Frankenstein: Volume 3 ( last chapters)

As I was done reading the last letter that Walton sent to his sister Margaret, I stared at the last page for a few minutes. I tried really hard to sort out my thoughts and feelings. Typically, when I read a novel, I have my favorite character who I support through thick and thin. Mary Shelly’s Frankenstein had me constantly in doubt. Do I like or hate Frankenstein? Does he deserve sympathy or he is as bad as the monster that he created? These were some of the questions that I can’t completely answer even now, upon complete reading.

In the end, it really makes me wonder if Victor and the monster have more similarities or differences in common. Ultimately, they are both led by a strong desire for revenge. In the beginning, it is the Monster who seeks revenge as a payback to Victor for refusing to create him a mate. Later on, it’s Victor himself trying to avenge  his murdered friends and family members.

Like the monster, Victor experiences loneliness as well after his beloved get killed. He loses his purpose in life. Maybe better said, he finds the new purpose, and it’s to chase the monster he creates until one of them dies. Victor is desperate to find and kill the monster, so he says, “Scoffing devil! Again do I vow vengeance; again do I devote thee, miserable fiend, to torture and death. Never will I omit my search, until he or I perish”. Victor really dies chasing the monster. He is not the same person from the beginning of the story. He loses his enthusiasm, his best friend, and Imagehis closest family. He has no ideals to live for. He dies as a miserable and a lonely person.

Frankenstein: Vol. 3 (Chapters 1-5)

The section of the novel to which I am writing this blog response is marked by yet another tragedy, the death of Victor’s best friend, Henry Clerval. Clerval is a beautiful young man, and he appears to be almost too perfect to be a real character. Victor’s relationship with him is profound and deeper than with the other characters. Clerval’s nature is opposite to Victor’s. He is smart and savvy but unlike Victor, he has no interest in science. He studies humanities. Languages are his forte. He serves as Frankenstein’s only real connection with society. He comes to Ingolstadt right after Frankenstein creates the monster, and helps him restore his sanity. This is what Victor says upon seeing his best friend, “Nothing could equal my delight on seeing Clerval; his presence brought back to my thoughts my father, Elizabeth, and all those scenes of home so dear to my recollection.” Clerval always reminds Victor of all the good things in life. The world appears better when seen through his friend’s eyes. Clerval has a great heart and can sympathize with Victor’s pain but is never intrusive. He is well mannered and respects his friend’s privacy.

He also possesses the boundless love for nature. He is content with himself and enjoys life. His positive energy is in direct opposite to Frankenstein’s melancholy. He represents the light in Victor’s otherwise dark life. Consequently, Clerval’s death leaves Frankenstein devastated. He is tormented by his best friend’s death since he sees himself as the cause of it. The monster kills Clerval in revenge to Frankenstein. Frankenstein starts creating a mate for the monster but decides to destroy his work. This infuriates the monster and he kills Clerval. Victor’s “freedom” after Clerval’s death feels like a punishment and he says “The cup of life was poisoned for ever; and although the sun shone upon me, as upon the happy and gay of heart, I saw around me nothing but a dense and frightful darkness.” Victor knows that the monster won’t stop inflicting misery upon him, and he fears for those he loves the most.

I almost don’t want to start Imagethe new chapter since I can feel more tragic events are about to take place in Victor’ life…

Frankenstein: Vol. 2, chapters 3-9

The chapters 3-9 cover the monster’s experience with the outer world. Sadly, people are quick to judge others solely based on the appearance. We tend to conform to some universal standards of beauty, and anyone who may not be on a par with it is perceived as strange and is ridiculed. Differences are not often accepted in human society.

The monster isn’t created evil. On the contrary, it demonstrates a high level of sensitivity and compassion. He says,  when they were unhappy, I felt depressed; when they rejoiced, I sympathized in their joys”. Unfortunately, despite all the good deeds that the monster does to earn human affection, his pleas for help remain unheard. He helps the cottagers with their daily routines, hoping that they would accept him into their small family circle. In return, he gets violently attacked before ever getting a chance to introduce himself. Then, he saves the life of a girl who is about to drown, and is rewarded with a bullet. How is this fair? The monster is not really to be blamed for turning malevolent. Humans’ behavior towards him leaves him no option! He desperately wants to make friendships, but no, humans are superficial and prejudiced. The world can’t see passed the obvious physical deformity of the Frankenstein’s creation, and this ultimately leads to the monster’s evil nature.

The monster reading Milton’s “Paradise Lost” and comparing himself to Adam and Satan makes the reader sympathize with him. “Like Adam, I was created apparently united by no link to any other being in existence.”  Just like God creates Adam, Victor creates the monster. Adam and the monster are both very lonely and have a need for a companionship. While God does create a mate for Adam, Frankenstein refuses to do so. frankenstein 3-9

Peer Review Workshop #1

graduate-writing-center-science-peer-review-groupSome of the reasons why I thought that the peer review workshop was a great idea are:

a) each student gets an opportunity to receive an effective feedback;

b) working in smaller groups instead of a whole class is less intimidating and gives more quiet students a chance to be heard;

c) by critiqing other students’ works we are able to observe our own mistakes in writing;

d) getting more than one (instructor’s) review certainly benefits students.

Some of the cons of the workshop that I noticed:

a) some students tend to give very general feedbacks which I find pretty useless. If someone says to me “I really like it, it’s good,” but is unable to provide the supporting arguments for such a statement, it’s not very constructive;

b) I also believe that there’s a little bit of skepticism among students reviewing each other’s works ( we tend to trust the professor’s opinion more than the peers’)

What do you hope to do differently next time?

*Maybe next time we could make a few extra copies of our essay, so our group members can  look at the papers while we read. I had a hard time hearing certain essays. It gets pretty noisy in the classroom when you have 4-5 people reading at the same time. Also, a lot of people including myself are visual, so having a copy in front of me would definitely allow me to give better reviews.

Frankenstein: (Vol. 1, Chapters 4-7, Vol.2 Chapters 1-2)

In chapter 4, the opening sentence, ” It was on a dreary night of November, that I beheld the accomplishment of my toils,” foreshadows the future events. The word “dreary” instantly creates sad feelings and a depressing environment. This is a very useful piece of information to the reader since Victor’s creature has just come alive. The fact that everything is happening in that dreary atmosphere is a warning sign. Frankenstein creates the monster! His creation turns out to be so hideous that even he, his own creator, is repulsed by the monster’s appearance. Driven by desire to give life to an animated corpse, he doesn’t think what possible consequences his actions may have. Once he realizes the proportions of his deed, he simply decides to turn his back on his creation. This part, but also later when Victor encounters the monster in the mountains, serves as an allegory of God and his creation. The monster says to Frankenstein, “I ought to be thy Adam; but I am rather the fallen angel, whom thou drivest from joy for no misdeed. Everywhere I see bliss, from which I alone am irrevocably excluded”. The monster compares himself to Adam, and his creator Frankenstein to God. Like Adam, who disobeys God and gets punished for his sins, the Monster implies that his evil side comes from being cast away from his creator and society as well. His words make it pretty obvious that the Monster kills Victor’s brother William out of revenge for being left to live in solitude.

Being self-absorbed and deceptive, Victor doesn’t share his secret about the Monster with anyone. This is the point when I stop having sympathy for him. His secrecy causes death of innocent people, and the people he loves. Yet, he still doesn’t find it appropriate to share  his guilt. Not even when he sees the ramifications of his “creativeness.”frankenstein3

Frankenstein, Chapters 1-3

When Mary Shelley set off on a journey to write a ghost story, she wanted it to be nothing but a classic! And she absolutely succeeded in her endeavor!

Frankenstein is one of those novels that have your attention instantly grabbed from the very first paragraph.

Even though I am familiar with the plot of the novel, it doesn’t take anything from the excitement I feel from page to page.

Victor is a very appealing character at the beginning of the story. He is young and innocent. He is obsessed with science from an early age. “His thirst for knowledge” is going to be his ultimate curse. Shelley indicates that early in her writing “You seek for knowledge and wisdom, as I once did; and I ardently hope that the gratification of your wishes may not be a serpent to sting you, as MINE has bee.” These are Victor’s words to Robert Walton, who is determined to accomplish his scientific endeavors at any cost. In my opinion, by incorporating these letters into the story, Shelly draws an important parallel between the two men who share the same intellectual drive.

I also couldn’t but notice the shift in Frankenstein’s relationship to others. From what we learn about his childhood, it was very happy and idyllic. He was a loved child and had very supportive parents. Now, maybe his father wasn’t very knowledgeable when it comes to science and was unable to respond to young Victor’s curiosity but there certainly wasn’t the lack of love and support in his family. It seems that at the very beginning, Victor reciprocates the love received but as his scientific journey advances, he is more and more caught up in his work and slowly becomes alienated. He desperately wants to create life, that he devotes himself completely to reaching that goal.

My cheek had grown pale with study, and my person had become emaciated with confinement.” What is behind his obsessive desire to do so? Could it be glory? And what happens when he finally reaches his goal and his creation comes to life?

I am looking forward to further reading and finding out the answers to all the questions I have at the moment.

 

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The Tell-Tale Heart

“The Tell-Tale Heart” is another great short story in which Edgar Allan Poe points out how distorted our own impressions can be when mentally ill.

Another detail that Poe takes into account is the fact that people who suffer from psychological disorders typically try to convince others that there is nothing wrong with them. Along the same lines, the narrator repeats himself  by asserting that he is not insane. “How then am I mad? Hearken! And observe how healthily, how calmly, I can tell you the whole story.” Later on, while describing his friend’s Evil Eye and rationalizing  his plot to kill the man, he says “I made up my mind  to take the life of the old man, and thus rid myself of the eye for ever.” Now, this sounds very lucid, doesn’t it!

Typically, the stories that end with a grisly murder involve certain conflicts between the characters, or at least the feelings of hatred or jealousy. No, not in this case! The narrator even expresses his love for the old man. All he has against the poor man is his Evil Eye, and that makes him appear even more lunatic.

We all know that eyes are the windows into someone’s soul. What leaves me perplexed after reading the story is the question whether the old man was really an evil creature or all of it was just the product of the narrator’s sick imagination. Having said that, the old man never wronged or insulted the narrator, so I tend to believe that the “vulture eye” was in fact the narrator’s deep fears and violent nature that he didn’t want to be revealed by the old man. It is not the “vulture” eye by accident! Vultures can see everything and they prey on dead. Perhaps the narrator was afraid of dying and thought that by killing the man and his Evil Eye, he would be able to free himself from those morbid thoughts…

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Fortunato’s Unfortunate Ending…

    

       Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Cask of Amontillado” is one of the great examples how dark human psyche can be…

       Montresor’s twisted nature drives him to commit the murder and justify it by the THOUSAND injuries and insults that he supposedly suffered from Fortunato.

      I can’t but wonder why the narrator doesn’t mention at least one of them? Could it be because he doesn’t want us to realize that his masterpiece punishment doesn’t fit the crime? Montresor’s vindictiveness goes beyond any justification. His brilliant mind makes me almost like him despite the fact that he ends up committing the vicious crime. He carefully plans the murder to the very last detail. Also, he possesses a great macabre humor which helps build suspense in the story and foreshadow evil in the future. For instance, when Montresor displays a false concern for his “friend’s” cough while roaming the vaults by saying: “Your health is precious…You are a man to be missed. For me it is no matter.” In other words, he is alarming Fortunato about nitre that could exacerbate his cough. Meanwhile, he is taking him to the tomb.

       In my opinion, Poe employs irony very effectively throughout the story. Starting with a very symbolic name of the character, Fortunato, to de Grave,the type of wine that he is offered by Montresor just minutes prior to his death. Poor Fortunato, he is anything but fortunate! If only he weren’t so vain and proud of his connoisseurship in wine! Intelligent Montresor applies reverse psychology on Fortunato every time he mentiones Luchesi knowing that he is his friend’s competitor.

       Also, very carefully chosen the setting of the story contributes to the complete horror effect. Damp and dark vaults, and secluded catacombs help the reader visualize events and connect with the characters as well. While reading the story, I felt as if I had been hidden in one of the recesses in the Montresor’s palazzo observing the murder of Fortunato.Image

A Good Man Is Hard to Find

Having already read O’Connor’s “Good Country People”, I was able to draw a slight parallel between that story and her “A Good Man Is Hard to Find”. Both stories portray characters who tend to present themselves in a different light from what they truly are.

In “A Good Man Is Hard to Find”, I find the grandmother to be the most deceptive and superficial of all the other characters. While I have no sympathy for the Misfit, I still see him as someone who is more sincere and consistent with his beliefs ( even though his evil deeds cannot be justified by any means), than the old so-called lady. She generates lies, manipulates her family members, acts selfishly in crucial moments, and does all of it while wearing a mask of a “true lady”…It’s ironic that she says to the Misfit “You could be honest too if you’d only try,” as if she were honest with her son about bringing the cat along, or wanting to visit her connections in Tennessee rather than travel to Florida. She is very judgmental, ready to criticize everyone but won’t admit any of her faults. For instance, right before the accident, when she realized that she was wrong about the house they were looking to visit, she decided to stick with it and not tell the truth. Ultimately, it was her fault that the entire family was killed. 

None of the characters in the story has good morals and values.The grandmother is  too self-complacent; the men are short-tempered, abusive, and disrespectful; and the children are rude and unruly.

In a sense, even though it may sound harsh of me to say, maybe death came as redemption to the family who didn’t live by true Christian values…

 

The First Week of Classes


           I must admit that being an international student is not easy. Sometimes, in classes like our ours, where a vast majority  of students are English native speakers, it can be little tricky. Every once in a while you hear or read a word that you are not familiar with. While you feel like asking someone about the meaning( since you shouldn’t be using your cellphone in class, right? Otherwise the google friend would help out),you don’t really want another twenty plus sets of eyes staring at you and wondering how in the world someone can not know it…

         I am also not a student of a typical age (please don’t get too excited: I have no intention of revealing how old I really am!), and consider myself pretty old-fashioned when it comes to technology… While I do like using Facebook, texts etc., I was pretty darn scared when Prof. Pope opened up her class with the notion of a blog…I left the class last Wednesday with mixed feelings…Wasn’t quite sure how to go about the whole blogging concept, but I am not a quitter! After all, It took a lot of sleepless nights, fear and courage to pack up a suitcase and leave Serbia, the place where I was born, raised and pretty much established. Yes, I came with just a suitcase but not just any suitcase. This one contained much more than clothes, and shoes. This one was filled up with black and white memories from my childhood, an old shabby pillow to heal nostalgia when I lay my head on it, but before everything else, it was filled with high expectations and big dreams. After all, I was going to the Promised Land for an infinite amount of time. 

       I hope I didn’t digress too much and still have your attention. Most of the fears I mentioned above were gone by our Friday’s class.I am really not trying to flatter Prof. Pope, but I love having professors who truly care about their students and show genuine interest in getting to know them better. Being a teacher myself, I think of it as the only right approach.

      Long story short, I expect this to be an adventurous and pretty exciting class..I’ve learned to trust my intuition and so far, it has never been wrong!

      Good luck everyone! 🙂