Walt Whitman: Poems
The Resposibilities of Creation
The idea of voluntary creation, of giving birth to something utterly original from some established foundation, instantly attracts unanswerable inquiries of morality and the nature of novelty and life. However, when invention is attempted on a massive scale, and entire social structures and ideologies are threatened by the newborn, the issue of responsibility takes precedence. In Mary W. Shelley's Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus and Walt Whitman's "Song of Myself", Whitman and Frankenstein create anomalies, 'monsters' of overwhelming magnitude (a brutishly realistic American identity, and a physical daemon, respectively), and face the consequences of the ensuing relationships. Eventually, from differing perspectives on similar God-like positions, these 'mad scientists' veer in opposite directions from their paternal obligations, one merging with his adored creation, the other reacting violently in revulsion and seething hate.
Both 'children' occur as experiments. Frankenstein, unlike morally-inclined Clerval, obsessively studies the most ambitious sciences, "the secrets of heaven and earth...the mysterious soul of man..." (Shelley, Ch 2) His aim, ironically, is to test...
Join Now to View Premium Content
GradeSaver provides access to 791 study guide PDFs and quizzes, 5590 literature essays, 1645 sample college application essays, 220 lesson plans, and ad-free surfing in this premium content, “Members Only” section of the site! Membership includes a 10% discount on all editing orders.
Already a member? Log in