Biological Otherness in “Frankenstein” and “Heart of Darkness”

The concept of the Other is understood through its division from the Self. Specifically, Otherness represents those who run counter to predominant societal ideologies; thus, the Other, denounced as a threat to norms, is shunned from humanity, if not actively hunted. In Mary Shelley’s “Frankenstein,” the creature, loathed by his creator and rejected by society, epitomizes Otherness. Such a grotesque appearance, along with the fact that he serves as the antithesis to natural reproduction, isolates the monster, resulting in his vengeful behaviour and leading to the seeming justification of Victor’s attempts to destroy him. Likewise, in Joseph Conrad’s “Heart of Darkness,” Otherness—evidently akin to abnormality—is realized in the attitudes of the European imperialists towards African natives. Conrad portrays the jungle as a primitive wilderness and its inhabitants as savage and dangerous, which facilitates communal support for the colonization of Africa by effectively dissociating the civilized Europeans, or Self, from their Other counterparts (4). Such an imposed racial divide—or the repression of species in “Frankenstein”—exemplifies the fundamental exploitation of the Other by the Self.

The monster in “Frankenstein,” upon the...

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