Thursday, September 22, 2011


Lynn Ward illustrated an edition of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein and put his own interpretations into the novel. The images add another layer to the story and give the reader/ viewer another angle and interpretation. On page 150 ½ Ward’s image is of the scene when the creature attempts to befriend the De Lacey’s, but Felix beats him with a stick instead. The way Ward depicts the relationship between Felix, the creature, and the viewer is meant to evoke sympathy for the creature. Ward depicts a helpless creature and forces the viewer to feel compassion for him.

In this image the creature is the victim. With the text alone we sympathize with the monster, but we can also see Felix’s and the rest of the De Lacey family’s side of the story. The image however only sides with the creature. The creature is on the floor flailing his legs and in a completely vulnerable position. This was the monster’s last chance to become accepted and in his rejection he is completely vulnerable both emotionally and, as Ward shows us, physically. The creature had been described as a gargantuan superhuman so it is astonishing that Felix even managed to knock him to the ground. Ward shows a creature that is so vulnerable and helpless, who is easily knocked down and fails about leaving his body and face unprotected. We see he is reaching out but not in a defensive gesture, but rather a last ditch effort to beg for acceptance. The text does describe the monster being knocked down and beaten, but Ward’s depiction is one of a completely defenseless and unprotected creature. The text reveals that the monster was capable of reacting and he just held back, but Ward’s image essentially shows a creature that is incapable of any reaction other then reaching out and hoping for acceptance one last time.

Ward also shows sympathy for the creature by placing the viewer down on the floor with the monster. The viewer is down on the ground and forced to look up at Felix wielding his branch. The viewer is placed down in a corner on the same level as the creature. It makes us sympathize with the creature. We are down on the ground as the monster is being beaten. The viewer is also placed in harms way. We too are beneath Felix and he could strike us with the branch just as easily as he can strike the monster. We are also forced to experience what the creature feels emotionally. The creature consistently places himself below humans. He longs to be accepted by them and dreams to be one of them. In Ward’s image, his emotional status is echoed in his physical position. The creature is placed below all 3 humans in the image, as is the viewer. The viewer simultaneously experiences the creature’s everyday feeling of being below humans and the vulnerability of the creature in the scene. Ward is directing the viewer to sympathize with the creature by putting us on his level and forcing us to consider the creatures’ physical and emotional position.

Another sympathetic decision by Ward is to not show the Father in his depiction of the scene. This is another way we are forced to sympathize with the creature. By excluding the Father we are less likely to sympathize with the De Lacey’s and less likely to find the actions of Felix acceptable. If Ward had wanted us to Sympathize with the De Lacey’s he could have placed the image of the blind and frail old man in the scene. Felix’s intentions are to protect his family from the horrid beast in his home and he reacts with a reasonable yet rushed response, but that is not what this image depicts. If Ward had wanted to show Felix’s intentions in a good light he could have placed his father in a clump on the floor having been knocked over after Felix ripped the creature from his knees. He could have accented the frailty of the old man and given us a reason to sympathize with Felix, but he didn’t. He chooses instead to show only the other members of the family. First there is Felix prominently placed in the center of the image, wielding a branch above his head. He towers over the helpless monster, which is an odd juxtaposition, for the monster is the usually the superhuman figure towering over others. Then in the doorway we see Agatha covering her face and fainting at the sight of the hideous monster and Safie turning to run away in fear. The image is forcing your sympathies to lie with the monster.

Ward uses his image to guide the reader to feel for the creature. The image is not simply showing Felix beating the creature; it implies more. By placing us down with the creature and showing him completely helpless Ward turns our focus and compassion to the feelings of the creature.


  1. I think the first paragraph should focus on the "argument" that Lynd Ward is attempting to make. Instead of explicitly telling the reader what is happening in the image, I think it is more interesting and effective to describe the event throughout your essay. In doing so you can break down the image into its specific aspects and at the same time, comment on their meaning.

    In the second paragraph, you are basically discussing the position of the monster's body but I think you jump from textual arguments to visual and back again too often. There is a need to mention the text but the prompt asked for a discussion of Ward's image and by referencing the text too much, it takes away from the focus on Ward. Also, the sentence "Ward shows a creature that is so vulnerable and helpless, who is easily knocked down and fails about leaving his body and face unprotected" confused me. Maybe I'm just reading it wrong.

    The third paragraph brings up a good point about the point of view, but the paragraph itself seemed very redundant. I really liked what you said about the viewer being forced to experience his emotions.

    The fourth paragraph brings up a very good point about the fact that DeLacy isn't in the image--I thought this was very interesting.

    The fifth paragraph could use a little more (you only address the point of view). I know you don't need to reiterate every point of the previous 4 paragraphs but your conclusion is selling the rest of your points short. Maybe comment on the success of Ward's effort?

  2. I fully agree with Alison's comments, so I'm going to elaborate on what she said, rather than repeating her work. To me, the central problem is, indeed, that you aren't really explicitly talking about Ward's argument - I think the reason for that is a huge assumption you make.

    You assert, without demonstrating, that in the text it's possible to sympathize either with the monster or with the De Laceys; you also state, without exploring the problem, that including the father in the image would make us less symphatetic (wouldn't that depend on how he was portrayed, or what he was doing?).

    Probably your actually argument - the thing which needs to be defended - would have two parts.
    1) Ward's "reading" of the monster is highly symphatetic
    2) This "reading" is good/bad for reasons x, y, and z

    But you don't actually prove/defend the argument itself.

    Your "reading" if the image is quite good (although I'd like more about the woman, and about Felix himself - you repeat yourself talking about the monster), but it isn't focused enough as an argument.

  3. Remember, also, that you are supposed to be *evaluating* ward's argument, not just identifying it.