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Victor…Alienated: Frankenstein & Estranged Labor Essay

1618 words - 7 pages

Karl Marx and Mary Shelley’s works are both in conversation with the rise of the Industrial Revolution. Marx describes the alienation of the worker from his labor in Estranged Labor. At first, this may not seem to be directly related to Frankenstein, but when Victor Frankenstein is read as if he is the theoretical laborer Marx describes in his essay, the two become similar while remaining in tension with each other at times. Marx’s theoretical laborer is alienated from his product as well as from his production just as Victor’s creature becomes his product which causes his alienation and later he too becomes alienated from his production.
When Victor is working on his creature, he is ...view middle of the document...


This is precisely how Victor has become affected. His labor itself can be seen in two contexts. The first is as an object exploited by the creature when he orders Frankenstein to create a companion for him. The second is the creature as the object of his labor, as well as the commodity of Marx’s proletarian personified (or perhaps creatureified is more appropriate). What he has put into creating the monster has become a literal “external existence.” It is “independent” as the creature is self-sufficient and has nothing to control him. It is “something alien to” Victor as (QUOTE HERE OOPS), as well as “a power of its own [that] confront[s] him,” physically. The confrontation comes when Victor meets the monster on the mountain (find page pls) and again later HELP. When Victor he sees him approach, he “trembled with rage and horror” (67). He is not only put off by the countenance of the creature, but is also deeply upset by the confrontation. The creature has become something he despises as opposed to when he was only an amalgamation of dead body parts, not yet alive, and Victor was still captivated by his production. It is the product that he cannot stand and not the production, until he begins his work on his creature’s possible mate. Part of the reason why the monster is so difficult for him to accept is the similarities between the two. (quotes, quotes, quotes). His self-hatred, including hatred for what he has done, as in creating the monster, is transferred onto the creature. He does not want to confront his monster as he is hiding from himself.
Victor’s production becomes more like the workers Marx writes about when he begins to work on the creature’s companion. Frankenstein says,

As I proceeded in my labor, it became every day more horrible and irksome to me. Sometimes I could not prevail on myself to enter my laboratory for several days; and at other times I toiled day and night in order to complete my work. (118)

It is only when he does his work with a clear idea as to the possible power of his product does he realize the horror of what it is he is doing in creating an incredibly powerful living thing that has the power to destroy people and their lives. Frankenstein is so repulsed by his work that he cannot face the inert body of the new creature he is working on. The difference between Marx’s proletarian and Victor is that Victor does not need to work in a timely manner nor for economic necessity. Still, his work is necessary in order to keep his loved ones alive and away from the vengeful hands of his monster who hates humans because he cannot be like them or accepted by them. If Frankenstein succeeds in his production, he can live in a situation that, though it is not optimal, it is better than the alternative. If he was to complete the second creature his wife could have possibly stayed alive and the monster may have left him alone. He, however, cannot bear to create a second creature in fear that it will be even more...

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