Crying of Lot 49 Term Paper

Download this Term Paper in word format (.doc)

Note: Sample below may appear distorted but all corresponding word document files contain proper formatting

Excerpt from Term Paper:

Dominance of Humanity over Nature: Conflict and Change in 19th Century Human Society in the Frankenstein by Mary Shelley

Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley, author of the novel Frankenstein (1818), had introduced in literature a new genre and theme where human society and nature experiences conflict over time. The novel primarily depicts the state of humanity in the 19th century, where the effects of the Enlightenment period are reinforced through the study of the natural sciences (biology, physics, and chemistry, among others) and predominance of empirical thought, i.e., human knowledge acquired through experience and obtained through the scientific method.

With these state of events and forces dominating 19th century human society, this paper's analysis of the novel Frankenstein is two-fold: one facet discusses the issue of conflict and change happening in human society during the period, and the other facet looking into the dynamics of these changes, through exemplars and cases illustrated in the novel. However, despite this two-fold analysis, one recurring and dominant theme is inherent in the discussion and analysis, and this is the theme of humanity vs. nature, and how this conflict affects the development of science and state of humanity in the novel Frankenstein. Specifically, this paper posits that Frankenstein serves as a chronicle of human history, where science (supported by humanity) dominated over nature, thereby causing changes and conflicts that helped shape and improve modern societies of today.

Discussing the theme of conflict between humanity and nature necessitates a clarification of how the former is differentiated from the latter in the novel. Although humanity is part of nature, its role in the novel is antagonistic: as human society acquired knowledge to better its state and living conditions, nature, its creator, suffered the effects of humanity's inventions and innovations. This situation is an analogy to Shelley's creation of conflict between Victor Frankenstein, the protagonist, and the Monster / Daemon / Devil, who is considered the creature who made possible Frankenstein's demise and downfall. Frankenstein, the creator who subsists to science, and the Monster, who is a product of science, turned against each other in the novel. This conflict between the two main characters shows that, just as humanity turned against its own (nature), science, as Shelley envisioned, also turned against itself, destroying humanity (its creator) in the process.

The novel's symbolic representation of the conflict between creator (nature and Frankenstein) and creation (humanity and Monster) gave birth to the theme of humanity vs. nature in the novel. The theme of humanity vs. nature has different readings, or perspectives, in current literature about the novel. One popular notion that the theme elucidates is the argument that Frankenstein is basically a novel about change, promoting and stunting it at the same time. St. Claire (2000) expounds on this premise, arguing that the novel "... would contribute, in its small way, to the general intellectual and moral improvement of society in its slow, much interrupted, but cumulative progress towards perfection" (41).

The concepts of "intellectual and moral improvement" and "progress" are strongly tied to the study of science. As a new philosophy, science equates intellectual and moral improvement by encouraging objectivity among people, which can be attained through empiricism and the scientific method. Consequently, scientific philosophy also believes and promises humanity that with intellectual and moral development comes social progress, improving human society. In effect, science is considered constructive and advantageous for humanity, a direct contrast to nature, which is conceived as static and does not hold the promise of social progress advocated for by scientific philosophers.

Does science indeed promise humanity both moral and intellectual development and social progress? Looking into Shelley's illustration of conflict and change in the novel, this question is not answered, but instead compromised as the author presents the positive and detrimental effects of science to nature. Frankenstein considers humanity's pursuit for knowledge through the natural sciences as constructive, but this positive aspect can only go far as improve inventions and materials significant to progress and development. Primarily, the novel illustrates the concept of change as synonymous with conflict, illustrated by the Frankenstein's realization of science as the "unhallowed arts" and worsening of his own state of affairs as he successfully created the Monster (Shelley, 1994:60).

The death of William and Justine served as foreshadowing of the downfall and demise in the life of Frankenstein. Both William and Justine are 'indirect victims' of Frankenstein through his creation, the Monster. Frankenstein's reference to both characters as "first hapless victims to my unhallowed arts" provides the readers an idea to the development of the novel, wherein more similar instances of human deaths and sufferings are illustrated (60).

Even the Monster, as a product of science, feels and in fact, embodies, the detrimental effect of science, which results to the disintegration and eventual 'objectification' of human society. This means that as science makes human life developed and progressive, society becomes more segmented, preferring their own pursuit of knowledge rather than value human relationship and interaction. The Monster expressed his desire for human interaction, asserting that despite his hideous appearance, "my (his) soul glowed with love and humanity." And as a result of humanity's reproachful treatment of the Monster, "they shall share my wretchedness," causing conflict as the Monster endeavored to find his own place in human society, despite his difference from it (69).

Another insight that the novel shares in discussing the detrimental effect of science against nature is the worsening of human progress. When the Monster stated, "You have made me wretched beyond expression. You have left me no power to consider whether I am just to you, or not" (70). Since science is objectified, it goes without saying that its products are objectified as well. Thus, when the Monster was created, Frankenstein was not able to consider the responsibility that comes with its creation; thus, he never though of his creation as a rational, thinking individual, but only as a product of science, a creation that can be manipulated with.

This poses a vital discussion and domain of the conflict between science and nature. Frankenstein reveals and addresses issues of ethics and morality that inevitably results because science has crossed the boundary limiting its experiments and inventions to material and inanimate objects alone. Frankenstein, as a scientist, crossed this boundary, meddling with nature and playing 'god' by creating another human being, in the character of the Monster. Science, in effect, is more of a detriment than a constructive change in human society, since, despite its promotion of intellectual development, it puts in great peril moral development among humans. Furthermore, it curtails social progress, as more people, like Frankenstein, prefer the pursuit for knowledge rather than social interaction and relations.

The assertion stated above is substantiated by exemplars that highlight how science, as the dominant philosophy and ideology of 19th century society, led to downplaying of vital human skills and talents, such as the inherent talent of individuals to create and re-create their social realities through the arts and enrichment of human knowledge by pure reason alone. The precursors to the changes and effects of science discussed in the first part of the analysis are then the continuing conflict between science and nature. These are illustrated through the novel's depiction of conflict between the following elements: science vs. human reason and the arts.

The science-nature conflict is seen through the character of the Monster, who represents science, since he is a product of science, and nature, since he was created in the likeness of human beings. As a product of science, he expressed "hatred and vengeance to all mankind"; however, as a creature with the likeness of humanity (which is a part of nature), he also felt rage against science, embodied by Victor Frankenstein, his creator (101). The Monster illustrates the overlapping of conflict between science and nature, as well as humanity, an element of nature, against nature itself.

Pure human reason -- that is, human knowledge attained through mental contemplation and not experimentation and experience -- became the scrutiny of the novel, as Frankenstein was influenced with the thinking that science attained what humanity did not -- that is, progress through intellectual development. This is exemplified by Waldman's argument, saying, "[t]he modern masters promise very little... But these philosophers... have indeed performed miracles... They have acquired new and almost unlimited powers" (27). Debunking the belief that knowledge is inherent among humans, science destroyed the belief that knowledge can be found and obtained within the nature of humanity. It instead put in place the new belief that the human minds is a blank slate, where knowledge is acquired through experience and furthered by objectifying humanity's social realities.

Parallel with the discrediting of innate human knowledge, science has also scorned the expression of human thoughts and feelings by creating works of art. The arts contrast directly against the science because the arts breaks the credo of objectivity adhered to by the latter. The arts are considered non-scientific since it is subjective, with the inclusion of expression of…[continue]

Cite This Term Paper:

"Crying Of Lot 49" (2004, June 24) Retrieved December 9, 2016, from http://www.paperdue.com/essay/crying-of-lot-49-172211

"Crying Of Lot 49" 24 June 2004. Web.9 December. 2016. <http://www.paperdue.com/essay/crying-of-lot-49-172211>

"Crying Of Lot 49", 24 June 2004, Accessed.9 December. 2016, http://www.paperdue.com/essay/crying-of-lot-49-172211

Other Documents Pertaining To This Topic

  • Crying of Lot 49 Thomas

    The first comes with the name of the main character, Oedipa, a play on the famous Oedipus. Part of Oedipus's destiny is related to his capacity to solve several mysteries, which is also what Oedipa has to do. Some of the names the author uses are simple plays on the sound of the respective name. Such is the case with Pierce Inverarity, but also Genghis Cohen. Many of the

  • Thomas Pynchon s the Crying of

    This is best reflected by the main character: Oedipa finds herself in the middle of a plot where the ambiguity of the actions and of the characters (and this is also one of the reasons the writer uses the funny character names, to induce the idea that they may be unreal even in the action of the novel) make her wonder which clues can be believed and what part

  • Classical and Popular Music in The Crying

    CLASSICAL AND POPULAR MUSIC IN 'THE CRYING OF LOT 49' Thomas Pynchon is known for his complex storylines and weird characters. For this reason it is not easy to comment on the use of music in his novels as it is the very complexity of his plots that obscure the influence or meaning of classical and popular music in his books. Despite this, he is one of the most influential writers

  • Eye Opening Experience the Rime

    Apart from taking an authoritative role in the Symposium, many people consider her to be behind the doubts of her existence. She passes her wisdom to Socrates who in turn passes it to his many friends. She distinguishes the difference that existed between good and beautiful in the context of love. She emphasizes the significance of the object of love even in beauty and birth. Duchess of Malfi by John

  • Postmodernism Literature Both Thomas Pynchon s

    Starting with the names of the characters and continuing with many of the events in the novel, he is ironically picturing a consumer society that needs to rely on certainties in order to secure its present and avoid alienation, which is why the entire conspiracy theory is developed: to provide explanations. The manner in which the novel is written provides a surrealistic picture which alludes to realities of the 1960s

  • Thomas Pynchon Annotated Bibliography 3 Items

    Pynchon Bibliography Thomas Pynchon: Annotated Bibliography Kolodny, Annette and David James Peters. "Pynchon's The Crying of Lot 49: The Novel as Subversive Experience." Modern Fiction Studies 19.1 (Spring 1973): 79-87. Web. The authors of this article suggest that the heroine of the novel is undergoing a learning experience, and that the novel's sudden ending without revealing whether the Trystero conspiracy is real or imaginary is actually a way of demonstrating the heroine's personal

  • Truth and to Draw a Line Between

    truth and to draw a line between what is real and what is pseudo demands not only rationality but also the power to keep one's senses intact. Searching for the answers to the perplexing and intellectually challenging questions result in our increased knowledge of the world and its practices but also what augments is our disbelief regarding the meaning and the values that we hold dear. This essay discusses


Read Full Term Paper
Copyright 2016 . All Rights Reserved