Thecreature and Victor Frankenstein. Similar to how Marxist theory observes theremarkable struggle between social classes, the interactions between saidcharacters, and their struggles, are put on display by Shelly. The exchangesbetween different characters (or social classes) can be explained by Marx’sCommunist Manifesto which states that two classes, one being “the owners” of productionnamed the bourgeoisie and “the workers” or the proletariat (Montag 386).
Inthis situation Victor can be compared to the bourgeoisie while the creation canbe represented by the proletariat. In Frankenstein,a similar dynamic arises within the relationship between Victor and hiscreation as a definitive struggle rises between the two characters. After thesuccessful “birth” of the monster Victor enjoys the reaps of his labor andestablishes his power—effectively exerting control over the “lower class” or,in this case, his creation. Throughout this evolution, Shelly depicts therelationship between the monster and Frankenstein with Shelly depicts theMarxist evaluation of capitalism. Later on, when Victor becomes enslaved by thehorror of his creation, similar Marxist theory is displayed through what isdefined as the products of labor. As a result of this, the monster becomespowerful and rebels against Victor, or his creator, who he describes asincompatible.
This power struggle represents the struggle between the upper andlower classes, or, the bourgeoisie and the proletariat. At the conclusion ofthis all, it is clear that Victor has created something that he cannot begin tounderstand nor control. History has represented this power struggle again andagain with the introduction of unions within the workforce—those involved beganto speak out against their higher counterparts in seek of employee rights. As aresult, the workers gained more say within their work environment (Montag 385). Thereare many parallels between the monster, Victor, and their similarities betweenthe bourgeoisie and proletariat. By using many dissimilar, miss-matching parts,Victor was able to fashion the monster in a jumbled way— this is furtherrelated to the assorted population that composes the proletariat. Marxism describesthe proletariat as “recruited from all classes of the population” (Marx 228). Additionally,Shelly emphasizes Frankenstein and his preparation for creating the monster— “Icollected bones from the charnel house.
In a solitary chamber, or rather cell,at the top of the house, and separated from all the other apartments by galleryand staircase, I kept my workshop of filthy creation: my eye balls werestarting from their sockets in attending to the details of my employment. The dissectingroom and the slaughter house furnished many of my materials,” (Shelly 58). Itis clear that the reader can see how segmented the creation will be as well asthe intense contempt that Victor feels towards it—so much so that he neglectsto care for the tools that will bring the creature to life.
Regardless of Victorsnegligence the power in this uncommon pair does not remain in Victors hands.Through a Marxist lens it is clear that the monsters physical size and prowessare meant to symbolize the large population and strength of the laboring proletariat class. Unlike the riche bourgeoisie,the proletariat engages in hard work and thus develop strong physical traitsand, in this case, the higher power. Thestruggle of power between the monster and Victor dose not originate without surmountingevidence.
Frankenstein is representative of the higher class in this novel dueto the fact that he comes from a wealthy background in which his world viewshaped by his privileged childhood: “My family is one of the most distinguishedof Geneva. My ancestors had been for many years counselors and syndics; andmy father had filled several public situations with honor and reputation. Hewas respected by all who knew him, for his integrity and indefatigableattention to public business” (Shelly 40). Due to his advantaged backgroundVictor often acts in a selfish fashion—this is largely represented in the wayhe treats his creation. This oppression is similar to the way the bourgeoisiewould treat the lesser proletariat class. Victors’ power is short-lived as hequickly loses control over the monster—similar to Marx’s argument that statedthat an oppressive society generally succumbs to the requests of the lowerclass. This further proves that with power comes great responsibility—a life ofprivilege sometimes does not adequately teach this.
Tofully understand this power struggle that Victor encounters throughout Frankenstein one must look further intowhat the author—Mary Shelly might have been influenced by while writing thisnovel. Generally speaking, there is strong evidence that this story isextremely alternative and revolutionary in its ideology and nature. With thisin mind, it is important to delve into Shelly’s background. First and foremost,Shelly was raised by parents that were extremist philosophers. Additionally, itis clear that given the historical context of the work the English revolutionas well as the French and Haitian revolution influenced Shelly’s writing,implementing a revolutionary spirit on the theme of this novel.
it It is clearthat the novel plays heavily on societal fear of uprising and revolution when lookingat it through a Marxist lens. At the end of the day, Victor must battle withthe monster, who symbolizes the proletariat, that revolts against him— makingthe theme of revolution easily discernable. WhileShelly’s history of her childhood growing up with extremist philosophers greatlyshaped her work, her experience with the relationship she had with her husbandPercy greatly shaped the character development of Victor and the shallow worldview he lived with. Percy Shelly was the son of a wealthy county squire withroyal ancestry and a political stronghold. Percy’s experience growing up inlavish wealth is similar to Victors experience in a distinguished family withinfluential ancestors.
Additionally, it is alleged that Shelly’s husband leftMary to pursue an affair with her step-sister shortly after Mary gave birth totheir premature baby Bennett. This is strikingly similar to Victors actions—specificallywhen he runs away from his creation when themonster finally comes to life and comes toward him. From this correlation, itremains true that privilege has instilled lack of responsibility on both fictitiousVictor Frankenstein and Mary Shelly’s husband Percy.