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

Monday, April 10, 2006




Throughout the year, the class has read and discussed several pieces of literature from all over the world, ranging every where from the eighteenth to twentieth centuries. These stories have covered everything from informative articles, adventurous tales, autobiographies, to dramatic novels, and seemingly everywhere in-between. Each story has proven its place in history as well as there authors’, and will undoubtedly continue to be discussed for several years to come. Of course, one will not favor every story as much as they may another, but the favored ones in return, will not always hold the same emotional affect as the other to the reaeder. It also seems that if the reader takes the time to read a story over more than once, he or she will realize how that writing is capable of touching them in different ways each time they read it. Out of the several stories we have read in class throughout the semester, two in particular that have in fact had this affect on myself would include Johann Wolfgang von Goethe’s “Faust” and Mary Wollstonecraft Shelly’s “Frankenstein”.
Each of these masterpieces are revered as much today (if not more) as they were all those years ago when they were first published for the public to set their eyes as well as their minds upon. Both of these pieces of work were in fact written around the same time and each have several likenesses as well as many differences from one another. Other than the title, these two literary accomplishments also share a writing style from two authors from the same part of the world. While they were not published in the same area of the world the two writers, having a similar geographical background, could easily attribute to their styles of writing.
A very noticeable as well as interesting aspect that these two stories share, is the presence of the art of science. Both Shelley and Goethe have deeply implanted this feature in their stories. Without this, there would in fact be no story in either case. If somehow a story with the same title did still exist, it would not be the same magnificent one that we read today nor could it at all, in either case hold the same meaning. This is so deeply imbedded, so crucial for the existence of both stories, that it is too hard to imagine how (if at all) either could exist without it. In both stories the main characters are betrayed as highly renowned scientists or scholars. Goethe and Shelley have equally made their characters so obsessed with their studies, so bored of what has already been accomplished by other scholars of their time, so extremely ahead of everyone who surrounds them, that they resort to the most mythical, horrific, demonic, never before heard of, extraordinary course of actions that could be imagined. In Faust’s case, the reader sees a man who no longer sees any value to life, no beauty in the world. This as well as other events have led to his prying into another field of study; magic. In the instance of Frankenstein one reads of someone who is so obsessively determined of reaching higher grounds (an extent so high to be considered maniacal) in the field of science. While the route in which these two characters take is different, both authors have used these chosen paths to stand for a certain goal; ultimate power and godlike abilities!
The presence of religion was much more in play in the case of “Faust”. While mention was made in “Frankenstein” at certain intervals, this novel was more Victorianistic: seeing nature as more of the cause for much around ones self compared to a higher power such as God. These qualities (reiligion and nature) prove to play as significant a role in these two stories as does the great art of science. The ever present views of Gods, daemons, angels, and devils in “Faust” all play cause towards the persuasion and decisions of the main character. After some brief research into the personal beliefs or religion of Goethe, i have learned that the view of religion does not play half the role in Goethe’s personal life than it does in that of his fictional character Faust’s. A well known quote of Goethe states:
Much there is I can stand. Most things not easy to suffer
I bear with quiet resolve, just as a God commands it.
Only a few things I find as repugnant as snakes and poison,
These four: tobacco smoke, bedbugs and garlic and Christ.
Yes this quote shows only his view towards the religious figure of Christ, but as I have read, during the latter part of the year the same could be said of any other significant religious leader of different belief. The reason I have chosen to list this, is to express why it is I find the dedicated use of religion in this story so intriguing. Apart from his own views, a creation is formed with such a strong belief of higher being that in m eyes seems even the more greater coming from the mind of one who himself has know emotional attachment of any kind that in any way relates. While this may in fact not be that difficult in the least to achieve for one such as Goethe, I can’t help but see such a feat anything other than mesmerizing.
Where Goethe leaves off with religious or spiritual importance to his plot, Shelley makes up for in Family ties. The gravity that Shelley puts into the existence of family relations in Frankenstein is much like that of the spiritual view of “Faust”. Neither of the two are more captivating than the other; to compare the two is not done to show which one out weighs the other, but serves more as an observation of what and how these two authors put these articles into play. If one was to examine these two features, it is possible that a hypothesis could be raised stating that these articles represent the same meaning or importance for these two characters only expressed in different ways. I thought that now would be an ample time to list examples of each but it seems that “the spirit has promted me(Faust 56)” much as it did Faust, and I have chosen to go another route. Just to make it short, (and I ask now as I am not sure if it is something that this {sudden outbreak} does not work against me in the affect of the formal writing expectations of this paper) I had planned to make mention of how, at one point Faust was wrapped up in the new testament wanting to revise what he felt right (“I confidently write: ‘In the beginning was the Deed!) as well as quote some of the sentimentally expressed letters written back and forth between Elizabeth, Victor, his father, and how in my mind they seem to relate. So, instead of creating such examples I will put it more into my words
Yes, spirituality and family are two different things, but are they? In this case I argue that they are in fact not! Does mysticism not hold the same extreme level of lustful necessity to Faust as family (specifically in his earlier years) does to Frankenstein? Do Goethe and Shelley not use these two incredible themes to such a magnitude that they have become parallels of one another: as if in a different light but with the same bulb giving that light? Does a reader not feel what (as created by these indescribable writers) affect these parallels mean to each story and how they seem to precisely have the same feel? These questions are what have leaded me to conscientiously conclude that, as I have stated, these two are the same. One would be highly mistaken to believe that everything ends there, because in fact that is no more than just a taste.
In my eyes Goethe and Shelley both have embedded another emotion rising factor in their papers: That being, the presence of one hell of a devilish atmosphere. A reader can plainly see that Faust and his calling upon a demon for his desires as well as Frankenstein’s resorting to experimentations that, at least up until this point in time on top of the basis of belief from other men and women of science (so to say) right minded or ordinary people were devilish acts. To make note of course, one could see how this holds weight to the raised atmospheric conditions comparison. Why is it that both of these author’s have chosen to take this darker approach? Well, for starters it has to do with their writing styles which are of course created by their personalities as well as imaginations. I feel it is also due to their extreme writing experience and how each are aware that by using this darker side, what feeling this will arise in the reader, and how unbelievably fit this emotion is for what they are trying to create. Without this dark side would either story exist? Of course not! How in God’s name would the creation of a man made being or a gentleman with the urge to call upon a higher power for his own benefit, have been possible without this effect? These queries are easily put into their respectable place. The fact, being which I have described why I feel the writers have used this dark touch is the unattested reason of why I enjoy this so ideally placed touch.


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