Recently I was able to watch the new movie Joker by director Todd Phillips. After the movie, I was struck with the realization that the character Joker, also known as Arthur Fleck, possessed many similarities with the character of the monster from Mary Shelley’s novel Frankenstein. This piqued my interest due to the significant time gap between the two pieces. How could a character from a novel from 200 years ago possibly possess so many similarities with a character in a movie today? As I explored their similarities I found that the answer was found quite easily in the concept of the human condition. The character’s similarities can be sorted into three main groups: the overall qualities of the characters, their actions, and the effect that they have on the audience.
The main similarity in the characters of Arthur Fleck, who later comes to be Joker, and the monster is their shared need for human connection. Under this big similarity, many small connections can be made. One such connection is the otherness that causes them to be cast out of society. In the movie, Arthur Fleck is portrayed to have a myriad of mental health problems including schizophrenia, dissociative identity disorder, PTSD, and an unnamed condition that causes him to laugh uncontrollably especially when in a stressful situation. These illnesses that he possesses cause him to be isolated from society very similar to the way that the monster was isolated due to his appearance. In both of these cases, the thing that held them back from being a part of society was something out of their control. Both of these qualities of otherness they possessed were given to them by the person who made them. In Arthur’s case, it is his adoptive mother who allowed him to be physically and mentally abused by her boyfriends and in the case of the monster, he can only blame Frankenstein who created him and designed what he would look like. In both cases, this inability to receive human connection causes them to act out violently.
Due to the treatment, he receives from others Arthur Fleck is led to violent actions and ultimately the murder of many people to get what he wants, human connection. When compared to the story of Frankenstein’s monster one can see the definite similarities with how the characters deal with a lack of human connection. Both characters end up seeking revenge towards the person who made them. Arthur kills his mother in the hospital after he finds out about the abuse that she put him through and the monster kills everyone that Frankenstein holds dear. Another variation on seeking revenge from Arthur Fleck’s creator is how he seeks revenge against society, the society that pushed him around and cast him out for his otherness. The monster decided to kill people who were important to Frankenstein to hurt him such as his fiance Elizabeth in comparison Joker kills Murray Franklin, a host for a live televised show, because he hurt him and because he was very important to society. In both cases, these many murders could have been avoided if Joker and the monster were treated with love and were given access to human connection.
The effect of telling the story of someone who is led to morally wrong action is that it causes the audience to sympathize with someone they never thought they would. After watching Joker and hearing others talk about their experience with the movie many related the unsettling feeling that at times you wanted him to win even though you knew what he was doing was not morally right. This is also very similar to the experiences of the readers when it comes to the monster from Frankenstein. Both are characters who have experienced immense pain especially with the isolation they experienced and both begin with only the need for love. As humans, we wish to help those we see in pain so in both cases all I wanted to do was help these characters even though I knew they were technically “the bad guys”. By inspiring empathy in the hearts of the audience the creators cause them to experience life through another’s eyes but it can also cause people to act similarly to the characters. This fear is present in the fact that at many of the first big viewings of Joker security was increased due to the fear that someone would be inspired by the character to act out violently. While I don’t believe that anyone should follow in the footsteps of Joker and the monster I do feel it is important to experience these stories to see how an individual can be led to these kinds of actions.
Both of these pieces are immensely important in how they affect and will affect society. Their similarities show how the human condition is common throughout time and place. This idea of inspiring sympathy for bad characters will most likely continue to happen even in the next 200 years in all forms of media. No matter how much time passes telling the other side of a story will always be important. Through the characters, Arthur Fleck and the monster it is shown how even though these stories are in different mediums, times, and places the human condition is still the human condition no matter what.
10 thoughts on “Joker and The Monster: A Timeless Analysis”
I decided to take a look at your post based on the conversation we were having about it, and I am certainly glad I did. It really is interesting to draw comparisons between things like these, as it can tell you about what our society is really made of, what we like and do not like to see, and what we class as entertainment. Your connections are insightful, and I found myself surprised at how similar the two pieces are.
For improvement, I would just watch punctuation. There were some run on sentences and improper commas, which made me slip up at a few points. Other than that, however, I was thoroughly captivated by your brilliance.
I really enjoyed the conversation that we had about the movie and it was definitely one of my favourite memories with you this year. As for improvement on punctuation, I have been trying to do extra NoRedInks in order to improve. Thank you so much for taking the time to read and comment on my post. I’m really glad you enjoyed it.
Your piece has truly rendered me speechless. I wholeheartedly agree with your title, a piece of literature written over 200 years ago applies to the modern world is not something you see everyday. Another thing I also enjoyed the fluidity and cohesiveness of your piece, it all flowed as a calm river through my mind and nothing felt as though it was out of place. The amount of detail that you have put into describing the Joker’s conditions and motivations makes the reader feel as though they can see everything the Joker is doing. The parallels that you draw between the Joker and Frankenstein’s Creature about the ‘qualities of otherness’, the lack of love and human connection as well as the sympathy they provoke from audiences even though they are not on the most morally right path does a fantastic job in reinforcing the timelessness of the ideas presented in Frankenstein.
In regard to improvements, your piece come pretty close to perfection in my books. I am unable to find anything to improve upon in your piece and con’t wait to read more from you!
Many hugs and much love from an impatient but willing to wait,
Thank you very much for reading my piece and for leaving such a well-written comment on my piece. I’m glad that you enjoyed it as I really enjoyed writing it. I’m glad that you were able to see what I was trying to convey.
This is an incredible analysis of both the Joker and Frankenstein. As I read, you have showed me how relatable the monster can be in regards to individuals in both movies and in real life. Your writing structure is impeccable and your diction flows beautifully with your style of writing. After reading this piece, I can not wait to go see Joker! The analysis of the character is deep and thoughtful as you used different key elements to relate to the monster.
In terms of constructive criticism, I can only find one small detail within this incredible piece. Within your writing, the only things I would love to see is a connection with the reader. This connection could take place as a matter that relates a concept between the reader and the characters. This way, the reader would be able to have a deeper connection with the characters and you as the writer. You have done an amazing job with this piece! I can not wait to read more from you!
Lots of love,
Thank you very much for your comment on this post. I’m glad that you enjoyed it and I’m glad that you are excited to see Joker as it is now definitely one of my favourite movies.
I really appreciate the criticism and I love your idea to connect more with the reader. Thank you once again for the comment.
Sorry for the late comment, but this post was an extremely well-written piece that was a joy to read. From somebody who hasn’t seen Joker yet, you did an excellent job explaining just enough of the plot without spilling too much of the plot (I think) while still managing to use enough to effectively enhance the explanation of the connections. This was actually interesting to read, as it was a splash of fresh air bringing in a different piece and comparing Frankenstein instead of just analyzing the novel.
The one suggestion I have is to give your post a read through at least once to catch any mistakes. For example “Due to the treatment, he receives from others Arthur Fleck…”, there’s a comma that doesn’t belong. Just a simple check should give your writing that small improvement it doesn’t need, but would be nice to see.
Sorry for the late response. Thanks for reading this piece and commenting on it. I definitely considered spoilers when I was writing this and I’m glad that it didn’t spoil too much for you. Thank you very much for the suggestion to read over it once more I often find that I get excited to post and forget to do an extra read through. However, I will definitely try to read through my pieces a couple more times in order to catch errors.
Thanks again for the response.
Wow! You did it, girl! I was so intrigued by the title of your piece, as it is a new and refreshing idea. Although I haven’t watched the Joker movie yet, I thought your brief explanation of his character was sufficient for my understanding of the piece, so thank you for making it accessible to readers who are not fully familiar with the text! I would also like to commend you on the overall clarity of your structure. I found it very straightforward to follow, while understanding the majority of your arguments. I fully agree and note your assertion of the effectiveness the writers behind these two great pieces have allowed us to sympathize with otherwise adversaries against the good of the world. These stories are important as they remind society that sometimes, we need to find understanding in new things. We cannot rely on our prejudgements to create an entire accurate assumption for their whole being. Well done!
As for improvements, I would suggest the clarity of one idea within this piece: you stated, “Due to the treatment, he receives from others Arthur Fleck is led to violent actions and ultimately the murder of many people to get what he wants, human connection.” To me, this suggested that murders is what brings these characters closer to their need of human connection. However, throughout the paragraph, it is explained that the lack of human connection leads them to murder, as the last sentence of the paragraph states, ” In both cases, these many murders could have been avoided if Joker and the monster were treated with love and were given access to human connection.” This results in a bit of a convoluted argument for the second paragraph, even though I know what you are trying to get across.
Thank you for this refreshing and insightful piece! I can’t wait to continue to witness your growth within this class! Love you lots, Abby <3
Thank you so much for reading my piece! I’m super glad you enjoyed it and decided to comment. After reading this piece again I completely agree that there needs to be some clarity in the section you mentioned and I will be sure to try to introduce clarity into all of my future pieces.
Thank you again for reading my piece Mia