Frankenstein: Theme of The Other

Published: 2021-08-15 23:35:09
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Category: Monster, Frankenstein

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One of the greatest corresponding attributes between Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein and modern day society is the prominence of appearance and acceptance in society. Throughout modern day society and the society portrayed in Frankenstein, a person is judged primarily on appearance. Social prejudices are commonly founded from appearance, ranging from skin color to weight. Perceptions are then based off of these prejudices. A person will then act a certain way towards the person the prejudices are based off of.
The parallel drawn between the societies is that they are very appearance-based, which is brought to the attention in contrast of the hideous monster and the common human being. The “Other” is an individual recognized by a community as not belonging, as being unusual in an essential way that differentiates from everyone else in the group. The group or community sees itself and its members as the norm and those who differ from the norm, as the Other. Identified as lacking fundamental characteristics possessed by the group, the Other is usually always seen as lesser or inferior and treated consequently.
The group defining the Other may be an entire society, a social class, a community within a society, or even a local gang. (Melani 1) The Other is not essentially a numerical minority. In a country or territory is over taken by a regal power, the more numerous natives can become the Other, for instance, the British rule in India where the native Indians outnumbered the British 4,000 to 1. (Melani 1) Likewise, women are classified and judged by men, the dominant group or persons, in relationship to themselves, so that they become the Other.

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Hence Aristotle states: "The female is a female by virtue of a certain lack of qualities; we should regard the female nature as afflicted with a natural defectiveness. " (Melani 1) The outsider is a term that is commonly confused with the Other, but they are not identical. The outsider may have the opportunity to be accepted by and incorporated into the group. The Other, however, is distinguished as different in kind, as lacking in some fundamental trait or traits sets the individual apart from the group.
Therefore the Other is doomed forever to remain separate and desolate, to forever remain outside of the group unless the group’s outlook is subject to change. (Melani 1) In Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, the creature, opposed by his maker and rejected by society, exemplifies otherness. Along with the fact that he serves as a converse example of natural reproduction, the monster has an extremely grotesque appearance resulting in severe isolation and eventually leading to his implacable and callous behavior.
In Frankenstein, beauty is considered a virtue of good, while deformity and ugliness are inescapably associated with evil. In many instances, the monster’s repulsiveness is equated with him being evil. After fleeing from the first sight of the conscious monster, Victor states: “I stepped fearfully in: the apartment was empty, and my bedroom was also freed from its hideous guest. I could hardly believe that so great a good fortune could have befallen me, but when I became assured that my enemy had indeed fled, I clapped my hands for joy and ran down to Clerval. (Shelley 52)
Victor implies that just because the monster, that he created, is hideous, he must be his enemy. Even the creator of the beast fails to give him one chance at acceptance to society and the world. This theme only begins here. When the monster confronts the William, Victor’s youngest brother, William exclaims: “`Let me go,' he cried; `monster! Ugly wretch! You wish to eat me and tear me to pieces. You are an ogre. Let me go, or I will tell my papa. ” (Shelley 144)
The monster only faces further isolation as not even the young boy will give him a chance to be accepted before concluding him a wretch. Even when the monster saves the life of a girl drowning in a river, as a result of his appearance, he is not rewarded, but shot due to assumptions made from because of his appearance. “This was then the reward of my benevolence! I had saved a human being from destruction, and as a recompense I now writhed under the miserable pain of a wound which shattered the flesh and bone.
Inflamed by pain, I vowed eternal hatred and vengeance to all mankind. ” (Shelley 143) The monster shows here that even when seen doing a good deed, he is still rejected by society and proclaimed evil, based off his external features. The division of beauty and repulsiveness as related to good and evil stem from the novel’s Romantic influences. The monster eventually realizes his place in the world. He begins to embrace his isolation and position as the Other. Once learning how to read, he begins to decipher Victor’s journal during the creation of the monster: “Accursed creator!
Why did you form a monster so hideous that even YOU turned from me in disgust? God, in pity, made man beautiful and alluring, after his own image; but my form is a filthy type of yours, more horrid even from the very resemblance. Satan had his companions, fellow devils, to admire and encourage him, but I am solitary and abhorred. ” (Shelley 131) The monster, now aware that his own creator is horrified by his existence, becomes increasingly anguished about his position in the world. “I am malicious because I am miserable. Am I not shunned and hated by all mankind?
You, my creator, would tear me to pieces and triumph, remember that, and tell me why I should pity man more than he pities me? ” (Shelley 147) The monster, abandoned by his God and unable to find a place in the world, admits here to Victor that his callous deeds were products of his grave desolation. The monster is unable to identify his purpose of existence. “I was dependent on none and related to none. The path of my departure was free, and there was none to lament my annihilation. My person was hideous and my stature gigantic. What did this mean? Who was I?
What was I? These questions continually recurred, but I was unable to solve them. ” (Shelley 141) Unable to make sense of his being, he questions Victor on his purpose for life. Why was he created to live a life of such inconceivable misery? From the text, we can learn that one should never judge someone by mainly appearance but by the content of their character. Frankenstein had a loving and compassionate soul inside of his hideous exterior. Sadly, Victor had to learn this lesson the hard way through the monster’s heinous path of destruction in his hunt for revenge.
Others’ are still being distinguished to this day in modern society. Others today are being distinguished by race, social class and even sexual orientation. Insiders, or those seperate of the norm in society, specifically American society, generally share uniform traits such as origin of birth and success by economic terms. (Melani 1) The Others are those who are either poor or who, in some way, do not share the general values of American society. The parallel that attractive people are more likely to be accepted in society stems from the influence from the media.
The media tells society what is and what isn’t attractive. Amanda Grable writes because man lives in society and is rarely secluded, man forms the majority of its ideas of self based on comparisons made from external stimuli. (Grable 1) This external stimuli can be made up of images of ones self in comparison of images of other people. It is commonly known that the main goal of most media is centered on advertisement, or a way to win customers over to buy their products. One of the universal ways this is accomplished is through showing images of attractive, happy people using these products.
A study of 4,294 network commercials revealed that 1 out of every 3. 8 commercials send some sort of "attractiveness message," (Grable 2) With all this dependency on self image, it’s hard not to see why humans are so quick to judge solely off of appearance. People in society are always creating sets of differences to differentiate between one another; from skin color, weight or even fashion sense. Self image is the underlying back bone of society. Judgments are consistently being made on one’s appearance by every member in society. This is the parallel drawn within modern day society and the novel.

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