What would a perfect world en-tale? Imaginatively, I’m a woman living in Italy, standing on a balcony during golden hour, gazing at the ocean, eating peaches while the breeze gently blows my dress around my ankles, the planet is no longer dying and social equality has finally been achieved in all nations. Realistically, of course, this could never happen due to a number of reasons, the main one being that the only people capable of saving the human race from our epic demise via plastic and apocalyptic natural disasters are (not completely exclusively) old, rich, white men on top of the capitalist pyramid, hoarding all the worlds money and hope like a bunch of raccoons guarding their trash feast from a Taco Bell dumpster. Now, you may be asking yourself, does this inane rant about our current dumpster fire of an economic and political system have anything to do with Mary Shelley’s, Frankenstein? In this blog I’m going to be analyzing the theory developed by Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, Marxism, and how it can be applied to the story, primarily through our thick-headed, narcissistic protagonist Victor Frankenstein and his increasingly disregardful and dehumanizing relationship he has with his creature.
The theory outlines the differences between the social classes as the bourgeoisie (the rich raccoons) exploiting the working class (the proletariat). In order to achieve sweet, sweet social justice the lower class must, in some form, overthrow the bad and boujee’s through revolutions and/or riots, which I’m eagerly anticipating to see in the final chapters of the novel. It’s easy to designate these roles onto our characters; the creature being the oppressed and Frankenstien being the well-dressed. From the very start of their interactions, Victor has treated his creation with the hostility of a thousand, self-entitled, burning suns: “I had worked hard for nearly two years… but now that I had finished, the beauty of the dream vanished, and breathless horror and disgust filled my heart.” (Shelley 58-59). The power imbalance is extremely evident, we go from Victor happily playing God and holding power over his monster, to the immediate scorn and ridicule. Then, the monster is abandoned by his sole potential point of human connection and kindness, and cast away from any attempted communication with other people when he goes soul-searching through the Swiss highlands. Meanwhile, our poor, helpless, vulnerable Victor is busy having his privileged man-tears moped up by his friend Henry ( which is another, less extreme example of class imbalance within the novel), and finally going home to his family.
Speaking of family, let’s talk about Victor’s. He grew up in a rich household, this advantage undoubtedly shaped his worldview by making him gaze down upon it instead of seeing others as equals: “My family is one of the most distinguished of [Geneva]… and my father had filled several public situations with honour and reputation. He was respected by all who knew him, for his integrity and indefatigable attention to public business” (40). Due to his privileged family, Victor’s ego becomes bigger than the holes in the courts evidence against Justine (rest in pieces), which causes his attitudes towards his “vile insect” to be incredibly oppressive, much like how the bourgeoisie are to the proletariat (104). For the rest of their interactions, Victor offers no chance of a redemption arc for the creature in his eyes; he makes it very clear that his disgusting excuse of an astronomical scientific breakthrough will never be his equal. Hopefully, the conclusion to the two’s explosive dynamic ends with the creature overpowering Frankenstein to complete the theory, I know I will find it tremendously satisfying to live vicariously through the monsters victory.
Shelley, Mary Wollstonecraft, and Douglas Clegg. Frankenstein, or The Modern Prometheus. Penguin, 2013