Tuesday, September 20, 2011

A Monster Becoming a God

Through the words of Mary Shelley in the novel, Frankenstein, Lynd Ward is able to depict and illustrate the creation of Victor Frankenstein. On page 242 the creature is seen standing on top of the icy Alps. He has a bold, dark presence contrasting with the tall, white mountains. His image is repeated as in previous images: a larger than human body; unique body posture; a face that cannot be seen. In contrast to the other images, the monster is now in nature, his natural state, in a position of a god-like figure.

At first glance, the mountains are the image that fills up the majority of the illustration. These mountains are large and resemble the Egyptian pyramids. The Egyptians were empowered for a very long time and Victor previously made references of becoming powerful enough to change the human species to a new mutant-like one. In the past pharos had slaves build these pyramids for them because they had ultimate control over them. This is the “god-like” image pharos sent off to others and the idea that Victor once wished to achieve; however, the roles have changed and the creature now controls Victor and his journey to murder the beast.

Victor is solely the monster’s play toy, just as the monster started off being Victor’s play toy. The monster decided who in Victor’s life should live and who should die; he takes all the lives of Victor’s close relationships. After Victor is at his wits end with the monster and decides to slay the monster, it is the monster who decides if he will allow Victor to kill him or not. Being faster and stronger than Victor, the monster is able to beat Victor no matter what. Having this power to decide life or death proves the monster’s god-like power and status.

Looking more closely at the creature, Ward depicts him as more un-human. Continuing his images, the monster still has the long legs and arms. One of his legs is on one mountain while the other is on another mountain. No human, regardless of how tall he or she may be, is able to stand across mountains. This continues the creature’s image to be god-like. Furthermore, the creature is able to run across the ice in twenty minutes compared to Victor’s two hour journey. Being able to run quickly and perceive areas of thin ice more quickly than a human shows his supernatural and superhuman abilities. Just like there is a king of the jungle, the monster is the king of all nature. When he is standing on the top of the mountains, he is on his throne. Being at such a high point that is so close to the heavens portrays the god-like image given off by the monster yet again.

Unlike the movie illustrations of the monster, Ward has a vision of the monster being able to move very quickly with his long legs. The idea that there is a creature that is more powerful than humans is not a common, blockbuster-winning movie character. The movies may have made Frankenstein slow because the idea of something being unstoppable by humans is unfathomable. A majority of movies must have a good guy and when there is a conflict between humans and something that is not human, humans are normally the protagonist. Moreover, having the ideal that stronger and faster is worse is an unconventional idea that is hard to be accepted by the audience. It is normal for people to believe becoming faster and stronger is progress and with the harmful and scary connotations of the monster being faster and stronger, progress is being attacked.

In comparison to the image on page 151, where the monster is being crushed by the figurative limbs of society, he is standing tall and sturdy when he is in his natural element—nature. On top of the mountain in nature, the monster is free and finally accepted by his surroundings. There is no need to try and fit in with society because he is the only creature with the ability to survive in that setting. It is almost as if the creature is overlooking and judging the icy world below him. His arms are crossed in a sense of either approval or disapproval. It is possible he may be satisfied with his revenge of Victor or satisfied that he is in his natural element and able to outperform any normal human. On the other hand, it may be a stature of dissatisfaction with his creator. He may be dissatisfied with the path of decisions Victor has chosen causing the creature’s rage and actions to take the lives of Victor’s social relations.


  1. On the whole, this is a good critique of the image. You pulled from all different aspects of the image in order to form a full analysis and developed essay. I think that a couple specific quotes would have helped further your argument and made each of your main points a little more powerful. Not sure if you needed to compare images from the book to images from the movie, but doesn't hurt. Also, make sure to reiterate main points in your conclusion. Overall, analyzed the image very well!

  2. Like Jennie said, I'm not sure you gained much from bringing in the movie here. Also, he's probably not in the Alps - this is almost surely the ice of the frozen arctic sea. Those are nitpicks, though.

    I'm happy with the visual analysis; I'm especially happy with how you relate it back to pg. 151. The monster defeated vs. the monster triumphant is an idea which you develop well. You're slightly wordy - there are only so many ways to say that the monster is godlike - but the point is important and good.

    But remember that you're supposed to *evaluate* Ward's interpretation.

    If Ward sees the monster as Godlike, triumphant, and in his element (an argument you've justified) how do you feel about that?

    Remember that the monster claims to hate himself, and to be about to kill himself, at the end of the novel, as he crosses the arctic ice.

    Is this desire to die related to his godlike stature, or does it contradict it? Does Ward reconcile them, or his he (by making him godlike, as you discuss) giving a fundamentally different interpretation of the monster.

    This was an excellent, thoughtful start, but if you'd pushed yourself a little farther, you would have fulfilled the prompt better.