Thursday, October 13, 2011

Revision 1: 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 the monster in Frankenstein. On page 242 the creature is seen standing on top of the icy arctic. 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. In the past, pharos forced slaves to build pyramids for them because they had ultimate control. 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 during his journey to murder the beast.

Victor is solely the monster’s play toy, just as the monster started off being his. The monster decided who should be in Victor’s life and who should die. After Victor is at his wits end 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, 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. Throughout his images, the monster still has 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. 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.

In comparison to the image on page 151, the figurative limbs of society are crushing the monster; he is standing tall and sturdy when he is in his natural element—nature. On top of the mountain, 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 who is able to survive. 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. 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.

Opposite to being a god, the monster can be seen as the devil. Satan was banned from heaven. He was not liked by those around him and sent off to live in a solitary world. “In Judeo-Christian religion, Satan was the fallen angel; once at God's right hand, he was expelled from the kingdom of heaven” (Parallels and Doubles in Frankenstein). Because of his banishment, he evokes anger and rage; ultimately, he seeks revenge on the person who banishes him—God. Just like the devil, the monster is unaccepted by society and in response banned. He is out in a world of his own—nature. “The 
whole village was roused; some fled, some attacked me, until, grievously bruised by stones and 
many other kinds of missile weapons, I escaped to the open country” (74) After being banished into a world of solitude, the monster seeks revenge on his creator. Perhaps Shelley wanted the audience to see the monster as a devil through his murderous actions.

Being a true god would mean the man has the ability to both create and take life; however, this is not the case in Frankenstein. Victor has the ability to give life, while the monster can take life away. The monster takes the lives of those important to Victor, just as a devil would do. The anger and rage expressed by the monster also exemplify the devil like behaviors. Being devilish is the balance with Frankenstein’s ability to create (Condon).

In contrast to having a god-like for devilish figure, the monster demonstrates emotions. Ward creates a contradiction and state of confusion in the monster. The monster observes humans and how the work. “Was man, indeed, at once so powerful, so virtuous, and magnificent, yet so vicious and base?” (119). I feel Ward did this to portray the monster as a human. Children observe actions around them and implement their findings. It is human nature to have and change emotions; there is a personal struggle with oneself. Humans do things they may not want to do, just as when monster had killed but admitted to not being approving his actions. As all humans do, the monster evolves and changes over time. Victor also evolves, in a complete opposite of the monster.

Being a god was never the monster’s intentions. In the beginning of the book, the monster never received the nurturing from a father like Victor did. Rather the monster was questioning as to why he never had that. When the creature came to Victor, asking him to make him a mate, the monster explained how he wanted to be as a normal family is. Frankenstein pleaded for a counterpart for “whom [he] can live in the interchange of those sympathies necessary
 for my being” (104). I feel the monster was shown more as an outcast than a god; however, Ward dramatically highlights characteristics in the monster that are similar to the heavenly figures.

Without the god-like inferences, the monster would be taken as pure evil. Murdering many and having an enormous physical appearance mark the monster as solely a monster. The debate of him being human do not exist; however, Ward challenges that idea by having the monster begin with a kind heart and having emotions and reasoning to his anger. In the end the monster does go back to being good-hearted and wanting to kill himself with the death of Frankenstein.

In conclusion, Ward purposely compiles evidence that the monster is a representation of god and the devil to prove he is human. It is evidence that no man should ever play the role of a creator because of the unknown detrimental possibilities. God created Adam as Victor created the monster; however, God was able to keep Adam under his power by banishing him from the Garden of Eden. Victor had no control over his creation. There was no way to stop the monster from becoming more powerful than him. The monster had the god-like power that Victor did not posses, disallowing Victor to become God.

Works Cited

Condon, Bill, Ian McKellen, Brendan Fraser, and Lynn Redgrave. Gods and Monsters. [S.l.]: MGM, 2000. Print.

"Parallels and Doubles in Frankenstein." Frankenstein. Gothic Texts, 4 Mar. 2007. Web. 13 Oct. 2011. .

1 comment:

  1. I struggle to really follow your argument here. I'm on board with the straightforward idea that the monster is God-like, although I find it a little too easy (as do you - you want him to be both God and devil, which might remind us of Paradise Lost, for instance). I am extremely interested in the idea, briefly mentioned, and then roughly alluded to at the end, that Victor and the monster form almost two halves of a God, but neither is really godlike on his own. It's also true that we can take the monster as an outcast more easily than as a god (I'd say the role of abandoned child also suits him very well).

    So you have several relevant things to say about the monster and his creator, some pretty obvious (monster as devil, monster as outcast, monster as god) and some less obvious (monster and Victor as different aspects of one god). What unclear here is your overall agenda, and what it really has to do with Ward's image.

    You begin with an interesting if problematic reading of the image (I don't think it really damages your argument all that much, but I think he's standing on icebergs, not mountains. still, it *looks* like he straddles too mountains, and you analyze that appearance well.

    But the image doesn't bind the essay together, nor do you turn to a second image. By the end, it seems like you're reading Shelley in isolation, rather than using Ward to read Shelley, which is how you started out. The farther away from Ward you get, I think, the easier and more conventional your analysis of the novel.

    Returning more productively to Ward - especially as a way of returning to the question of the relationship between victor and the monster and their dualing/conflicting god/devil like natures - could have helped you focus the argument much more narrowly and productively.