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Mary Shelley presents rejection very much through her characterisation of the Frankenstein monster. I have taken an extract from the novel in which Frankenstein is reunited with his monster. In this extract the monster relates to Frankenstein the troubles he has had in mixing in human society, and he then threatens Frankenstein to build himself a mate. Shelley presents the monster’s rejection through her use of form, structure and language, of which she uses to highlight the significance of the monster’s rejection and the intensity of pain that results from his rejection.
Frankenstein’s monster describes a pivotal moment in his life that changes his destiny, or his desired destiny, and propels the story to its tragic ending. The monster approaches the home of his “protectors.” He waits for any opportunity for himself and the blind old man, De Lacey, to be left alone. When the youthful Salfie, Felix and Agatha leave the home, the monster seizes his opportunity to befriend a group of human beings.
The tension building to this moment is heightened as the monster relates the nervousness and apprehension he feels before approaching De Lacey. The narrator, the monster, is aware of the great importance that this scene holds for his future, and as a result, the reader is also able to appreciate the significance of this particular event. A similar technique is used by Ian McEwan in his novel “Enduring Love”: the narrator Joe Rose goes into great detail about the setting of an event and the significance of an event before explaining the plot; before he tells of the balloon crash and his meeting with Jed Parry, Joe describes this incident as pivot in order to present its significance, and he heightens the scenes importance by going into great detail concerning the setting of the event of which he is explaining.
Mary Shelley also presents the monster’s rejection through her description of other characters’ loneliness. Initially the monster and De Lacey are able to converse with one another and they are able to relate to each other. Their connection is evident even before the monster enters into conversation with De Lacey. He describes De Lacey playing “several sorrowful” songs. He and the monster both suffer sorrow and they have both been exiled outside of their once adopted, or in the monster’s case: supposedly adopted, society. The two are both linked in conversation, and both seem to delight in one another’s company. De Lacey describes being “persuaded” that the monster is “sincere.” De lacey is able to discern the goodness in the monster due to his blindness and therefore De Lacey is unprejudiced and accepting of the monster. The monster describes De Lacey as an “excellent man!” The monster is not completely isolated, but he is linked to De Lacey through rejection and pity.
In Charlotte Bronte’s “The Foundling,” Sydney and Lady Julia are able to relate to each other, through the similarities in their emotional states. In the same way De Lacey and the monster share the state of sorrow and isolation, Sydney and Julia also share an ambiguity in their feelings for each other. Lady Julia feels sorrow and hope- in her song she sings of a weeping bride losing her true love, but she also sings of the hope of reuniting with the once lost lover. Sydney also feels sorrow and joy-after Lady Julia tells him that she always love him, but can never marry him, Sydney fells pleased that Lady Julia has promised to devote her love to him, but at the same time he feels saddened by the extinguishing of any hope of marrying her.
The tenderness that the monster feels towards De Lacey does not last. On returning home, Felix, Salfie and Agatha are horrified by the sight of the monster. Salfie fleas the home, Agatha faints and Felix confronts the monster and attacks him. The endearing nature of the blind father is completely switched to an abhorring and unwelcoming violence and disgust towards the monster, when the rest of the family return home. On sighting the monster the violence erupts. In the monster’s speech De Lacey observes sincerity, however, in the monster’s physique “horror” and “consternation” is evoked from those who see him. There is a great deal of contrast between the monster’s appearance and the monster’s emotional state. Similarly in Jane Austen’s “Pride and Prejudice,” Darcy’s unwelcoming appearance contrasts with his inner goodness. His varying manner is also presented through the different reaction other characters have towards his character. His house keeper is able to observe the inner goodness he has harboured since childhood, but Elizabeth can only, initially perceive the pride and self – importance in his appearance. He is lonely and seeks sympathy and relationship from those who he feels rejected him. His appearance is grotesque and repulsive as opposed to his motive to seek out company rather than repel it. The monster finds himself very much in conflict with his own nature. His body stops him from obtaining the company he desires so much. It comes as no surprise that the monster goes on to despise his form. When sighting himself in the reflection of water, he is appalled. Then later on he goes on to question his existence: “why did I live?” His language changes also, he continually refers to himself with shame and disgust; he compares himself to the devil. He states that he has been “degraded” and continually refers to himself as a “fiend.”
On finding three works of literature Frankenstein’s monster educated himself and he was able to find links between his life and the lives of the characters presented in the pieces that he found. The most impactful piece that he finds is John Milton’s “Paradise Lost.” He finds that he relate mostly to Milton’s portrayal of Adam and the devil. Adam becomes representative of the monster’s loneliness, and his longing for a mate similar to himself so that he can have someone in the world to relate to. The devil becomes representative of the monster’s envy that is derived from observing the happiness of the De Lacey household, and likewise the devil is envious of Adam’s and Eve’s happiness, on observing them.
The Devil and Adam therefore represent aspects of the monster’s life. Similarly in Dickens’ “Great Expectations,” the characters Orlick and Joe come to represent the good and evil within Phillip Pipering’s character. Orlick’s evil sinister outlook represents the evil in Pip’s snobbishness and pride that he adopts on becoming a gentleman. Joe, however, represents the goodness that Pip initially has in childhood, and slowly loses as he strives to become a gentleman. Joe’s good nature and simple life becomes the symbol for true self-improvement, and he later becomes a role model for Pip. The two characters are in conflict; within a particular scene in the novel the two begin to physically fight. Orlick’s and Joe’s physical fight becomes an extension of the fight between good and evil occurring within Pip’s character, just as Adam and the devil become an extension of the loneliness and envy within the monster.
Much of the narration of the monster’s life is narrated completely through the monsters point of view. However, Victor Frankenstein regains his position as the narrator after the monster has finished retelling his experiences. The monster’s language, when describing the books that he has stolen, is very sophisticated. He embed a quotation from Goethe’s “Sorrows of Werter,” and the depth in which he describes the themes that are raised in the works and the relevance they have to his life, showcases the monster’s newly found sense of understanding and quality of character. Through the monster’s sophisticated style of narration, the reader is able to sympathize more so with the monster as the ridicule he receives from his grotesque outlook is undeserved, for he is capable of sophistication as opposed to the simple terror that his appearance evokes in people. Similarly in Jane Austen’s “Emma,” Mr Martin’s simplicity contrasts to the sophistication that Emma perceives in his letter. Therefore, Emma’s judgement of Mr Martin-she considers him simple and “illiterate”- becomes perceived as cruel, much like human societies’ treatment of the monster.
The reader’s impression of the monster soon changes when Frankenstein begins to narrate his story. The monster’s aggressiveness is emphasized more so in Frankenstein’s narration. Frankenstein describes the monster having “a fiendish rage,” that renders his face too ugly to be seen by “human eyes.” The monster’s repulsiveness comes back into focus and his capacity for violence is re-established through Shelley’s use of the word “fiendish.” The monster is once again described as sinister and evil. Frankenstein, however, still manages to observe sincerity in his monster’s pleas for a companion. Frankenstein states that he began to become “compassionated” towards the monster, through his retelling of the misery he suffers in loneliness. Through the sympathetic reaction of Frankenstein and De Lacey- characters that have had the opportunity to converse with the monster- the reader is also encouraged to sympathise with the monster, for characters around him also pity him.
In conclusion the pain and loneliness the monster feels in rejection, is presented through the reactions of other characters towards him, the descriptions of feelings in his own narration, and through the presentation of characters that are in a similar situation to the monster. The aggressive reaction of Felix is a physical reflection of the emotional pain that is inflicted on the monster following his rejection. The monster goes on to despise himself through his use of abusive terms in which describes his form. In the monster’s narration, he is very much focused on drawing pity from the reader as he shows through his description of the different reactions characters have towards him, and through his sophisticated language that contrasts with beastliness that people perceive in sighting him. However, Victor Frankenstein’s narration highlights the violence in the monster’s character, leaving the reader quite rightly feeling ambiguous about the monsters capacity for sincerity and violence.
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