Go over the style of suffering in Mary Shelly’s ‘Frankenstein’, and P.B. Shelly’s ‘Alastor: or the spirit of solitude’
by n KALSI Go over the style of suffering in Mary Shelly’s ‘Frankenstein’ and P. B. Shelly’s ‘Alastor: Or the spirit of privacy’. The style of suffering is best conveyed through the “singular” visual figure of the wanderer or vagrant. Romantic writers produced works exposing extremes of isolation and socialisation, producing ‘either a wild beast or a god’ and showing that although privacy can render understanding, it can also be the cause of deep suffering. Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, is an account of the monstrous potentiality of human creative power when severed from ethical and social concerns.
Suffering is displayed through the characters of Victor Frankenstein and his nameless development, the beast or “the fallen angel”. Furthermore, what is required to even more the discussion of suffering, is the cause and undoubtedly expression of suffering withstood by the central characters. Frankenstein want to be the source of a brand-new types, but ironically, his creature develops into a self acknowledged Satan who swears everlasting revenge and war on upon his creator and all the human race as a result of the torment he experiences at their hands. The Beast sees salvation just through the production of his Eve.
Both master and creature are torn by their internal conflicts from misapplied understanding and their sense of seclusion. P. B. Shelley’s Alastor; or the Spirit of Solitude, compares well to Frankenstein as there are numerous resemblances with the poet and the character of the Beast and his creator, Frankenstein; both texts depict the themes of suffering through isolation and main to both is the desire for a companion or equivalent other. Alastor; or the Spirit of Privacy is a touching poem which conveys well the suffering of the person.
There is a fixation within the young poet within the poem, which leads him to express the broodings of the heart in privacy. The lonesome musings of the poet are ironically calming and create a melodious tone to the poem as he learns and strives for more understanding to satiate his young mind. As P. B. Shelley describes the character in the preface to the poem, he likewise draws on its moral: ‘It represents a youth of uncorrupted sensations … He consumes deep of the water fountains of understanding and is still insatiate …
His mind is awakened and thirsts for intercourse with an intelligence comparable to himself …’ He yearns as a result, for his best buddy, but his wandering to far lands fails to discover him his suitable. Shelley goes on to compose that in desiring the purest remaining in a ‘single image’ he seeks in vain for a prototype of his conception. ‘Blasted’ by his frustration he comes down to an ‘unfortunate grave’. Shelley specified likewise in his preface that the awful defect of the young poet is that he is ‘misguided’ and ‘duped’ and therefore ‘ethically dead’.
Shelley recommends, therefore that the spirit is cursed due to the fact that it fails to exist with other citizens of the world. The poet chooses to wander in solitude and so suffers for existing ‘without human sympathy’. It is the ‘intensity and passion for their search’ which leads them to ‘lasting suffering and loneliness on the planet’. The ethical is epitomized in the last lines of the beginning: ‘Those who enjoy not their fellow beings live unfruitful lives and get ready for their old age a miserable tomb’.
It is paradoxical that the poem begins exclaiming ‘Earth, Ocean, Air, precious brotherhood!’ and yet this obsession and love for production leads him even more and further away from existing together with all these things which he admires, resulting in withdrawal and suffering. The opening verse describes romantic images of nature, typical of the duration in which Shelley was composing, exposing the poets love for nature: The ‘dewy morn’ and the ‘solemn midnight’ as well as the descriptions of animal and insect life, create a tranquil environment.
Yet these are suddenly juxtaposed by the second verse; the poet explains suffering and disturbed sleep in ‘charnels and on coffins’ and the philosophical questions of the purpose of presence that follow produce a sense of foreboding. P. B. Shelley, considerably, then explains ‘the alchemist’, suggesting that simply as the alchemist’s missions to turn base metals into gold are an impossibility, the poets quests to roam and reject society, is equally fruitless.
Parallels can be made to Victor Frankenstein in Mary Shelley’s gothic book, who also is like the alchemist. The poet desires a buddy, simply as the Beast carries out in Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. In the poem, the longing is portrayed in the image of the moon: ‘As oceans moon searches the moon in heaven’ This image is significant for a number of reasons; the poet compares impression and truth and therefore conveys how he pursues the dream picture of the housemaid into the real life, however the pursuit, as the image boldly suggests, is difficult and unattainable.
In addition to this, the image of the moon enhances the feelings of an uninhabited natural world as it appears to the poet, whose narcissist love is directed to a perfect conceived within his own mind. This can be compared to both the character of Victor Frankenstein and his creation. Much like the poet in Alastor, the Beast desires in despair for a suitable which will never become a reality. Equally, the concept of narcissism is also apparent within the character of Frankenstein.
In the poem, ‘Yellow flowers forever gaze on their own drooping eyes’ This image symbolises Narcissus who saw his reflection and fell in love with it, misinterpreting it for a Nymph, falling under the river, and dying in pursuit of his own reflection, developing into a daffodil. In the same method, Frankenstein is solipsistic and inspired by selfish desires; for him, love is conceited and in his pathetic effort to make a development in his own image, as God finished with Adam, he creates instead ‘the fallen angel’, which he fails to love and support.
Thus the novel and the poem both represent an idealistic mission, egotistical in essence- and for Frankenstein, a mission for self glorification- which triggers inconceivable suffering. In his poem, Shelley compares suffering and solitude with an eagle, ‘comprehended in folds of green serpent’ burning with pain, ‘Frantic with dizzying anguish’ Shelley appropriately utilizes the imagery of the serpent attacking a bird, drawing in Biblical parallels to the poem, just as Mary Shelley performs in her novel to put importance on the Fall of Man.
This style is important in Frankenstein as it often provides reasons for the suffering the characters experience, as Frankenstein too gains his knowledge through a forbidden act. In spite of James Reiger’s 1974 criticism of the realism of the novel, it can not be denied that Shelley understood far more about Galvanism, science and sorcery, than her critics provided her credit for. Frankenstein’s asexual production of a ‘new types’ is in fact an evolutionary regression. His ‘singular recreation’ is far from God-like; it is instead the beginning of terror and torture on human lives.
The reader initially learns about Frankenstein’s illness and general condition through Robert Walter. This is an efficient narrative technique revealing Shelley’s extraordinary style which enhances sympathy towards Frankenstein and, more notably, serves to produce suspense. He is referred to as being ‘dreadfully emaciated by tiredness and suffering … typically melancholy and despairing’ and more considerably, ‘gnashes his teeth as if impatient of the weight of concerns that oppress him’.
This description likewise highlights that Shelley’s work has been influenced by her dad, the author of Caleb Williams, William Godwin, who composed ‘Each time the mind is gotten into with anguish and gloom the frame (or physical and external vigour) becomes disordered’ (Godwin, Political Justice, Pg 249) Walter’s description of Victor Frankenstein only creates more thriller and is heightened by Frankenstein’s response to why he is alone and taking a trip in such extreme conditions: “To look for one who got away from me” It is his ‘constant and deep sorrow’ (Walter, page 59) which instil ‘compassion and compassion’ in both Walter and the reader.
The cause to Frankenstein’s sorrow is then exposed to the last and just good friend he will ever have, in a distinct Gothic design, exposing components of both the spectacular and supernatural. What follows then is a cooling story, in which Shelley produces a brooding atmosphere or gloom and horror, secret and suspense, exposing initially the sufferings of the developer, and after that the pain and torment of the development. Frankenstein emphasises that “No youth could have passed more gladly than mine”.
Shelley contrasts the description of Frankenstein’s childhood which is both reputable and enjoyable, to the ‘bleak and narrow reflection upon self’ which Frankenstein now feels on telling his story to the lieutenant. He describes his fascination for ‘the structure of the human frame’ (page 79) and his various developments in his work, however what is stressed more is his fixation with his work. When his experiment is finally total, there is no such happiness.
Frankenstein describes his disappointment and disgust when the beast woke, having ‘strove for nearly two years, and now that I had finished, the beauty of the dream disappeared, and breathless scary and disgust filled my heart’ (page 85) So sickened and repulsed by the being he has actually produced, Victor leaves the room: ‘… one hand was stretched out, relatively to detain me, but I got away’ (page 88). Thus form the minute the Monster is developed, Frankenstein rejects him. His justification for his action is just: ‘Oh! No mortal could support the scary of that countenance! It is this fatal rejection which leads to his own failure and shows that the suffering and solitary state of the beast is a result of Frankenstein’s irresponsibility. Victor’s suffering is brought on by loss of his household and lover, and ultimately himself. Walter explains him as ‘broken in spirit’ but a ‘divine wanderer’ however. Frankenstein says ‘I have actually suffered terrific and unparallel misfortunes.’ Victor is not just describing the murders, but also to the trial of Justice who is incorrectly implicated of murdering the young boy, William.
Victor is aware that it remained in fact the Beast who devoted the murder, and when Justine’s verdict is announced, Victor can only consider his own regret: ‘The tortures of the implicated might not equal mine … the fangs of remorse tore at my bosom’. Victor blames himself for the deaths that happen since just he is aware of his production and that it was he who let lose the malice of the ‘fiend’. His frame of mind results in his illness, and usually in a Romantic novel, Shelley proves language can not describe the nature of experience and is therefore limited, as Victor states: ‘… he sense of guilt which rushed me to hell of intense tortures, such as no language can explain.’ Victor explains his own solitary state has being ‘deep, dark, death– like privacy’ and this implants bitter rage within him: ‘My abhorrence for this fiend can not be developed’ therefore he swears to avenge the murders. The arrival of the beast exposes to the reader a various story of suffering. Shelly prepares the reader for a scary gothic figure, but when he finally appears before the vehement Victor, he is made up and calmly states: ‘I anticipated this reception … all guys hate the sorrowful’.
His demeanour and eloquent speeches expose a discovered individual whose rationality supersedes even Victors, additionally, there is a tone of remorse and pain in his voice. It is particular that Victor’s development only grows monstrous qualities through his sufferings. Victor developed life and abandoned it, and the monster even mentions helplessly:’ No daddy had enjoyed my infant days’. His creation therefore has no identity, household, society, house or buddy. He acknowledges that he is various: ‘Who was I? What was I? Whence did I come? What was my destination?.’ His perceptions of himself are developed as an outcome of societies responses to him.
He is ‘hideous and enormous’ and suffers for these factors in privacy. He explains his preliminary sensations as a brand-new animal in the world, a ‘defenseless, miserable lowlife; I knew and could distinguish absolutely nothing; but feelings of discomfort attack me on all sides, I sat down and wept.’ His experiences are painful and emotional, and yet impressive; the beast’s sensory experiences are like a kid that is abandoned and frantically trying to make it through. His very first encounter with mankind leaves him scared ‘unpleasant … from the barbarity of guy’ (130) Nevertheless, his encounter with the home family expose the genuine nature and qualities of the Monster.
He yearns to be part of a family unit and on seeing the household weep, he realises their pain is hardship. He understands that by stealing from them ’caused pain on the cottagers, I stayed away and satisfied myself with berries’ (141) He helps them by collecting fire wood and without their understanding tends to their crops, and his only benefit is his individual complete satisfaction of being able to assist the needed. It can be stated that at this phase, the animal is only monstrous in appearance, and his recognition of the cottagers suffering programs his amazing understanding qualities.
His romantic descriptions of his observations of the children and the caring nature of the household, juxtapose with his solitude and his sensations of self- loathing which are epitomised in seeing his reflection in the lake: ‘I was filled with bitterest sensations of despondence and mortification.’ When the cottagers lastly discover him, they too react through physical violence and eventually the monster is turned down once again just to return to his privacy and misery: ‘Of my development and creator I was definitely oblivious … endowed with a figure hideously warped and pesky; I was not even of the very same nature as man … When I looked round I saw and became aware of none like me … a blot upon this earth which all guys left, and whom all males disowned’ (149) The monster is visibly familiar with his alienation and his reflections trigger him agony and sorrow. He reveals his discomfort through roaming, and this is a turning point which captures the shift entirely: ‘I offered vent to my anguish in fearful howling. I resembled a wild beast.’ His distress and misery are with a world loaded with bias where he is given no possibility, and therefore, he predicts his rage at his environments tearing at branches and trees, and lastly ‘sank on the damp turf in the sick impotence of worry. It is at this minute that he understands his goodness will never ever be identified; he is grotesque but has physical strength as his only tool, hence declaring ‘everlasting war’ on his ‘enemies’, and above all, ‘against he who had actually formed me’, his creator, Victor Frankenstein, the root of his suffering. The image which follows is a hellish and ghoulish scene of the monster wailing into the night and burning down the home he had actually once liked. His stream of bad fortune is simply terrible and Shelley seems to be exposing the inhumanity of humanity.
The significance of the 3 texts which the beast encounters can not be neglected. The first text is Goethe’s The Sorrows Of Young Werther which enables the beast to understand his own singular state and depression. He weeps whilst Werther suffers too as an orphan and singular walker, and includes: ‘I used much personally and to my own sensations and condition’ (153) He compares his Werther’s desires to become part of Charlottes family to his own which were to become part of the cottage family, the De Lacey’s.
Shelley’s novel also draws from her mother’s work, such as Vindication in which the influence is apparent through the beast’s actions; he is deprived of the domesticity and love necessary for human beings. Hence through Goethe’s text, he finds out of the domestic idyll. The second text is the Volume of Plutarch’s lives which portrays the history of the origins of humanity, and from the text he finds out ‘high thoughts’, and goes on to state: ‘He raised me above the sorrowful sphere of my own reflection [of self- pity and gloom], to admire and like the heroes of past ages’.
Nevertheless it is the third text, Milton’s Paradise Lost which is most striking in its parallel towards both the Beast and Victor. The monster found a correlation in between his condition and specified: ‘Like Adam, I was obviously unified by no link to any other human being … I was sorrowful, helpless and alone. Often times I considered Satan as the fitter symbol of my condition’ (page-136). The monster’s main complaint is that he is alone and he demands that Victor make a buddy for him: ‘I am alone, and unpleasant; man will not relate to me … y companion needs to be of the same species and have the very same flaws’ (Page 168) Society has actually rejected him because he is ‘warped and horrible’, but this suffering causes the beast retuning to find his developer so that loneliness can just be overcome by a companion– this is a huge realisation in the monster: and more considerably, is that this suffering brought on by total solitude, is experienced by people too. Thus the suffering felt by the monster makes him no different to man. The beast goes on to state that a buddy is ‘essential for my being’ (Pg 168) and the only treatment for his harmful behaviour and torment.
When Victor refuses a ‘fiendish rage animated him as he stated this; his face was wrinkled into contortions too dreadful for human eyes to behold …’ (Pg 169) This is his response to someone refusing what he desires most, what has haunted him considering that his production and his rage is hardly unexpected when thinking about the suffering he has actually sustained. ‘Each time languor and indifference sneak upon us our functions fall into decay …’ This is where the monster’s argument finds its roots, for as Godwin composes in Political Justice, in order to be ‘cheerful’, we need to ‘cultivate a kind and good-hearted tendency … Godwin likewise expressed his views on solitary confinement and these too appear to be echoed in the text:’The soul yearns, with inexpressible yearnings, for the society of its like.’ The beast is for this reason likened to the transgressor in singular confinement and pleads for a buddy: ‘Who can tell the suffering of him who is condemned to undisturbed privacy? Who can inform this that this is not, to the majority of mankind the bitterest torture that human ingenuity can inflict? (Pg 251) Echoing Godwin, who composed ‘A man is of more worth than a monster’, Victor overlooking the monster’s pleas, ruins the unfinished female monster. This is the penultimate occasion which triggers ruthless suffering withstood by the monster. The extent of his suffering is epitomised with the monster questioning Victor: ‘Shall each guy discover a spouse for his bosom, and each monster have his mate, and I be alone? Are you to be happy while I grovel in the intensity of my wretchedness?’ (Volume 3, chapter 2) Hence there is a dreadful outcome to Victor’s reasoning.
In Mary Shelley’s Gothic novel, Frankenstein wish to be the source of brand-new species, however ironically, his animal evolves into a self acknowledged Satan who swears everlasting revenge and war upon his creator and all the mankind. The monster shows that hell is an internal condition which is produced and increased through loneliness. Both master and animal are torn by their internal conflicts from misapplied knowledge and their sense of isolation. In P. B. Shelley’s poem, the singular walker suffers as a result of his own actions and option to be abandon society. He suffers for having fantasies that will never ever be a truth.
Thus his suffering is a result of his own disillusionment. BIBLIOGRAPHY 1. Shelley, P. B., Alastor: Or, The Spirit Of Solitude 2. Shelley, Mary Wollstonecraft, Frankenstein; or, the Modern Prometheus,(D. L. Macdonald and Kathleen Scherf) 1999. 3. Duncan Wu, ed,. Romanticism: A Critical Reader, (Blackwell, 1995) 4. Butler, Marilyn, Romantics, Rebels and Revolutionaries: English Literature and its Background, 1760-1830,(Oxford University Press, 1981) 5. Goethe, J. W., The Grief of Young Werther(Penguin Books, 1985) 6. Furst, Lilian, European Romanticism, (Wayne State University Press, 1990).