The Outsider in Don Quixote and Frankenstein

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Regarding the seeds of creativity that produced her Frankenstein, Mary Shelley paraphrases Sancho Panza, explaining that “everything must have a beginning.” She and Percy Shelley had been reading Don Quixote, as well as German horror novels, during the “wet, ungenial summer” and “incessant rain” of their stay with Lord Byron at Villa Diodati in Geneva in 1816. In his introduction, Maurice Hindle notes the connection between the two fictional madmen: Both Don Quixote and Frankenstein start out with the noble intention of helping their fellow creatures, but their aspirations are doomed by their pursuit of a „single vision,. one that takes them further and further away from satisfying the moderate needs of the community, and nearer and nearer to a personally tragic denouement. (Frankenstein xxxviii) Society, too, must have had its beginning, but theorists from Hume to Marx to Darwin and writers such as Shelley and Dostoevsky may never solve the question of whom or what came first: the individual or the community? One thing seems clear: whether via sensational impressions, inductive reasoning, or common sense, the individual cannot long survive without meaningful inclusion within the larger group of humanity. From childhood, we recognize the profound hurt that comes from exclusion from the majority, and this alienation, in Marxian parlance, can lead to an antagonistic position toward society, as dramatized in both Frankenstein.s “monster” and Dostoevsky.s Underground Man. The monster proclaims in his agony that he is “malicious because I am miserable,” and he is miserable, no doubt, because he is not merely alone but shunned from society (147). Shelly.s creation is in part deri... ... middle of paper ... ...arles. “The Origin of Species.” From Modernism to Postmodernism: An Anthology. Expanded 2nd Edition. Ed. Lawrence Cahoone. Blackwell Publishing. 2003. Dostoevsky, Fyodor. “Notes From Underground.” The Norton Anthology of World Masterpieces: The Western Tradition 7th edition Vol. 2. Ed. Sarah Lawall. New York, NY. 1999. Hume, David. “A Treatise on Human Nature.” From Modernism to Postmodernism: An Anthology. Expanded 2nd Edition. Ed. Lawrence Cahoone. Blackwell Publishing. 2003. Marx, Karl. Manifesto of the Communist Party: “Bourgeois and Proletarians.” From Modernism to Postmodernism: An Anthology. Expanded 2nd Edition. Ed. Lawrence Cahoone. Blackwell Publishing. 2003. Shelley, Mary. Frankenstein. Edited with an Introduction and Notes by Maurice Hindle. Penguin Books. U.K., 2003. http://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Groucho_Marx

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