Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Nothing can stop it.

Image on Page 160

Taking over more than half of the frame, the monster is unquestionably larger than any other living human being. His enormous, darkened limbs strangle poor William while his head is bowed downwards towards the ground hiding his face. Besides the monster's fine, smooth hair and defined, chiseled muscles, the rest of his body and physical features are more animalistic than humanistic. Not showing the entirety of both of his hands, the reader, like the monster, cannot be aware of the monster's true strength. "The child struggles, and loaded me with epithets which carried despair to my hearing; I grasped his throat to silence him, and in a moment he lay dead at my feet." (Shelley 160)
However, I think Lynd Ward successfully illustrates the monster's arched back and position directly above William in order to prove a major point of the novel. No matter what the circumstance or situation may be, this monster will always come out on top. He is literally and figuratively above this boy. William could be replaced with any man, woman, or animal and the outcome would be the same. No one will ever be an even match for this monster. The ground sinks below him and forms the bottom half of a circle. In the same breath, the tree above the monster bends over him completing the circle and proves that nature cannot even defeat this beast. "He bounded over the crevices in the ice, among which I had walked with caution; his stature, also, as he approached, seemed to exceed that of man." (Shelley 105) Running at "superhuman speed" over icey glaciers, the monster far surpasses the ability, strength and size of mankind. In this illustration there are no extra elements for the monster to face yet the ground and the trees form around his tremendous body. Moreover the lightest shaded elements in the image are the ground, the sky, the town, William and surprisingly the monster's back. The powerful rays of the sun beat onto his back and reiterate how nothing can or will stop this monster.
Despite the monster's off the charts intelligence, he still commits numerous crimes. "I gazed on my victim, and my heart swelled with exultation and hellish triumph [...]" (Shelley 160) He may feel remorse after killing William, but returns to a state of rage a moment later after discovering his locket,

For a few moments I gazed with delight on her dark eyes, fringed by deep lashes, and her lovely lips, but presently my rage returned: I remembered that I was for ever deprived of the delights that such beautiful creatures could bestow [...] (Shelley 160)

By not exposing his face, Ward hides the monster's emotions or lack there of. He understands grief, suffering and empathy, but chooses to ignore these feelings as soon as he realizes he will never fit into society. The moment this revelation hits, the monster changes him mindset and becomes resentful and dangerous. In addition, the artist may not know how to draw the facial features of such a horrible beast. Never showing the monster's face leaves room for interpretation. What does it look like? It is not a human. It is not an animal. It is a monster. A monster who possesses greater speed, intelligence and size that can conquer anyone that stands in it's way. In conclusion, Ward's illustration overemphasizes the idea that nothing (nature, man, animal) is a match for this monster. Every detail from the monster's size, the shading patterns and the shapes created in this image add new elements to Shelley's text and the development of the famous horror story of Frankenstein.

1 comment:

  1. Here are some key ideas I take away. The monster is matchless, and that shows up everywhere in the image. There is a peculiar circularity here (which you don't really explain so much as identify - interesting but unclear). The monster is, in some sense, or to some degree, beyond representation - his face is too much to be shown.

    Why is that? You're hinting here that his emotions are inhuman, and therefore cannot be represented - the contradictions of his pity, rage, etc. are more than anyone else can bear, and more than can be put on the page. Anyway, that's my interpretation of your interpretation.

    Remember that the prompt is asking you to *respond* to Ward's interpretation, and to evaluate it. It seems that the monster's unrepresentability would be a great point at which either to elaborate your agreement with or disagreement with Ward - the refusal to show his face is powerful, and you're beginning (but only beginning) to deal with what that means.

    Also, a major omission. Although the monster-hole-william-tree form the circle that you talk about, note that the circle is not alone - there is a human village *above* it in turn. If I simply follow your reading and add to it, what that tells me is that human *society* (not individuals) are above the monster as an individual, despite all his power.

    This, too, seems like a moment when you could really articulate some agreement/disagreement with Ward.

    A good beginning, but you could have pushed farther to analyze the *value* or correctness of Ward's "reading" - I'm trying to indicate ways you might have done that.