Jack SantoreEnglish Composition IRichard Hartshorn”Mary Shelley” Mary Shelley, the daughter of twoinfamous literary rebels, William Godwin and Mary Wollstonecraft, was born inAugust 1797. Mary Wollstonecraft died soon after the birth of Shelley, thussending William Godwin into a downward spiral of grief over the loss of hislife partner, one he had gained such appreciation for (Ty). Godwin dealt withhis grief by reflecting upon Wollstonecraft’s works, and formulating a novel thatset to immortalize his wife.
Shelley’sbirth mother was regarded as a prominent author in the years following herdeath, and was a pioneer in identifying gender barriers (Ty). Mary Shelley wasin need of motherly influence. Shelley began to write stories at a young age;her stories were constituted of a rejection of utopian radicalism, and theupbringing of abolitionist ideology (Ty). In Mary Shelly’s Frankenstein; or The Modern Prometheus, the formulation of asubhuman creature pertains to social constructs of the time period. Frankenstein embodies the treatment ofindividuals as subhuman, and is deemed as a progressive message that identifiesthat this mistreatment of individuals as subhuman will lead to social crisis.Mary Shelley’s use of detail shows a relationship between the Creature, and itscreator, to help emphasize this underlying meaning.
Mary Shelley sought to write a horrorstory that spoke to the “mysterious fears of our nature,” that, “awakenthrilling horror,” (Shelley 9). The imperative motive in the novel is one of a generalnature of human being; Kiely claims, we derive superiority through thesuffering of others (Kiely 163), and in Frankenstein;or The Modern Prometheus, she clearly displays a constitute of influenceassociated in the creation of the creature by Victor Frankenstein. Thecharacter, Victor Frankenstein, devotes his ambition in the formulation of ahuman like creature, after being consumed in the sciences behind human nature (38).Victor uncovers a knowledge of secrecy regarding the creation of a human likeform, and is absorbed in his work. Through his labors, he is desensitized tohis true persona and life. The meaning of his life is now constituted of thecreation of a human like creature, one that he would soon be his misfortune.Upon the completion of his works, he gave life to his Creature. Victor abandonsthe creature on the foundation of his horrid wretchedness, which was onlysubjective by appearance.
The Creature supported a beautiful nature of being inhis conscious, but was subjected to subhuman identity, where he was not accepted- a cursed creation (86-99). The Creature elaborates on his story and influenceto Victor, to deduce a neutral relationship. The Creature explains hisperception of the subjective nature of man and his creator, along withrealizing the peculiar structures of human society. “I learned that the possession’s most esteemedby your fellow creatures were high and unsullied descent united with riches. Aman might be respected with only one of these advantages; but without either,except very rare instances, as a vagabond and slave,” (Shelley 87). The Creatureis treated inadequately due to his appearance. He is unable to identify hisorigin, and is consumed by despair and anguish, upon the aggressive questioningof his creation. The Creature arose in desire of revenge after reading Victor’sjournal, which he had stolen upon his abandonment, of the formulation of theCreature.
In Victor’s journal a statement is made regarding the spark of lifeupon the creature, “Hateful day when I received life,” (Shelley 94). Thisstatement serves as a foundation of the Creature’s desired revenge. TheCreature derives his understanding of human difference from the observations ofthe De Laceys, a family that resided in a cottage near the creators dwelling.The Creature observes a superiority difference between he and the family, andis subjected to feel the inferiority complex of his appearance (Bugg 659). In his revenge, he murders the beloved brotherof Victor, William. Victor is ravaged of life’s pleasure and the beings hebeloved due to the formation of a creature that he soon abandoned, on thefoundation of it’s appearance. Victor treats his creature as a subhuman.
Victordoes not grant his creature the pleasures of life, or a sense of belonging,which in turn, revenge him on the questioning of his creation (96-98). The Creature’srealization of human difference upon the observation of the De Lacey’s isderived when he interprets his first form of language (659). The Creature isthen aware of the superiority difference between him and the family, andrealizes his subhuman decent of abandonment is consistent with the existence ofhis creator. The Creature soon plots his revenge upon his creator, who hadcursed his existence, ensuing in murder.
The Creature referred to as such,never earning the human characteristics of identification, coupled withabandonment and a crippling inferiority complex, ultimately leads to the murderof Victor’s brother, exemplifying social crisis. A description of the Creature’sappearance correlates with the characteristics of enslavement in thenineteenth-century Europe. The creature is described as an eight-foot-tall,monstrosity, with yellow skin, and black hair (45). His appearance highlights acontrast in skin color, and provides a correlation for how the creature isobserved in society. The relationship that the Creature shares with the DeLaceys is one that regards the family as “superior beings” that ultimately decidehis future (84). Their influence of language upon the creature presumablyinitiates his understanding of social constructions and hierarchy, and revealhis distant difference of appearance.
The De Laceys serve as his enslavement tosociety as a race of man horridly different, and thus influence him to thenmake the realization that he is property himself (559-662). Bugg claims, thiscorrelates with the social construct of slavery in the sense that a human wasdeemed as a property to someone of “superiority” of the particular race (559).The superior racial influence only pertains to wealth, which determined thehierarchy of an individual in the nineteenth century (662). The Creature’sgained knowledge of the social systems that would deem him subhuman, as well asthe relationship between human and master that induce oppression lead to socialcrisis. The revenge he exerts into his creator, creates to be a shift in power.
The Creature’s ambition leads him to demand a womanly counterpart, one as “wretched”as he was. This pursuit for the Creature signifies a shift in power between himand Victor, one that reduces Victor as a subhuman to his demand. The shift ispower in an underlying tone of social crisis, in that the treatment ofindividuals as subhuman, provides the individual with an ideology that willoverthrow the superiority of his creators.
Bugg suggests, Victor Frankenstein morphedinto the role of the “slave” at the height of the Creature’s power, and isconfided by a series of demands set forth by the Creature (664). Abolitionistideology states that the relationship of slave to master, or master to slave, wouldbring defeat to the master in his confinement of morality. Victor is overthrowninto the subhuman subjectivity of slavery from the superiority shift of masterto slave, and is subjected to the exact feelings of which inhabited hiscreation (664). This shift in power demonstrates social crisis deduced from thesubjectivity of treating one as subhuman. Mary Shelley uses a substantial amount ofdetail in Frankenstein; or The ModernPrometheus, to show a relationship of slave to master as a subjectivitythat will lead to social crisis. She intricately describes images that deducethe underlying motives in the book. Shelley provides a descriptive narrativerelating to the Creature’s tale of upbringing and influence to deduce thesubjective subhuman treatment of a human like form (82-87).
A specific imageportrayed through the intricate description of emotion and grief highlights thesub-humanistic worship of a slave to their master, “I formed in my imaginationa thousand pictures of presenting myself to them, and their reception of me. Iimagined that they would be disgusted, until, by my gentle demeanor andconciliating words, I should win their favour, and afterwards their love,” (84).This provides the reader with such a descriptive image of the Creatures worshiptoward the De Laceys, who were a figurative example of superiority, that shed afeeling of anguish onto the Creature. Mary Shelley describes the provoking ofemotion and desire in the Creature, and those superior, to form an underlyingimage that constitutes the idea of its subjectivity in the subhuman treatmentof a being. Frankenstein;or the Modern Prometheus hasenlightened me of the vast abnormality of our societal structure. Whatparticularly interest’s me is its timelessness; the general message conveyed inthis piece contributes to society’s superiority complexes of any time period. Ipersonally believe that Mary Shelley intended to acclimate to human naturethrough its horrors.
In her formulation of a science fiction novel, sheuncovers how human motives directly correlates with the subjective nature todeem one as subhuman. It is applicable to our society today. This subjectivenature of superiority applies to our problematic divisions of race and economicdistribution. Shelley does imply social constructs of the nineteenth century,but I personally see their relevance in our society today. We still educe manas diverse, that there are different forms, ethnicities, and social hierarchy.
That we fail to realize is that we are all the same, we are all made up of thesame bodily structures and mental processes that influence us, as humans. Noman should be treated as subhuman; the difference between each being on Earthis not one to rank, but one to embrace as we are all identically made up of thesame physical composition. Our society still embodies this ideology currentlyin our problems associated in racial oppression and gender identification (ColumbiaBusiness School 1). In Shelley’s novel,the Creature is not the monster in the end – its Victor Frankenstein. The Creaturedoes not identify by Frankenstein, but instead as “Creature.
” The monster ofthe story, is the one centered around the creation of a subhuman entity, thecreator being Victor Frankenstein. This emphasizes that social inequalityshould be the downfall of the intellect, and the upbringing of ignorance. Anyfoolishness regarding the sovereignty of man on our planet would be themonstrosity of our existence. Mary Shelley identifies that the treatmentof an individual as subhuman will lead to social crisis. The relationshipbetween the Creature and his creator help to exemplify this concept.
The Creatureis not granted the human characteristic of identification, which then provokesan inferiority complex in the Creature based on his wretched appearance andcursed creation. The Creature is substantially influenced as a slave, subhumanto society. The characteristics of slavery in the nineteenth century areportrayed through the Creature’s agony of realization (659).
The Creature isabandoned upon his appearance, and subjected to a life that portrays onerelated to slavery in the nineteenth century. The tranquility of birth andcreation are ravaged by death and existence of subhuman entities (Levine 9). TheCreature observes the De Laceys as a superior influence that will command himin the future. He is subjected to learn, through the acquisition of languageand knowledge, that he is of sub-status, and rather a creation of others thatsociety would repeal as superior. The Creature becomes thoroughly aware of thesocial constructs and hierarchies around him, and plots his revenge upon hiscreator, a tyrant of his cursed his creation. The Creature questions his creation,and in turn acquires power over his creator, murders his beloved beings, makesdemands, and forces Victor to be into the same feelings associated with hissubjectivity – to feel less than human.
Victor is ultimately the “monster” thesubject in his creation of an entity, and abandoned on upon his appearance.Victor imposes an invalid superiority over the Creature, which in turn, projectedhim as a monster of his own creation. Theperception of the social hierarchy that regards the difference of man assubhuman, is to the determine of our intellect, and a monstrosity to thesovereignty of man resulting in social crisis. “Volume Information.” Studies in the Novel, vol. 26, no. 4, 1994. JSTOR,JSTOR, www.
jstor.org/stable/29533006. Ty, Eleanor.
“Mary Wollstonecraft (Godwin) Shelley.” BritishRomantic Novelists, 1789-1832, editedby Bradford Keyes Mudge, Gale, Detroit, 1992. LiteratureResource Center,link.galegroup.com/apps/doc/H1200003608/LitRC?u=hvcc&sid=LitRC&xid=09ded099.Accessed Mar. 2017.
Shelley, Mary Wollonstonecraft, and RobertKiely. Frankenstein; or The Modern Prometheus. Courage Books, 1987. With essay from RobertKiely titled “Frankenstein.” Levine, George. “The Ambiguous Heritage ofFrankenstein.” The Endurance of Frankenstein: Essays on Mary Shelley’s Novel, University of California Press, 1991, pp. 3–30.
Columbia Business School. “Gender andrace: How overlapping stereotypes affect our personal and professionaldecisions.” ScienceDaily.
ScienceDaily, 3 December 2012.