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Exam Style Question: Frankenstein

Exam style response to GCSE Question

Date : 07/03/2023

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Uploaded by : Kanwar
Uploaded on : 07/03/2023
Subject : English

Starting with this extract (Chapter 10), write about how Shelley presents the importance of justice in people’s lives. ;

Write about:

  • how Shelley presents the monster’s desire for justice in this extract
  • how Shelley presents the importance of justice in the novel as a whole
`Remember that I am thy creature; I ought to be thy Adam, but I am rather the fallen angel, whom thou drivest from joy for no misdeed.` Nowhere is the essence of justice more inextricably linked with humanity, with our own capacity to administer it, not based on a sense of duty but an inner intuition and understanding of our relation to the Universal, Natural laws that govern the world we live in.
The sense of justice that the Creation feels comes from a rather impressive understanding of the natural, unteachable, intangible order of `things` that is felt most reasonably, most purely and most truthfully by the created than by the Creator:

"I am thy creature, and I will be even mild and docile to my natural lord and king if thou wilt also perform thy part, the which thou owest me."

What we are getting to here is the difference between the idea of justice and the administration and natural functioning of justice. The difference being one is practically considered and the other is rather conceptualised away and easily forgotten. Victor himself is prone to taking flight, the mountains `filled me with a sublime ecstasy that gave wings to the soul and allowed it to soar from the obscure world to light and joy.` The natural order of justice, adminstered blind to his human faculties is a solace, a joy because he refuses to understand the full implications of its proper cause and effect in human affairs. He is purposefully, furtively blind to meaning.

Victor`s responses to the Creation`s entreaties, `Begone, or let us try our strength in a fight, in which one must fall,` are indicative of a reflexive, institutionalised state of mind that substitutes outcomes for justice. Much in fact in the preceding two chapters reflects Victor`s inability to come to terms with the meaning of justice. Shelley provides fertile grounds during Justine`s trial for an act, a gesture of honesty and courage to give the jury a sense of what justice might mean. Victor`s thoughts are naive and foolish, `During the whole of this wretched mockery of justice I suffered living torture.` The mockery of justice are of his own making - let us not blame his creative acts but his misunderstanding of justice being a living, breathing truth of relations between beings.

The natural justice we speak of in oblique and conceptual terms is blind, which makes it precisely the elemental force in ethics that keeps it well supported for millennia. The justice that Victor speaks of is institutionalised, perhaps irreparably so. The critique here is that justice is failed because society fails. Society fails because it has been stripped of its dignity, its human responsibility. In the era Shelley wrote the Newtonian conception of Universal material order promulgated a lazy false equivalence that relations between humans were adequately ordered, human justice following quite logically. It made justice a black and white matter, not realising the immense contextuality which renders our faculties of judgement all the more important.

However, we come to a tautology in the 19th century where increasing general acceptance of human biology as a worthwhile scientific enterprise leads to some established scientific `laws` or `proofs`. In this era of radical change and innovation, the innovation of the human mind (as Victor well exemplifies) cannot reconcile or handle the immense power that Creation begets. Then it becomes very easy if not justifiable to some to claim that the same justice we administer between equal beings is the same ordained by a Creator. In fact, this equivalence is the abrupt end of discussions of justice because it would logically extend to saying we can extinguish what we create. Justice has been arbitrarily and irrationally subverted.

There is injustice in what Victor has done because he has failed to differentiate between the justice that is blind and graciously given to us in our understanding of the world and that which is used responsibly between beings living in the earthly realm. He has violated the natural order because he has acted like the First Being. As the Creation tells us perceptively, `If the multitude of mankind knew of my existence, they would do as you do, and arm themselves for my destruction.` The malleability of justice and its contextual importance should be obvious to Victor. He tells us in a manner all too suggestive that `I, not in deed, but in effect, was the true murderer.` If this is not a clear understanding of a just statement within context then nothing is. Moreover, Elizabeth herself reflects with no blame whatsoever in fact, but that in feeling `(Yet) I am certainly unjust.` How is this to be reconciled?

From this we can see Shelley is rebuking those who treat justice as a personal whim, a decidedly personal decision that is static when we want it to be and moveable when interests pertain in whatever direction. This is given confirmation bias within a given society.

In fact, once a `being to being` relationship (irrespective of two party consent) is created, justice demands ; that we respect the words here expressed, `Believe me, Frankenstein, I was benevolent; my soul glowed with love and humanity.`

Victor exemplifies the human factors which actively denigrate justice inch by inch. Is it any wonder then that we end up in the nihilistic quandary expressed almost as a throwaway comment,

"Shall I not then hate them who abhor me? I will keep no terms with my enemies. I am miserable, and they shall share my wretchedness."

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