Sunday, May 18, 2008

Marxism in Frankenstein

I just wanted to head-start our discussion on Marxism in Frankenstein. I tried to find internet research on the topic. Most of what I found was that there were lots of Marxism interpretation of Frankenstein - if you were willing to put a credit card for an essay of it.

The only thing I could find was about the class distinctions mentioned in the book. Victor and Henry come from rich, upper class families. They have priveledge, the ability to travel, and money to attend university. The peasant family mentioned later, though, is the exact opposite. They're very poor and barely have enough. Marxists would probably say the peasants are being pushed down by the other classes.

I was trying to figure out what Marxists would take from Frankenstein's creation. I found this,

"For existentialism the universe is irrational; for Marxism it is lawful. The propositions of existentialist metaphysics are set in a context of cataclysmic personal experience. They all flow from the agonising discovery that the world into which we are thrown has no sufficient or necessary reason for existence, no rational order. It is simply there and must be taken as we find it. Being is utterly contingent, totally without meaning, and superfluous."

I'm not sure if this means that Victor was right to go and "find" Frankenstein - if it was just a lead up of rational thought which lead to this. On the other hand, its possible that Marxists would say that this situation should never have happend. Victor wasn't being productive to the human race by building this monster. He was a "lazy" member of the upper class. A Marxist could say that this is what happens when the upper class doesn't have to work - idle hands are the devils play.


Albert said...

While there is a class distinction between the peasants and Victor, there really isn't any struggle for power on the part of the peasants. This struggle lies more with the monster. He is essentially lower class (no education, no money, no shelter, etc) who is trying to become "upper class." While he does become educated, he is still continually pushed down by society.

From what you're saying about Marxists, it seems that they would be in favor of scientific endeavors. So, with this in mind, Victor is the lower class struggling against the higher power of the upper class, i.e. God/Nature. He succeeds, but immediately realizes what he did was wrong. This is where the story deviates from the traditional (if not my) Marxist interpretation. The class struggle is supposed end up with the lower class superceding the upper class. In Frankenstein, they do rise up, but they are pushed down, representing a power exchange that's actually stagnant.

That's all I can think of for now. I'll mention this stuff in class.

Elizabeth said...

Still not understanding Marxism...

But there is something that both Anisha and Albert overlooked that seems to be integral to Marxism. Both of you discussed the peasants, but failed to mention the fact that they were upper class, but then when trying to help Safie's father, they lost all their wealth. Thus, they were forced to flee Paris and go live in a cottage in the woods. I see the class struggle here, but I don't see how it fits into Marxism (if it even does). These peasants try to do the right thing and help someone else, but then fall as a result?

Albert, I agree with what you've said about the monster representing the proletariat. It seems to make a lot of sense, what with him trying to fit in with human society and all. However, I don't really agree with Victor representing the proles. His struggle is not really with trying to rise up in the societal heirarchy, but rather trying to control that which he created.

Anyways, that's about all I have to say about Marxism, because I really have no idea what is going on.