Evaluation of Criticism of Mary Shelley's "Frankenstein"
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This review is on an online critique article titled “Review Frankenstein; or the Modern Prometheus”. The author of the article is undisclosed. It is however indicated to be work done by Romantic circles. This is held to be under the university of Maryland publication umbrella. These author details highly a point on the validity and credibility of this article’s criticism. First, the name of the author is not directly given. Such reduces the validity of information presented. The connection with Maryland University however restores confidence in the article and the author. It assures that the article passed a test of rigor academic measure. In the article, the thesis seems to be that Frankenstein was a great failure by Mary Shelley on representation of reality. I posit that Shelley correctly represented reality and that the criticism’s inability to see this is because of its shallow focus on the book.
One view of the criticism is that the novel goes beyond the limits of artistic creativity. The criticism thus calls the book an “exaggeration” (Romantic Cycles).The view in the criticism is that Shelley was more in a fantasy world. Here, the criticism holds, “There never was a wilder story imagined” (Romantic Cycles). The view of the criticism seems to be that Shelley strayed into a plot, themes and characters which could never be related with anyone or anything in this world. This is why the criticism holds the book to be a “most outrageous improbability” (Romantic Cycles).
I disagree with the above view. In the book we see a scientist and the work he does of experimentation as well as discovery. Science is an endeavor which has been around for long. It is more than probable to see it in any society. The meaning of this is that Shelley, while developing on the theme science, is not presenting any improbability. From Frankenstein, we see a family’s life (Shelley and Pearce 3). The family theme is reality of socialization in the world. Overall, science, family and other themes such as female marginalization that are depicted in the book and its plot are not only probable; they are accurate. Such disqualifies the view of the criticism that the book presents improbable things.
The criticism also identifies the book as a misrepresentation of what is natural for humans and their world. According to the criticism, it is a gloomy representation “of nature and of man” (Romantic Cycles). The criticism holds the author as unlearned on “established order of nature as it appears, both in the world of matter and of mind” (Romantic Cycles). I differ with this. In Frankenstein, there are characters such as Frankenstein and the Monster who expose feelings of love, joy, anger, pain and hatred. These are feelings attributed to humans living then, today and forever. They are feelings natural to humans. Such diminishes the criticism’s view of the book as a representation of things which are not natural to humans.
Talking of the world, Elizabeth, one of the characters in the book says, “Oh! how I hate it’s shrews and mockeries! when one creature is murdered, another is immediately deprived of life in a slow and torturing manner (Shelley 67).This discussion captures Elizabeth’s disgust with the world order. They are words of a character which are accredited to the author.It shows Shelley talking of murder in a judicial way. She holds murder as occurring and cries about injustice in the world. To me, this is the established nature. It is nature where the minds of a few will cry about the injustices we have in the world. It is the world where even amidst such cries murders and other crimes still occur. It is not thus true for the criticism to hold Shelley as unlearned on nature or even the mind. The theme of justice in the world cannot be wished away. It is natural as it is real.
Two things the criticism accepts but fails to develop on make it too shallow to have any thorough analysis of reality representation in the book. The first one is the centrality of the philosophy of Godwinian. The criticism holds the book to have been written in a “Godwinian manner” (Romantic Cycles). This is as far as the author develops on this. I posit this as a fatal failure. Godwinian suggests the notion where responsibility is the overriding theme. It is where consequences are traced back to the source and each person is held accountable for the consequences of what they do. This is what is held to be political justice (Shelley and Pearce 3). Responsibility is a theme which is real. Leaders are assessed on the outcomes of the policies they implement. They are held responsible. This has been and is reality of our world. My view is that the criticism should have analyzed the idea of responsibility as it relates to Godwinian theorization and not just mention it. With such, the author of the criticism would have realized that Shelley was appealing to the responsibility among leaders when writing her book. Such would have led to the conclusion that the book presents real issues.
The author also commits a big sin by simply mentioning Paradise Lost. The criticism simply mentions this book alongside others as relevant texts. It fails to develop on this. I hold that Paradise Lost does not occupy such periphery significance in understanding this novel. I hold it as central in understanding the plot of the book. In Paradise Lost is where obsession is depicted as the genesis of sin and a fall from favor (Shelley and Pearce 3). It is important in understanding how Frankenstein moves from being an admirable scientist as well as youth to be the beast that created a figure which devoured people including those who were his family. The monster cries of the way he scavenges people and identifies it as the moment he fell to sin from being in grace. These are important moments in the plot which connect with paradise Lost. Paradise Lost elicits them. But the criticism fails to take such a direction. It thus fails to expand on an important point on the reality in the book.
The failure of the criticism is also clear on its lack of address to the title. The title of the book has the word Prometheus. I had thus expected a highlight of Prometheus. I was expecting to see the criticism mention the utilitarian theme as elicited by Prometheus. I anticipated the criticism’s comparison or relating of the fire’s use and the monster’s skills. This to me is what the heading “Frankenstein; or the Modern Prometheus” compares (Shelley and Pearce 3). From analyzing Prometheus, the criticism would have questioned the centrality of the monster in the discussion and not seen it as a figure only in the imagination. Here, the criticism would have identified the real skills of the monster emphasized on by Shelley for real life applications. But the criticism fails to consider this. To me, this makes the criticism a big failure.
The above discussion proves the premise that Shelley correctly represented reality and that the criticism’s inability to see this is because of its shallow focus on the book. As held, the book talks of real phenomenon such as science, family and feelings. As the discussion proves, the criticism on the other hand fails to capture key resources such as paradise lost and Prometheus.