FRANKENSTEIN, OR THE MODERN PROMETHEUS

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HIPPOLYTA Tis strange, my Theseus, that these lovers speak of.

THESEUS “More strange than true. I never may believe these antiques fables, nor these fairy toys. Lovers and madmen have such seething brains, such shaping fantasies, that apprehend more than cool reason ever comprehends. The lunatic, the lover, and the poet are of imagination all compact. One sees more devils than vast hell can hold: that is the madman. The lover, all as frantic, sees Helen’s beauty in a brow of Egypt.

The poet’s eye, in a fine frenzy rolling, doth glance from heaven to earth, from earth to heaven, and as imagination bodies forth the forms of things unknown, the poet’s pen turns them into shapes, and gives to airy nothing a local habitation and a name. Such tricks hath strong imagination that if it would but apprehend some joy it comprehends some bringer of that joy; or in the night, imagining some fear, how easy is a bush supposed a bear! Shakespeare, A midsummer’s night’s dream, Act 5, scene 5. “I busied myself to think of a story- a story to rival those which had excited us to this task. One which would speak of the mysterious fears of our nature, and awaken thrilling horror- one to make the reader dread to look around, to curdle the blood, and quicken the beatings of the heart.

If I did not accomplish these things, my ghost story would be unworthy of its name. I thought and pondered- vainly. I felt that blank incapability of invention which is the greatest misery of authorship, when dull Nothing replies to our anxious invocations”.[1] This Mary Shelley, in her introduction to the 1831 edition of the book, says about the way her “journey” with Frankenstein began. I believe this sentence comprehends most, if not all, of the themes and ideas that make of Frankenstein, or the Modern Prometheus, one of the best and most complex novels of the English literature, inspiration for many other writers and movie makers after her. Before getting into a critical analysis of the text itself, I believe the title already needs some analysis. Frankenstein, or the Modern Prometheus…We gather then that the main character will be someone or something called Frankenstein. And I would underline that something. Frankenstein is indeed the main character of the play, Doctor Victor Frankenstein, a man, a scientist, a “philosopher”, a son, a brother, a friend, a “romantic”, a creator… comparable to God itself.

With such a characterization, M. Shelley created a character that embodies a myth. “The theme of the Frankenstein myth is the getting and using of knowledge, and the power that knowledge may confer, a power dramatized by the creation of life. Ambivalence about knowledge is, of course, a staple of myths in many cultures, from Prometheus to the Garden of Eden”.[2] The Modern Prometheus, then… This theme was of great interest for M.Shelley and her entourage. Percy Bysshe Shelley, for example, wrote a verse drama in 1819 titled “Prometheus Unbound”, in which he voiced his revolutionary idealism. Like Prometheus in the greek myth brought fire to mankind, punished then by Zeus for his disobedience, Frankenstein intends to bring knowledge to mankind, a kind of knowledge that, in his hopes, will free mankind more and more, and be source of happiness.

The difference between the two Prometheus lies in the fact that we are now in the 19th Century. Human conditions have “progressed” (and I will try to illustrate in which fields later on) and we now live in “Modernity”. Shelly wrote Frankenstein in a period that Berman sees as “making the end of the first phase of Modernity and the beginning of the second”.[3] The French Revolution had just taken place, symbol of a major change in the structure of thought. “To be modern is to find ourselves in an environment that promises us adventure, power, joy, growth, transformation of ourselves and the world- and at the same time threatens to destroy everything we know, everything we are”.[4] This ambivalence we always have to bear in mind when analyzing the book, its characters, and even more the personality of Mary herself and the Romantic atmosphere.

Therefore, Frankenstein “invites, even requires, alternative readings because its myth core is so flexible, polymorphous, and dependent on antithetical possibilities”.[5] The French Revolution, called by I. Berlin a “great liberating act”, showed in a way that man cannot seek freedom through politics, but rather through ethics and aesthetics. It follows then a definition of Romanticism as a restoration of man as cultural, philosophical and artistic freedom, seen as tension towards infinity. Still, this does not imply a denial of the past, but on the contrary, a claim “to arrive at a higher form of Classicism. […] No revolution before Romanticism had promised a universal synthesis- even a critical synthesis- that would incorporate all the achievements of the past. The final Romantic pretension was the poeticizing, or “romanticizing”, of life itself”.[6] This way the artist shouted out their freedom, and from now on “all attempts to set up an authoritarian culture meet with invincible resistance”.[7] Furthermore, it does not matter to the artist the way to find freedom, feelings and expression, what matters is the constant tension to it, as we read in Dr. Frankenstein’s words: “Nothing is more painful to the human mind than, after the feelings have been worked up by a quick succession of events, the dead calmness of inaction and certainty which follows and deprives the soul of both hope and fear”.[8] One of the protagonists of the novel is definitely Nature.

Since the very beginning, we read of Dr. Walton undertaking a very challenging expedition to the North Pole. He is “hungry for knowledge”, and does not care about the risks, but again, this is why that challenge was worth it. “Did you not call this a glorious expedition? And wherefore was it glorious? Not because the way was smooth and placid as a southern sea, but because it was full of dangers and terror, because at every new incident your fortitude was to be called forth, and your courage exhibited, because danger and death surrounded it, and these you were to brave and overcome”. (p. 207) Dangers and terror then, that is nature. But nature is also the only place where the worthiness of a man resides, where we can find self-realization and freedom. As Victor says: “…and the moon gazed on my midnight labours, while, with unrelaxed and breathless eagerness, I pursued nature to her hiding-places”. (p.52)

It is this game of good and evil – “While I watched the tempest, so beautiful yet terrific” (p. 73)- that the romantic genius believes in, and dares to play. The way he does it is in the first place by trying to understand those “magic” forces that are in nature. Schelling, for example, gave life again to the debate on the magic-occult ideas of nature of Giordano Bruno (also see the interest M. Shelley had for the Arabic and Persian languages, always considered to have something “magic” about them). We might not realize it nowadays, but for those who witnessed it, the first experiments with electricity or dissection of corpses must have been a real shocking experience. The growing power of science saw scientists like Galvani, Dalton and Volta making experiments with electricity on corpses, imagining at the horizon the possibility of “resuscitating” dead people, or at least cure the ill with it. P. Shelley in the Preface to the 1818 edition of Frankenstein, even states that “the event on which this fiction is founded has been supposed, by Dr. Darwin and some of the physiological writers of Germany, as not of impossible occurrence”. (p. 11) Victor’s desire of banishing “disease from the human frame and render man invulnerable to any but a violent death” (p.39), makes him recall his first experience of electricity, when he witnessed “a most violent and terrible thunderstorm. […] I remained while the storm lasted, watching its progress with curiosity and delight. As I stood at the door, on a sudden I beheld a stream of fire issue from an old and beautiful oak which stood about 20 yards from our house; and so soon as the dazzling light vanished, the oak had disappeared, and nothing remained but a blasted stump. When we visited it the next morning, we found the tree shattered in a singular manner. It was not splintered by the shock, but entirely reduced to thin ribbons of wood. I never beheld anything so utterly destroyed”. (p.39) This was his first approach to the laws of electricity. It came from Nature.

As I mentioned earlier on, another important scientifical issue at the time was the dissection of corpses, more in general, anatomy. This was starting to be a common practice, but was also a social issue. “Whence, I often asked myself, did the principle of life proceed? […] To examine the cause of life, we must first have recourse to death. I became acquainted with the science of anatomy, but this was not sufficient; I must also observe the natural decay and corruption of the human body.” (p.49) In order to do this, scientists needed to have corpses at their disposal, and most of the times they managed to get them through illegal ways.

As explained by some academics of the field, the problem was of such large dimensions that the family of the deceased would guard the grave for weeks after the death of their relative, and the richer ones would even build up some sort of “fortified” tombs to make sure no one could go and disinter the corpses, for which there was a real market. We are now coming to see how strongly and passionately Victor, a real romantic, in this sense, believed in his power and creative abilities, to the point where he will substitute himself to God. Victor, like Beethoven (“The figure who dominates the 19th Century as an image is the tousled figure of Beethoven in his garret”[9], who locks himself up in his room and as passionately as it gets, composes his symphonies) is a “man who does what is in him”[10]. His work, like Beethoven’s, “sets in motion the lever of fear, of awe, of horror, of suffering, and awakens that infinite longing which is the essence of Romanticism”.[11] The first description of Victor we encounter, and we can easily recognize the romantic themes in it, is the one given by Dr. Walton: “I never saw a more interesting creature: his eyes have generally an expression of wildness, and even madness, but there are moments when, if anyone performs an act of kindness towards him or does him any the most trifling service, his whole countenance is lighted up, as it were, with a beam of benevolence and sweetness that I never saw equaled. But he is generally melancholy and despairing, and sometimes he gnashes his teeth, as if impatient of the weight of woes that oppresses him.” (p. 25)

We can see in Victor an opposition to the Enlightenment “scientism”, which he calls would-be science: “… and entertained the greatest disdain for a would-be science which could never stop within the threshold of real knowledge. In this mood of mind I betook myself to the mathematics and the branches of study appertaining to that science as being built upon secure foundations, and so worthy of my consideration”. (p. 40) In the end, what he wanted was that something that inspired all romantics: he “wanted to master the unknown and make it harmless; to praise it and make it superior to man would have been intellectual suicide and self-destruction”[12]. The unknown, we said, which is definitely linked to the concept of “sublime”: “During my youthful days discontent never visited my mind, and if I was ever overcome by ennui the sight of what is beautiful in nature or the study of what is excellent and sublime in the productions of man could always interest my heart (N.B. she does not write “my mind”, but “my heart”…) and communicate elasticity to my spirits”. (p.155)

As I mentioned before, by doing so Victor will in a way substitute himself to God, and we can then see Frankenstein a scientifically updated version of the “Faust” theme. Frankenstein wants to overcome man’s limitations and acquire God-like power over physical matters. He is a learned man who wants to put into practice all the knowledge and scientific discoveries of his time. His creature, (a monster…) becomes a symbol for the Romantic hero, outcast from the society. He’s a man who suffers for no specific faults of his own. Also, I would like to underline, with Hauser, that the Romantics’ atheism was not a denial of God, but rather a “revolt” against him, a fight against God as an oppressor like implicitly characterized by religion. The theme of scientific research is connected to the development of science in the period and the desire the Romantic had to penetrate the secrets of life. The tragic outcome of Frankenstein may be read as an implicit criticism of the Romantic tendencies to rival God. We witness here a refusal of all a priori conceptions and ideals, since “ideals are not to be discovered at all, they are to be invented; not to be found but to be generated, as art is generated. […] Those are the fundamental bases of Romanticism: will, the fact that there is no structure to things, that you can mould things as you will- they come into being only as a result of your moulding activity- and therefore opposition to any view which tried to represent reality as having some kind of form which could be studied, written down, learnt, communicated to other”.[13]

Victor is therefore an artist, in the sense that he tries to create out of nothing what his will tells him to; a scientist because that is the field he is passionate about (and we also need to bear in mind here the interest that English romantics, and Shelley in the first place, had for the “machine”, for automata and chemistry, highly influenced by the Industrial revolution); and ultimately God, because he tries to do what so far people were told that only God could do: give life. As soon as the creature is born, though, a veil of pessimism darkens the whole scenario. “Conflict, collision, tragedy, death- all kinds of horrors- are inevitably involved in the nature of the universe. The view is therefore fatalistic and pessimistic, not scientific and optimistic, not even spiritual and optimistic, in any sense of the word”.[14]

I will now look at the ideas expressed through the characterization of Victor’s creature. The first description we have of the person sometimes called “creature”, some other times “the fiend” or “the monster” (never given a proper name), is given by Victor. It is here that we find the first acknowledgment of the beginning of a catastrophe: “How can I describe my emotions at this catastrophe, or how delineate the wretch whom with such infinite pains and cares I had endeavoured to form? His limbs were in proportion, and I had selected his features as beautiful. Beautiful! Great God! His yellow skin scarcely covered the work of muscles and arteries beneath; his hair was of a lustrous black, and flowing; his teeth of pearly whiteness; but these luxuriances only formed a more horrid contrast with his watery eyes, that seemed almost of the same colour as the dun-white sockets in which they were set, his shriveled complexion and straight black lips.” (p. 55) So, Victor originally wanted to create beauty, but it all turned out into ugliness. On the surface only, though, as we will realize when looking at the creature’s personality. But this is the very point where the tragedy of the “creature” starts.

The ambivalence of the “creature” is again a theme of Romanticism: “Romanticism is the primitive, the untutored, it is youth, life, the exuberant sense of life of the natural man, but it is also pallor, fever, disease, decadence, the maladie du siecle”.[15] First of all, birth. Or actually, re-birth, an idea that was not new to Romanticism. The creature looks like an adult, but inside he is a child, taking his first steps into the world. Shelley dedicates a lot of time to the description oh his “growing up” process, which is amazingly moving. The creature is impressed by the change of day and night (p. 99), by sounds (“I was delighted when I first discovered that a pleasant sound, which often saluted my ears, proceeded from the throats of the little winged animals who had often intercepted the light from my eyes. […] Sometimes I tried to imitate the pleasant songs of the birds but was unable. Sometimes I wished to express my sensations in my own mode, but the uncouth and inarticulate sounds which broke from me frightened me into silence again.” (p. 99) How beautiful is that…!). Also, he experiences the ambivalence of nature through fire: “One day, when I was oppressed by cold, I found a fire […] and was overcome with delight at the warmth I experienced from it. In my joy, I thrust my hand into the live embers, but quickly drew it out again with a cry of pain. How strange, I thought, that the same cause should produce such opposite effects.” (p. 100)

The theme of fire (and ice, too) is very popular in the literature of the period, and we will see later on how it expresses, in M. Shelley’s view, one of the best representations of liveliness. The more the creature grows up, the hungrier he becomes for knowledge. In Chapter 15, he tells Victor of how deeply the readings he had done effected his intellect, Milton’s Paradise Lost, Plutarch’s Lives, and Goethe’s Sorrows of Wether: “I felt the greatest ardour for virtue rise within me, and abhorrence of vice, as far as I understood the signification of those terms, relative as they were, as I applied them, to pleasure and pain alone.” (p. 124) Something I believe worth of attention is the possibility that the creature might even be better than most human beings: “My food is not that of man; I do not destroy the lamb and the kid to glut my appetite.” (p. 141) His honesty, sensitivity and purity are overwhelming. But people, still, are not able to see beyond his appearance. The first proper kind of “affection” for human beings, he feels it for those people he calls his “protectors” (“for so I loved, in an innocent, half-painful self-deceit, to call them.” p. 117), one of them called, not by chance, I gather, Felix, which in ancient Latin stands for “happy”… Very moving is the moment when, after months of just observing them and helping them out without them knowing who he was, he is warmly greeted by the blind grandfather, who, with parental affection, caresses him. But again, it all ends in disillusion and abuse when the relatives of the blind man come back home and see the looks of the creature. This is a turning point. The creature cannot cope with this constant rejection anymore (“Life, although it may only be an accumulation of anguish, is dear to me” (p.95), very romantic, again), and turns his virtue into sorrow and revenge. It is in his conversation with Victor that the creature sees himself as a “fallen angel”, theme very much explored by Milton. “Remember I am thy creature; I ought to be Adam, but I am rather the fallen angel, whom thou drivest from joy for no misdeed.” (p. 96)

Victor is God, and his creature is Lucifer, allegorically, suffering of his exclusion from humankind. The reference to Milton is explicit: “But Paradise Lost excited different and far deeper emotions. I read it, as I had read the other volumes which had fallen into my hands, as a true history. It moved every feeling of wonder and awe that the picture of an omnipotent God warring with his creatures was capable of exciting. I often referred the several situations, as their similarity struck me, to my own. Like Adam, I was apparently united by no link to any other being in existence; but his state was far different from mine in every other respect. He had come forth from the hands of God a perfect creature, happy and prosperous, guarded by the especial care of his Creator; he was allowed to converse with and acquire knowledge from beings of a superior nature, but I was wretched, helpless, and alone. Many times I considered Satan as the fitter emblem of my condition, for often, like him, when I viewed the bliss of my protectors, the bitter gal of envy rose within me.” (p.125)

Another important “romantic” idea is the one of “home-sickness”. As Hauser says: “Whenever the romantics describe their outlook on art and the world, the word or the idea of homelessness creeps into their sentences. […] They suffer from their estrangement from the world, but they also accept and desire it. […] The incompatibility of the moral claims of the individual with the conventions of society had already been part of the new concept of man defined by Rousseau and Goethe, and the portrayal of the hero as an eternally homeless wonderer, doomed by his own unsociable nature, is already to be found Senancour and Constant.”[16] Having mentioned Rousseau gives me the chance to say a word about the important concept of the split-ego, another theme always present in Frankenstein. If Romanticism deals with any conflict, that is no more the conflict between man and society in the first place, but rather the conflict between man and himself. This conflict we see it clearly in Victor (the creature can be seen as his split-ego, the representation of the “himself” that was hidden inside him) and in the creature himself, “virtuous” at first, and vicious murderer at the same time, loving and full of hate.

Diderot already, during the Enlightenment, had put forward the idea that there are two men in each of us: the artificial one (reflecting and acting in society) and the violent and dark one, the “genius”. The philosophe Rousseau, one of the fathers of Romanticism, saw in the “noble savage” the best type of human being, pure and not corrupt. We can surely identify this idea with the creature. “The inner strife of the romantic soul is reflected nowhere so directly and expressively as in the figure of the “second-self” which is always present to the romantic mind and recurs in innumerable forms and variations in romantic literature.” But where does it come from? As Hauser goes on: “The source of this idee fixe is unmistakable: it is the irresistible urge to introspection, the maniacal tendency to self-observation and the compulsion to consider oneself over and over again as one unknown, as an uncannily remote stranger. […] The romantic rushes headlong into his “double”, just as he rushes headlong into everything dark and ambiguous, chaotic and ecstatic, demonic and dionysian, and seeks therein merely a refuge from the reality which he is unable to master by rational means. On this flight from reality, he discovers the unconscious, that which is hidden away in safety from the rational mind, the source of his wish-fulfillment dreams and of the irrational solutions of his problems. He discovers that […] he carries his demon and his judge about with him.”[17] This will be the basic material for psychoanalysis, and to some extent, will also be discussed by writers and philosophers, like Nietzsche.

I now want to look at another important theme very present in Frankenstein: the importance of child up-bringing. It is here that we see clear biographical insights of the author. “All men hate the wretched; how, then, must I be hated, who am miserable beyond all living things! Yet you, my creator, detest and spurn me, thy creature, to whom thou art bound by ties only dissoluble by the annihilation of one of us.[…] Do your duty towards me, and I will do mine towards you and the rest of mankind.” (p. 95) Parents do have duties towards they children, and the future happiness of the child seems to depend a lot on the way they are brought up. M. Shelley had read her mother’s work “Vindication of the rights of women”, which surely had great influence on her. To understand this, we need to know some of the basic biographical facts. In 1797, Mary Wollstonecraft Godwin from postpartum hemorrhage. In the novel, Victor’s mother dies the same way, giving birth to William. William Godwin’s (M. Shelley’ father) remarries in 1801 (U.C. Knoepflemacher argues here that the “double-impulse” monster reflects the ambivalent feelings she held for her father). It is very likely that Mary did not cope well with the situation: she missed a real family. In 1815, Mary gives birth to a premature female child, which dies. This event was cause of great unhappiness for Mary. Feeling probably guilty already for the death of her mother, she cannot be mother herself, not yet: “Dream that my little baby came to life again; that it had only been cold, and that we rubbed it before the fire, and it lived” (from Mary’s Journal). Here we see again the theme of ice and fire.

This event is of great importance for a proper understanding of the novel, since Frankenstein is a birth myth, and one that was lodged in the novelist’s imagination, I am convinced, by the fact that she was herself a mother.” [18]In 1816, Mary’s half-sister, Fanny, commits suicide. Same year, the body of Harriet Shelley, Percy’s wife, is found drowned in the Serpentine, Hyde Park. To who has read Mary’s novel, this does not sound new either…In 1818-19, William and Clara Shelley, son and daughter of the couple Mary and Percy, die in Italy. In 1819 Mary’s only child to survive is born, Percy Florence. In 1822, Percy Shelley dies, drowned in the Gulf of Spezia. Mary’s father will die in 1831, and Mary in 1851. As we can see from this very succinct biography, Mary had all the reasons to need “love”, and desperately seeked it. We can even say that it is “love” the omnipresent feeling in the novel, “love” and the absence of it, that moves it all. Every character in the novel “misses” home, and especially their loved ones. The desire of friendship we see it in the creature as in Walton (“I have no friend. […] I desire the company of a man who could sympathize with me, whose eyes would reply to mine.” (p. 17)), and in the strong affection between Victor and Henry Clerval.

Lack of love is also the reason why the creature will destroy his creator, who denies him a female companion (so important to the creature that “for that one creature’s sake I would make peace with the whole kind!” (p. 141), and again the reference to Mary’s troubled motherhood is clear). As a consequence, Elizabeth, Victor’s wife, will be killed on their first night of marriage. But love is also what the creature feels for Victor, and what makes him cry when he sits next to dead body of his creator. It seems an unsolvable contradiction. These the many different and complex structures of relationships we encounter in the novel. I find interesting what E. Moers says to this regard: “What M. Shelley actually did in Frankenstein was to transform the standard romantic matter of incest, infanticide and patricide, into a phantasmagoria of the nursery.”[19] This point rises the debate on Frankenstein as a feminist work of literature.

There is no doubt that because of her background Mary had been influenced by feminism issues (her mother was one of the first feminists in history). This is argued by some in showing how all the main characters in the book are men; M. Shelley portrays a male-dominated society, where it all ends in a big failure (symbolic, to this purpose, the destruction of the female monster, whose life is negated even before being born- ultimate negation of the “rights of women”). The work can therefore be seen as the one of a strong and intellectual woman, a want-to-be-mother, who suffers the struggle for self-expression and self-realization in the male-dominated society of her times (and it is not surprising then, that the work was first published in 1818 anonymously). It therefore constitutes a powerful critique, of the social structures she had to live in: “Kate Ellis reads Frankenstein as an antibourgeois fiction in which M. Shelley relies on her mother’s “A vindication of the rights of women” to dramatize the radical failure of family structures at a time when home and production have become separated”[20] (we should remember that those were the times of the Industrial Revolution). A great deal of attention is therefore given to the description of feelings (as to nature, to which feelings are inevitably correlated), through which M. Shelley shows an amazing sensitivity and sense of introspection: “The dashing waves were around, the cloudy sky above, the fiend was not here: a sense of security, a feeling that a truce was established between the present hour and the irresistible, disastrous future imparted to me a kind of calm forgetfulness, of which the human mind is by its structure peculiarly susceptible.” (p. 178).

In conclusion, I would like to briefly analyze the style of M. Shelley’s novel. As discussed by Rosen and Zerner, “for the early Romantic authors, the novel contains poetry, passages and dramatic dialogue, literary criticism, philosophy, familiar letters, and anything else the author can think of.”[21] This, which we surely see it in Frankenstein, is due to the fact that Romantic writing is progressive, always changing and evolving, poetically comprehensive of all contradictions and ambivalences, poeticizing life and death, the beautiful and the ugly. The theme of the ugly is also of great importance. Many authors after Shelley (let us think of E.A.Poe, H. Lovecraft, D. Hawthorne and B. Stoker) will make “the ugly” the developing centre of their work. After all, the ugly is what moves us… “The ugly is dynamic where the beautiful is static: the beautiful is always directly related to the human organism and the ugly alone offers man a means of transcending his nature. The ugly is, in art, the essential agent of development; it represents everything that is non-art which can be incorporated into art, a frontier that can be endlessly pushed back.”[22] This was the position of V. Hugo, for example, and constitutes the premises of Realism. Because of its characteristics, Frankenstein is usually compared to the genre of the Gothic novella, but it differs from it in some important respects. It is not set in a Gothic castle and it does not deal with supernatural events. It deals with a scientific experiment and the horror derived from the unexpected outcome.

The Gothic element is to be found in the description of the parts of the corpse of the monster, in the dreadful setting and the creation of an emotional atmosphere: “The more bewildering the chaos, the more radiant the star, it is hoped, that will emerge from it. Hence the cult of the mysterious and nocturnal, of the bizarre and the grotesque, the horrible and the ghostlike, the diabolical and the macabre, the pathological and the perverse.”[23] The language used is therefore really strong and powerful (as it was typical at the time, if we think of the various fragments by, for example, Novalis) as it is the structure of the narration, always in the first person, a narration (the creature’s)-within-a-narration (Frankenstein’s)-within-a-narration (Walton’s), resulting in great vividness and realism. Also, the novel starts with the narration of Walton and ends the same way (circular structure). Worth of notice is to some extent, the language usage of the creature. In his dialectic with nature, “his first idea demonstrate the process of Lockean sensationalism and Hartleyan associationism. His discovery of language implies Rousseau’s argument, in the “Essai sur l’origin des langues”, that language springs from passion rather than need.”[24] Quite surprisingly, the creature, thanks to his readings, becomes very eloquent: “From his words, he shows himself to be a supreme rhetorician of his own situation, one who controls the antitheses and oxymorons that express the pathos of his existence.”[25]

It is with the figure of the creature, the monster, the fiend, that I would like to end this seminar paper; more precisely with a sentence from M. Wollstonecraft’s “A vindication of the rights of women”: “We see a folly swell into vice, by almost imperceptible degrees, and pity while we blame; but, if the hideous monster burst suddenly on our sight, fear and disgust rendering us more serve than man ought to be, might lead us with blind zeal to usurp the character of omnipotence and demoniacal damnation of our fellow mortals, forgetting that we cannot read the heart and that we have seeds of the same vices lurking in our own.”[26]

BIBLIOGRAPHY
Shelley, Frankenstein, 1994, Penguin Classics
Williams, Keywords, 1983, Fontana Press
Berman, All that is solid melts into air, 1983, Verso
Levine/ U.C. Knoepflmacher, The endurance of Frankenstein, 1979, California University Press
Turney, Frankenstein’s footsteps, 1998, Yale University Press
Berlin, The roots of Romanticism, 1999, Princeton University Press
Wollstonecraft, A vindication of the rights of women, Penguin Classics
Rosen/ Zerner, Romanticism & Realism, 1984, Faber
Copplestone, History of Philosophy (Section on Kant)
Hauser, The social history of art, Vol. 3, 1951, Routledge & Kegan Paul
AUDIO TAPE- P. Foot on “Poetry and Revolution” VIDEO TAPES- K. Branagh, Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, 1994, Tristar – Frankenstein, from The South Bank Show

[1] M. Shelley, Frankenstein, 1994, Penguin Popular Classics, p.7-8
[2] J. Turney, Frankenstein’s footsteps, 1998, Yale University Press, p.13
[3] Ibid., p.7
[4] M. Berman, All that is solid melts into air, 1982, Verso, p.15
[5] G. Levine/ U.C. Knoepflmaker, The endurance of Frankenstein, 1979, University of California Press, p. XIV
[6] Rosen & Zerner, Romanticism and Realism, 1984, Faber, p.24
[7] A. Hauser, The social History of Art, vol. 3, 1951, Routledge & Kegan, p.148
[8] M.Shelley, Frankenstein, p.86
[9] I. Berlin, The roots of Romanticism, 1999, Princeton University Press, p. 13
[10] Ibid., p.13
[11] Rosen/Zerner, Romanticism & Realism, 1984, Faber, quoting Hoffmann, p.34
[12] A. Hauser, The social history of art, p.165
[13] I. Berlin, The roots of Romanticism, p. 87, 127.
[14] Ibid., p. 56
[15] Ibid., p.16 [16] A. Hauser, The social history of art, p. 164 & 199
[17] Ibid., p.170
[18] G. Levine/U.C.Knoepflmacher, The endurance of Frankenstein, essay on Female Gothic, by E. Moers
[19] Ibid., p. 87
[20] Ibid., p. 88
[21] Rosen/Zerner, Romanticism & Realism, p.17 [22] Ibid., p.19 [23] A. Hauser, The social history of art, vol.3, p. 170 [24] G.Levine/U.C.Knoepflmacher, The endurance of Frankenstein, essay by P. Brooks, p. 209
[25] Ibid., p. 207
[26] M. Wollstonecraft, A vindication of the rights of women, Penguin Classics, p. 212-213

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