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The books Frankenstein

The books Frankenstein (Mary Shelley) and Surfacing (Margaret Atwood) are alike in many ways, particularly in the sense that both books’ major characters somehow feel alienated in the society. Frankenstein is a life story of a brilliant scientist who has always been fascinated by the secret of life. He has mastered all that has to be known regarding modern science. With his genius, he was able to uncover the secret of life, and eventually brought a hideous and large monster to life. The monster hated Victor for creating him, and so proceeded with killing Victor’s loved ones.

In all these killings, Victor never admitted to anyone the monstrous thing he has brought to life. The young scientist, who grew up with so much fascination for science, is now filled with remorse for the fruits of his arrogant endeavour to create life. He has achieved god-like status with the power to create life. However, after all the killings, Victor vowed to revenge himself on this monster. He went on to a wild chase with his creation heading to the North Pole. Losing all his strength in the cold, Victor died, after detailing his “adventures” to an adventurer he met along the way.

In his thirst for more knowledge, Victor Frankenstein has withdrawn himself from the society. His ambitions and secrecy alienates himself from the rest of the people. In a way, Margaret Atwood’s unnamed narrator in Surfacing also feels the same way. Though not a mad scientist, she can nevertheless be considered mad. Her madness arose from the anger she feels towards the general society. Surfacing specifically deals with the alienation a woman feels brought about by the norms imposed by the society regarding women, i. e. sex, education, pregnancy. The narrator condemned these ideals, and completely withdrawn herself from the society.

The narrator underwent some mysterious psychological transformation throughout the book. She had a difficult time coping with all the pressures of the society, particularly the roles that a woman like her is expected to play. Her response to the society is to become an animal living secluded in the wilderness, away from the rest of the people. She stops using language. In fact, she can neither comprehend nor use the language. While alone in the wilderness, she also entertained the thought of even raising a child which can neither speak nor understand any forms of language.

However, unlike Frankenstein, the major character in Surfacing embraced society again. She resolved to conquer all those anxieties brought about by society. Unlike Frankenstein, Margaret Atwood regains the character’s humanity by bringing her back to the society. The book proves that withdrawing oneself from the society won’t help solve any problems. It is important to understand the society in order to better respond to its ills, and in order to do this, one must be stronger than the pressures around. The two books can be said to be quite reverse.

Frankenstein was a “normal” person who can properly interact with the society. It was not after he created a monster did he alienate himself. He died with minimal social interaction. Surfacing on the other hand, started with a character who already suffers the alienation from the society. In the end however, she has decided to confront the pressures of the society instead of running away from or ignoring them. Though the stories are headed in totally opposite directions, they both describe how alienation can come forth to an individual or how someone can overcome it.

People who withdraw themselves from the society might sometimes seem interesting but in the long run, they actually have lived an empty life. Both books place so much emphasis on the need for power. Frankenstein was able to eventually create a monster as this obviously shows some form of power. The narrator in Surfacing also values power. She pretended to be powerless in the false belief that society’s pressure will stop bothering her. On the contrary however, it is only when she acted to be powerful that she rose above those social pressures.

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