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The “Other” Creation: Post Colonialism In Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein

1288 words - 5 pages

Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley’s Frankenstein (sometimes also known as The Modern Prometheus) is the classic gothic novel of her time. In this eerie tale, Dr. Victor Frankenstein – suffering from quite an extreme superiority complex – brings to life a creature made from body parts of deceased individuals from nearby cemeteries. Rather than to embrace the Creature as his own, Frankenstein alienates him because of his unpleasant appearance. Throughout the novel, the Creature is ostracized not only by Frankenstein but by society as a whole. Initially a kind and gentle being, the Creature becomes violent and eventually seeks revenge for his creator’s betrayal. Rather than to merely focus on the exclusion of the Creature from society, Shelley depicts the progression of Dr. Frankenstein’s seclusion from other humans as well, until he and the Creature ultimately become equals – alone in the world with no one to love, and no one to love them back. Frankenstein serves as more than simply a legendary tale of horror, but also as a representation of how isolation and prejudice can result in the demise of the individual.
Generally, as expressed in Charles Bressler’s Literary Criticism: An Introduction to Theory and Practice (4th Edition), post-colonialism encompasses a study of literature written in countries that are or were at some point in time colonized by England or some other imperial power (235). This analysis of literature implies or assumes that the peoples of these texts experienced social, political, and economic influences from an outside force, and were made out to be the “other” right on their own homeland. While Frankenstein is by no means a tale of conquest, the concepts of isolation and oppression are eminent throughout the entirety of the novel not only as the creature is denied compassion because of his hideous appearance, but also as Victor’s true ambitions and accomplishments are denounced by his father and by the majority of his professors during his studies at Ingolstadt.
Over the full course of the Creature’s life, he is feared and ridiculed because of his unpleasant appearance – because he is different. While Victor had in his mind been creating the most beautiful living being, upon his being brought to life he states that the Creature was so repulsive that “[a] mummy again endued with animation could not be so hideous” (Shelley 56). According to John Allman’s claims in his article “Motherless Creation: Motifs in Science Fiction,” here is where Victor makes his first and most grave mistake. Allman states that “the basic failure, in male science… is associated with the absence of anything like a mother figure.” In refusing the Creature the nurturing care that should have been provided to him by his creator, Victor created the hatred within him. This violent nature to satisfy his vengeful heart, coupled with his already dreadful exterior, lead to the Creature being labeled as a monster, never to receive compassion from a...

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