replaces them with new cultures and practices which distract people from families and friends (Gigante 567). For instance, the coming of technology has been a danger in society. The author was awake to the impending threat generated by advancement in science and technology in the whole society.
Victor can detect human thoughts in his creature as the monster begins to tell his story. However, the creature is limited by his physical appearance, which does not allow him to be human. Marxism is depicted in this episode when the creature is said to be an "unfinished citizen" because of the physical appearance it assumes despite having human qualities (Gigante 568). The monster could not get any privileges enjoyed by other citizens owing to his physical appearance. In the 19th century society, there is a sense of inequality in society that stems from differences in physical appearance (Randel 468). Therefore, the degrading nature of this century's civilization is the backbone of Shelley's argument as she tries to highlight a new perspective in a society that would instead enjoy the diversity in physical appearance among humans and consider them equal.
Apart from science and Marxism, Shelley also highlights women in society. "At one time, I considered whether I should not declare myself guilty and suffer the penalty of the law, less innocent than poor Justine had been (Shelley 185)." Victor, this statement shows his guilt towards Justine. Victor well knows that Justine is not and cannot engage in murder, but his creation can. However, since he has a weak will and character, he leaves Justine to drink from the cup of suffering. Therefore, the analogy depicts the status women are regarded in society. Shelley wrote this novel at a time when women were voiceless, and when they spoke, no one could listen to them either. This cultural norm was so much engraved in society that women seemed worthless compared to men (Babar 425). Women were considered less privileged, weak, and servants to their male counterparts. Shelley depicts Justine as a poor, vulnerable, and innocent woman used by Victor to fulfill his lusts and sinfulness (Babar 420). However, Victor can accomplish this behind Justine's knowledge since she is not aware of whatever happened behind the scenes. Thus, Shelley depicts Justine as a 19th-century woman used as objects by men to fulfill their desires.
In summary, different aspects of the 19th-century historical context have been highlighted by Shelley's "Frankenstein" - knowledge, enlightenment, and social class. Much as enlightenment was celebrated in the 19th century, Victor felt consumed by his discoveries that he always desired to retract to his former life. Despite many scholars depicting Shelley's novel as horror, there us clear evidence that the story is about the 19th-century historical aspects of social class, enlightenment, and knowledge. Throughout the novel, we have seen how society has been dramatically influenced by a new culture and practices resulting to advancements in science and knowledge. Interestingly, the novel challenges traditional cultural aspects in politics and the role of women as well. The novel depicts women as objects to be used by men to satisfy their desires. However, the author tries to bring that to the limelight to challenge society to act in better ways. Thus, throughout the novel, history is greatly unraveled in a manner that conveys life beyond the usual way.
Babar, Arif Kamal. "Frankenstein; From a Psycho-Political Perspective." (2013): 1-201
Bowerbank, Sylvia. "The social order VS the wretch: Mary Shelley's contradictory-mindedness in Frankenstein." ELH 46.3 (1979): 418-431.
Gigante, Denise. "Facing the Ugly: The Case of" Frankenstein"." Elh 67.2 (2000): 565-587.
Randel, Fred V. "The Political Geography of Horror in Mary Shelley's" Frankenstein"." Elh 70.2 (2003): 465-491.
Reese, Diana. "A troubled legacy: Mary Shelley's Frankenstein and the inheritance of human rights." Representations 96.1 (2006): 48-72.
Shelley, Mary. frankenstein. Broadview Press, 2012.
Smith, Tyler. "Power and Insecurity: Foucauldian Biopolitics in Mary Shelley's" Frankenstein"." (2018).
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