The Reversal of Power: A Marxist Reading of Frankenstein College

As Victor Frankenstein of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein delves deeper into his search for the causes of life, he becomes consumed by his quest for the answer to his question as he toils over his creation – a decrepit but mortal form compiled of various body parts. He pushes himself to the edge of his capacity for labor, and in the process isolates himself from his family, his human needs, as well as the rest of mankind. When his project is complete, however, Frankenstein finds himself to be immediately repulsed by his finalized work and distances himself, leaving the creature to go off into the world and fend for itself without any knowledge of human society. Faced with this new set of circumstances the creature soon becomes completely separate from Frankenstein, a massive power entirely independent of its creator. This shift in control from the laborer to the product of the labor reflects many of Karl Marx’s ideas expressed in his “Economic and Philosophic Manuscripts” as well as in “The Communist Manifesto.” It is useful to approach Frankenstein through a lens crafted by Marx’s ideas as such an approach reveals the alienation that Victor Frankenstein feels both from others while in the midst of his work, the hostility he feels...

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