Thursday, March 17, 2011

Monster Mosaic Project

Mary Shelley’s masterpiece, Frankenstein, addresses many themes. Central to the novel is the power of knowledge to wreak depravity among both man and monster. For Victor Frankenstein, the knowledge that he is responsible for the end fates of William, Justine, Elizabeth, and Clerval tortures him and fills him with angst. For the creature, the acquirement of knowledge exacerbates his feelings of loneliness and alienation from society. Both Victor Frankenstein and the creature are depraved as a result of the knowledge they acquire.

Evidence of Frankenstein’s depravity is made manifest in his inability to receive solace from nature’s beauty and serenity. He eventually compares himself to a “blasted tree.” In the same way that a blasted tree is split down the middle and unable to register sensation, Victor can no longer experience joy in the company of others or find solace in nature's beauty and serenity. Now, the "desolate and appalling landscape" of Scotland merely serves to mirror the desolation and revulsion within his heart. Both Frankenstein and the creature realize that previous sources of ecstasy and intrigue no longer suffice. Books and learning initially piqued the creature's curiosity, but now nothing can alleviate the creature's suffering save the fulfillment of his wish for a companion. In addition, Victor remarks that a "bolt" has entered his soul, demonstrating the inextricable intertwinement of Frankenstein and his creation, for the creature was brought to life with the aid of lightning. Both beings are separated from humanity by an "insurmountable barrier." For Frankenstein, that barrier is his regret and remorse over not only his action of creating the monster but also the pernicious actions of the creature, which result in the deaths of his loved ones. For the creature, the most prominent barrier is his outward appearance, which causes all those who come into contact with him to shrink back in fear, terror, and disgust. All the creature's attempts to help others and join a community are rebuffed or rejected, and these reactions contribute to the creature’s isolation and loneliness. The creature’s isolation fuels his anger and his intense desire for vengeance, which contributes to his depravity.

The focus of my mosaic is a single dewdrop tear. For Frankenstein, this dewdrop represents his thirst for knowledge, which eventually leads to his depraved condition; for the creature, the teardrop is symbolic of the loneliness and isolation that he feels as a result of the knowledge he acquires. The word “outsider” is a testament to their shared status as foreigners, outcasts, strangers in society. The inside of the teardrop represents Frankenstein’s world; it contains Garden of Eden imagery, books, and images of nature. The Garden of Eden imagery is a testament to Frankenstein’s status as a fallen man. One of the two books, The Northern Clemency, is symbolic of Frankenstein’s guilt, which arises as a result of the monster’s actions against mankind, and his overwhelming desire for absolution while the other, The Wife, is symbolic of how Elizabeth was lost to the monster’s impetuous deeds. Nature fills Victor’s section of the teardrop because nature was initially his only source of solace, but as he becomes more depraved and wretched, even this comfort leaves him disconsolate. The outside of the teardrop is the creature’s half because he is able to observe society while residing in a hovel rather than engage and participate in the company of others. Frankenstein’s part of the teardrop contains people that symbolize the society that the creature can watch but not be a part of. His portion of the teardrop includes books and the image of a figure burying his head in his arms to symbolize how the gaining of knowledge further alienates the creature from society. Scenes of nature are encompassed in the creature’s portion of the teardrop as well, because nature nurtures the monster; nature is his permanent dwelling.

No comments:

Post a Comment