a perfect marriage: a frankenstein response

*Strap in folks, this is a weird one. Frankenstein is probably my favourite book of all time, so I pulled out all I had to make my final in-class farewell to it memorable. This post has a formal structure with an informal tone, contains creative writing, persuasive writing, analysis, and a little bit of commentary thrown in for flavor. It’s essentially a summary of the most impactful lesson that this novel taught me, done in the most extra manner possible. Enjoy! 

Science and English are fighting. The air in their home is tense, and neither one is about to break the silence. Science is convinced that he’s made a terrible mistake: English is too emotional, too irrational, too dramatic. He would have been better off with Math and her certainty, with a set formula and a clear answer every time. Across the house, spread theatrically over a couch, English is weeping for her lost freedom. Oh, if only she had let Drama sweep her into a fairy tale…but no. Instead, she was here, mourning for her freedom, married to a man who was absolute-zero cold and entirely devoid of all sense of whimsy.

Unfortunately, this quarrel is often where we find this pair from our student’s perspective. I don’t think there is a single science kid in existence who doesn’t wish that English was a little more formulaic (and subsequently that their English grade would quit tanking their average), and hardcore English kids wear their disdain for science – and outright hatred for math – on their sleeves. Despite this prevailing belief, I know that English and science are far from mortal enemies. Frankenstein proves that this pair are perfect for each other, and should never be pulled apart. Alone, each concept is incomplete at best and absolutely monstrous at worst.

Anyone who has ever been subjected to the Bio 20 research project knows precisely why pure science is unacceptable; there is only so much scientific data about the size of a fox’s liver you can read before you are begging for some poetry. Beyond simply boredom, however, Frankenstein demonstrates why science needs English through the character of Victor and his creation of his monster. In his pursuit of ultimate knowledge, the ultimate scientific discovery, Victor is soulless. His fixation on his desperation to know causes him to forget his humanity and his respect for beauty, and it is this lapse that seals his horrible fate. Had Victor remembered to appreciate beauty, perhaps he would have succeeded in making the monster appear as Victor wanted him to, and thus would have been a better creator to him. Had he remembered that there is more to life than the objective, perhaps he would have held himself back from the atrocities he committed in the process of creation. Science without the romanticism and humanity of English does spawn astounding discovery, but at what cost? Victor robbed graves and slaughterhouses to fuel the greatest scientific discovery of all time. The Nazis stole Jewish children and returned with brand new advances in genetics. At its best, science is an attempt to make sense of the vast universe we have found ourselves in. In cases like Victor’s, cases that forget what English endeavors to teach, science devolves into a destructive force. Regardless of how sound the science is, English is the sole factor that determines if science will hand you a defibrillator or a death ray.

If you ask Oscar Wilde, English without Science is a perfectly reasonable request, and one that should be fulfilled as often as possible. However, just like long winded papers on squirrel hormones, pure whimsical English is something we have all experienced, and it is far from ideal. Every young-adult candy-coated meaning-devoid romance story, with all their wishful impossibilities, Prince Charmings, and Mary-Sues, are suffering from a science deficiency, and it is this deficiency that makes them so unbearable. When fiction isn’t tethered to reality (whether in setting, in characterization, or in plot), it is nearly impossible to stomach, and Frankenstein proves it. Although the evidence is not as clean, the need for the values of science and reality in literature is exemplified by Elizabeth. If your immediate reaction to Elizabeth was to roll your eyes and groan, you have proved my point. As the audience, we see Elizabeth as insignificant and forgettable precisely because she is lacking in reality and substance. Throughout the novel, we are told that Elizabeth is beautiful, that she is kind, and loving, and far more human than the title character. Based on these values, we as readers should come to appreciate her, but we don’t. She is hard to relate to because her character is not realistic, so we do not feel for her as we do for Victor and the monster. She is beautiful and not much else, so she lacks the substance to make us notice her as readers. Her quotes fall immediately from memory after they are read, because they have no truth to help them stick there. Elizabeth demonstrates English at its worst; when you create something devoid of truth, all of its beauty and its optimism cannot fill the gaping chasm left behind by science’s absence.

English and science, if allowed to run unrestrained, would cause the civilized world to implode. Thankfully, the two perfectly balance each other out, and create something truly valuable. For instance, all good science, all science that changes lives for the better and solves the world’s troubles, has respect for the beautiful and the human. If Victor had remembered his humanity, I firmly believe that the monster would have grown into the good man we all knew he could have been. Outside of fiction, even cancer research, in all of its laboratory starkness, is driven by the wish to help others, and I think that that is a notion that any romantic would be proud of. On the other side of the coin, all good art uses science and reality to ground itself. What makes literary characters like Victor and the monster so easy to feel for is the kernel of truth that they each contain, and what makes the cautionary nature of Frankenstein so effective is how real of a possibility its events are. While the novel is a romantic piece, I doubt it would have achieved the same fame without the reality of galvanism to add impact to its speculation.  This novel is the perfect union of science and literature; it reminds the reader of why science should not usurp all else, but it grounds its descriptions of lovely mountains and human emotion with science’s truth.

Frankenstein is Science and English’s wedding vows. Science tells his wife that she, through writing, makes life seem like “a warm sun and a garden of roses.” (69) English, in turn, tells her husband that “none but those who have experienced them can conceive of the enticements of science…there is continual food for discovery.” (50) The text sings the praises of both English and Science, and reminds them both of the beauty they create together. I truly hope they remember these vows in the midst of their quarrel. If they don’t, then science geeks, bookworms, and weird hybrids like myself will be forced to set aside our differences to mourn our collective loss.



Print Friendly, PDF & Email

6 thoughts on “a perfect marriage: a frankenstein response

  1. Dearest Maria,

    You already got a live message reaction to this piece, so now it is time to do a formal one! One of my favourite things about you is how versatile you are; this piece clearly shows that with its well-concocted mix of everything I did expect from you and stuff I didn’t. You are so capable as both a writer and as a person that it is hard to not to believe every word you say as the truth — even though I can’t imagine why anyone would ever try. Your ability to connect so many things is beyond my vocabulary and I felt myself flow so easily from one part to the next. This piece is such a lovely testimony to importance of logic and beauty in the world – this piece personified is you!

    One of my favourite things to do as a writer is to use small portions of the text I am using in my emulation, but I have never done so with a full novel and I can see how much I am missing out. The absolute beauty of the last paragraph is too much for me to even begin to grasp. I absolutely love how you used this baseline of marriage to bring us from one point to another — the last point being so meaningful to a fellow hybrid (one whose direction only changed after learning the true beauty of English and embracing it rather than accepting it as something I need to do). Frankenstein is truly the hybrid piece that exemplifies the importance of English and Science existing together rather than as opposing forces — thank you for proving that to me (even though I accept most of what you say into my life).

    I wish this piece had actual flaws that I could criticize so that this would be easier — but that would be an injustice to the world. Instead, I offer a suggestion of doing parallel thing with the last paragraph and the first by finding quotations that exemplify the “fight” between the two; I think that would just make me feel more satisfied than anything else cause I love a full circle effect (even though you already did that with the whole marriage thing).

    Thank you for showing the value of both english and science, and even more crucially the value of the two of them together because society more often than not shows a bias for one over the other. I am proud to find some semblance of joy in both Oscar Wilde and chemical equations — and I am proud you can too (although maybe not those specific examples).


    1. Nimrat,

      When I was writing this blog, I was absolutely terrified to post it. Last year, my greatest failures were in creative writing, so I was more than a little apprehensive to post a blog with so many creative elements in it. I can’t tell you how much your words of praise mean to me, particularly on this post. I’m glad that my odd hodgepodge was working for you, and that I came across as convincing. This issue is the hill I will die on, so the more persuasive I am, the better. That being said, I would HIGHLY advise against listening to me…I am a grade A disaster and I don’t want you to adopt any of my chaos. 🙂

      Looking back at the post, I do wish that I had thought of that quote thing for the intro, and I think it would have made the full circle effect even stronger. I hope I don’t miss cool opportunities like that going forward – but I’ll definitely be checking for them wherever I can.

      Thank you again for reading (and for the live text response) !

  2. Maria,
    HOLY MOLY THIS WAS GOOD! I have a decent reading schedule, and the books I love the most are books that teach you things, or critically analyze a subject or topic. Reading this was like reading those types of books with the same quality that comes from a professionally published piece. I especially loved the way you started it out with an anecdote, as that was a very creative approach to this type of analysis that I will definitely store in my brain for future use if it comes across. Your passion for this book was evident throughout, as none of this seems forced and it’s casual enough to show rant like qualities (that worked in this case), but still formal enough to get your point across.
    Now for the much harder thing to write a comment with on your pieces, the constructive criticism. Like Nimrat said, this was pretty hard to see any major flaws in your piece, and the advice she gave is advice I would also give. However, to add to that, I found that some examples used seemed a little “cherry-picked” to get your point across. I get it, it’s a tactic used to persuade is to mention evidence that strongly represents your point, however, “…even cancer research, in all of its laboratory starkness, is driven by the wish to help others…” is kinda an example that one could say “well that’s true, but that’s because it’s medical science so of course it’s done to help others.” To improve this point (in my opinion), try to mention a broader point, or another point, that has the purpose of including sciences other than ones specifically made to help people.
    That being said, I also get that this is a high school blog post, not some groundbreaking thesis on a subject aimed to change the minds of those who disagree. Overall, an excellent job, and I would read it again (which I did do, twice.) Thank you for giving us such an enjoyable read!

    1. Jimmy,

      Thank you so much for taking to time to read my blog!! I always enjoy your pieces and your perspective, so having you in the comments of my writing always makes me smile. I really appreciate your words on my formal/informal tonal balance, as that is something I personally find to be VERY important in my writing, and I often agonize over it to get it just right. I’m glad it got across how I wanted. I totally see what you are saying about the examples, and I do think that challenging my thinking to find even better real world examples would have strengthened my argument. This post is, at its core, a persuasive piece, so I will take any advice on how to make it more convincing.

      Thank you again for your comment, and I’m glad you found it to be an enjoyable read! If I can hold your attention for more than one read-through, I know I’m doing something right. 🙂


  3. MARIA!

    That was my burst of excitement. Before I say anything else, I want to commend you on this piece, and all your pieces, really. You are truly an artist with your words and such a master at your craft. Your style and voice is incredibly prevalent throughout the length of this piece, yet was so enticing! Your passion about this subject has always interested me, as you call yourself a “hybrid”. I find your insights and ideas expressed with such innovation and thoughtfulness. I also love how consistent and clear you remain through this response, as it flowed so perfectly. Honestly, I was not expecting the last paragraph to be so clever and well thought out. I really had to stop and take a breath because of how brilliant I thought this was. This response was not merely your thoughts on the novel, it was an amalgamation of opinions and views in conjunction with Frankenstein – which I thought was perfect.

    I am really picking at my brain right now, trying to come up with a suggestion or some sort of constructive criticism. I actually can’t. I have read the comments above my own, giving you feedback on things I would have never thought of. Yeah, I really have nothing, oops!

    I truly admire your skill and your work to such a great extent. I really have so much to learn from you and I am so grateful to be your peer and friend.

    Love you lots,
    mia <3

    1. Mia Mendoza,

      First of all, I’m sorry for being a mess and not replying sooner. I’ve reread your comment so many times over and I still don’t know how to properly express how much your words mean to me. Thank you so much. This piece had so much of me in it, so I am glad that my end product lived up the lofty expectations I set for it. Frankenstein was a game-changer for me, so I am glad to have paid it an appropriate tribute. I’ve always admired you as a writer, as a friend, and as an all-around delightful human being, so hearing this from you makes my little garden gnome heart grow three sizes.

      Love you tons,

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *