This is a course blog for the members of EH236 at the University of South Alabama, Spring 2006.

Sunday, March 05, 2006

Industrialization and Frankenstein

When I first saw that our reader response was supposed to compare Shelley’s novel and European industrialization, I became a little nervous. I could not imagine what they could have in common. After some thinking, however, I saw many things that the novel had in common with industrialization. In the following sentences, I will discuss the similarities they have. I will use the similarities to show how the novel truly reflects the anxieties around by European industrialization.
The first thing that I believe they share is the concept of creation. In Frankenstein, Victor creates a monster out of the remains of dead bodies. When it seems like he could not complete it, he never gave up. He did complete his goal—but greatly regretted it. His creation wound up ruining his life, along with the lives of his entire family. The thing that he believed to be good was in fact the worst thing he had ever done. Industrialization is also a creation of sorts. Industrialization occurs after the creation of new tools (such as Whitney’s cotton gin) and the explosion of factories throughout Europe, especially in places like London. The creation of new tools occurred when people began putting old parts together in new ways, similar to Victor repiecing together old parts. People were very excited about industrialization and wanted it in order to create jobs and therefore improve their lives. However, in reality that did not happen. Many people’s lives were ruined because of the poor condition of many factories. What people had been so excited about they began to fear. Frankenstein is a perfect example of the fear people began having towards industrialization—Victor became afraid of what he had created, especially what it would do, and people were afraid of their creations and the effects it would have on society.
Another similarity I believe both have is how society shapes them. The monster is created not knowing anything about humans or life. He learns everything from watching other people, especially the cottagers. He at first believes in the goodness of humans, yet after he is mistreated for the way he looks and for being so different, he turns into an evil monster. At heart he was not a monster…he was a kind, considerate being. I feel sorry for him because if society had treated him differently, they would not be so afraid of him. Industrialization is also similar to the monster in that the way people viewed it gave it bad connotations. Yes, it had its bad moments, but overall it could have been a very good thing. Instead the demands of society forced it be bad for many countries, especially those who were not industrialized yet. Frankenstein reflects that nervousness people had about how industrialization would affect their lives. The monster only affected them negatively because he was treated negatively. Industrialization has negative aspects often because people mistreated it and the people that worked for them (especially in factories, as I have mentioned). The monster can be seen as a warning to the people that if they are not careful, industrialization could indeed backfire. You have to be careful with thing that is unknown—they could be helpful, or they could wind up hurting you in the end, as is what happened in Frankenstein. What is important is that you contain control over the creation—do not let the creation start controlling you.

Stephanie Bosarge


Blogger LS said...

Nicely written response, Stephanie. I like your description of having started off uncertain as to how Frankenstein could be related to European industrialization. You then do a very good job of considering the possibile linkages that the topic suggests.

2:54 PM  

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