The Evolution of the Monstrous: In Light of a Comparison of Mary Shelley's Frankenstein And

Published: 2021-06-29 07:03:40
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Category: English

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Monstrous. A word of nine letters and two syllables with the power to send chills up spines, the word is defined as; frightful or hideous, especially in appearance; extremely ugly; shocking or revolting, outrageous; deviating grotesquely from the natural or normal form or type (dictionary.com). While cultures and societies have evolved, the idea of what constructs monstrosity has as well. Throughout history the word monstrous has been used to describe various realms, from the romanticism of Mary Shelley's striking novel Frankenstein in 1818, to the Syfy action of Paul Anderson's film Death Race in 2008. Both Frankenstein and Death Race have similarities and differences in their plot, monster figures, societal issues and the overall portrayal of monstrosity. As the latter comparisons of these extraordinary "monster" stories are analyzed, the proof of the evolution of monstrosity will be revealed.
Frankenstein is a compelling novel written in frame, Shelley constructs the story of the monster, the antagonist, within the story of Victor Frankenstein, the protagonist, within the story of the narrator Robert Walton in the form of letters. The novel follows the life of Victor Frankenstein, telling first of his childhood and the loss of his mother, followed by his education in Ingolstadt, where he studies every realm of the natural sciences. While engrossed in his studies Victor resolves to the desire of "infusing life into an inanimate body" (Shelley, 56), thus begins the story of the monster. Shelley shadows the creature through his abandonment, to his encounters with and growing thoughts of mankind and his resulting hatred of humanity. The creation and his creator meet in response to the death of Victor's brother, William and later Justine. As the creature tells his story both Victor and the reader learn of his early life, including his life in the forest with the cottagers, from whom he learnes language, literature, hardship, betrayal and love. The creature then demands that Victor grant him one single happiness, the creation of a mate, and he will disappear and never harm humanity again. After strong refusal Victor ultimately agrees to construct a mate for the creation however once the mate is complete but not yet brought to life, Victor resolves to brutally destroy the work before the eyes of his creation, "The wretch saw me destroy the creature on whose future existence he depended for happiness, and with a howl of devilish despair and revenge, withdrew" (Shelley, 159) this action later resulted in the vengeful deaths of Victor's friend, Clerval, and his friend, wife and cousin, Elizabeth. After the death of so many loved ones, Victor vows to never cease hunting his creation until one of them is dead. This chase brings Victor to Walton's ship where, through his slowly approaching death, Victor tells both his story and the story of his creation. The novel in its entirety is in fact Victors accounts that Walton scripted and sent as letters to his sister, Margret Saville, also included is Walton's interaction with the creature as he weeps over Victor's body and resolves to commit his body to ashes since he has nothing else for which to live.

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