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“I HAD DESIRED IT WITH AN ARDOR THAT FAR EXCEEDED MODERATION; BUT NOW THAT I HAD FINISHED, THE BEAUTY OF THE DREAM VANISHED, AND BREATHLESS HORROR AND DISGUST FILLED MY HEART.”
This statement by Mary Shelley, from the story Frankenstein, reflects the passions of men to pursue dreams, despite the often imminent consequences of their actions. In Thomas More’s Utopia, the reader experiences a similar tension for an uncertain place called Utopia. This place is described by a visitor to this land, named Raphael, as having a perfect society. How will Frankenstein fit in Utopia? Lets find out from Sir Thomas More, as both he and I can now see Frankenstein’s boat approaching, in return from a six month stay on the island of Utopia. We have not been in contact with Frankenstein since his departure in June. As far as we know, all is well, considering the saying ‘no news is good news.’
More:While we have a few minutes, let me fill you in on some details about the island and its inhabitants, as described by Raphael’s five year visit. I would also like to reveal to you Frankenstein’s plight that led him to flee to such a place as Utopia. I am certain that Frankenstein’s perspective of Utopia will not be as representative as Raphael’s, but the feedback will undoubtedly be quite interesting.
Many years ago, I had the opportunity to interview Raphael immediately after his return from Utopia. Over the span of a lunch sitting, Raphael described this island in vivid detail. Some of these descriptions I have long since forgotten due to a fire that engulfed my office, incinerating all my notes from this visit with Raphael. Still, I am quite aware of the wondrous details provided to me by Raphael’s account, including the intricacies of such a well organized and fascinating political system, and the overall quality of life, where nobody owns anything, but everyone is rich. I can never forget Raphael’s statement, “for what greater wealth can there be than cheerfulness, peace of mind, and freedom from anxiety?” We shall soon see if this statement holds water.
On that note, let me begin with the politics of Utopia and then I will brief all the other interesting facets that make this island so unique. I would also like to inform you of my predictions of the effects this island should have on Mr.
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McWhirter: Have you been in contact with Raphael recently?
More: To my surprise and dismay, Raphael has not been seen since he took an endeavor on Utopia. I do not know the details of this undertaking but my sources tell me Raphael may still be on the island.
McWhirter: Do tell me about this extraordinary place Utopia. I am sure Frankenstein, or his interpreter, can inform us as to Raphael’s whereabouts.
More: Very well. Built around a crescent-shaped island, Utopia has the advantage of a natural harbor enabling its inhabitants to fend itself from enemies, as the enemy must deal with a fortress of obstacles surrounding the harbor. With mines located at designated points throughout the harbor, only the island’s mariners are able to steer clear of the impending danger that awaits outside threats. The inhabitants, known as Utopians, are highly militant and always ready for battle.
Most children are brought up to do the same work as their parents. All must work a six-hour day. Besides farming, which is everyone’s job, each person is taught a special trade of his own, depending on that person’s natural gifts. Concerning Frankenstein, I must say he has the gift of strength, so I am certain he would be involved in some sort of heavy labor.
This six-hour work day is sufficient to produce plenty of everything that’s needed for a comfortable life. Goods are dispersed equally and no one may obtain private property, therefore, money is unnecessary. There is no need for hoarding as no shortages of anything exist. Also, the Utopian is content with a single piece of clothing every two years, as vanity is unknown to these inhabitants. Who is there to impress? Everyone has everything already, for the basic essentials of food, clothing and shelter have been provided. This also eliminates greed. Now allow me to shed some light on Frankenstein’s situation.
Frankenstein’s unpopularity within the social realm led him to years of isolation, secluded amongst the urban sprawl. Then one day, an adventurous young gentleman, named Attila, befriended Frankenstein on a chance encounter while delivering the morning newspapers. Each morning while working the route nearby Frankenstein’s quarters, Attila would notice an unusually large frame of a man silhouetted behind the living room curtains. With the curiosity of a kitten and the audacity of a lion, Attila approached Frankenstein’s room and knocked on the door. To make a long story short, Attila and Frankenstein became best of friends.
Attila later moved to the island of Utopia to be with his cousins. The island granted Attila’s stay based on his blood ties to Utopia. Citizenship grants are difficult, if not impossible, to obtain if one does not have kin living on Utopia. With a convincing, and rather benevolent account of Frankenstein’s demise, Attila enticed the Utopian Stywards (town officials) to grant Frankenstein a temporary visitation. I am now extremely curious to the level of altruism within this Utopian community.
As a visitor to this island, Frankenstein will always be considered an outsider, unable to obtain the privileges provided to the locals. I am also curious if the Utopians were hospitable to Frankenstein, considering his ominous countenance. Raphael mentioned to me that Utopians are warm people with a wonderful sense of humor. Their humorous nature promotes ridicule in a loving manner that aims not to hurt those who are deformed or mentally deficient, but actually to convey a sense of belonging to the individual. Perhaps Frankenstein will be given this kind of treatment. I can see Frankenstein being escorted off the vessel now. I believe that individual next to him is Attila. We will have to wait a couple more minutes while they are checked through customs.
As you know, Frankenstein was a work of inconceivable rigor and arduous labor, as his creator, a gentleman named Victor, would tell us. My brief encounters with the late and lovely Mrs. Mary Shelley, a confidant of Victor, have given me great incite to the horror of such a masterpiece. I am still perplexed by the chaos that ensued and the daunting effects cast upon Victor from the moment his creation sprang to life. Why should Victor have felt that way? Frankenstein was always quite harmless, though quite hideous looking. If Victor could have only had the courage to match his ingenuity, how wonderful a time he would have enjoyed with his creation. I assure you Attila has been blessed with this friendship.
McWhirter: How long have Attila and Frankenstein been friends?
More: At least forty years.
As Sir Thomas More was answering this question, I began to feel a bit apprehensive. Of what, I am uncertain. I did not know when Frankenstein was created by Victor but I was certain it was many decades ago. I did not know when Raphael was born, but for some reason I was afraid to inquire. I could sense Sir Thomas More’s eager anticipation for the return of Frankenstein. Certainly there were many questions to be answered regarding this six month journey to Utopia. But what was More’s relationship with Frankenstein? Why did I feel such angst?
From the near distance, I could see Frankenstein, Attila and another gentleman approaching the dock’s exit gate. As they were walking up the ramp towards me, I turned to look where Sir Thomas More was standing. Strangely, More was nowhere to be found. Suddenly, I felt myself gasping for air as if the wind was knocked out of me. I was in a bit of a predicament, not knowing the whereabouts of Sir Thomas, nor having even the least bit of acquaintance with Frankenstein and his friends.
I remembered the story of the adventurous Attila and it immediately dawned on me that I had nothing to lose in taking the initiative. I approached the eight-foot- tall Frankenstein, who appeared much less appalling than I had anticipated. I announced myself as a friend of Sir Thomas More. The gentleman replied with a delightful and enthusiastic “so pleased to meet you.” He stated his name; Raphael.
Raphael: You must be the friend of Sir Thomas More that Attila was telling me about. I would like to introduce you to Attila.
McWhirter: Pleased to meet you. Sir Thomas More was here just a minute ago and now I do not know where he went. I know he has been eagerly anticipating Frankenstein’s return. I just can’t believe he disappeared.
Raphael: Maybe I can explain. You see, that man you were speaking to was not Sir Thomas More. Sir Thomas More died in the mid 1500’s. He has been dead for over 300 years. That man you were speaking to was Victor’s second inanimate creation, named Thomas, after the late Sir Thomas More.
Raphael went on to explain to me that Victor took many years to recover from the psychological torment caused by his abandoned creation--the monster Frankenstein. With his mental facilities intact, Victor went on to refine his work of bestowing animation. With years of intensive research and a passionate desire to atone for a so called failure, Victor managed to engineer a polished version of Frankenstein, named after the author of Victor’s favorite book tilted Utopia. Just before he died, Victor gave his creation Thomas the capacity to detail the entire Utopian society, as described in the book. Victor passed away one year after this second, and only other inanimate creation.
As for Frankenstein’s Utopian reception, Attila explained to me that all was exceptional. Frankenstein was given royal hospitality and would be granted permanent stay since citizenship laws are enforced on human citizens only. Raphael insisted that the inanimate Sir Thomas More was jealous of Raphael due to his close friendship with the late Sir Thomas More. Raphael insisted to me that Thomas would return to be with his friend Attila and Frankenstein, prior to Frankenstein’s return to Utopia.
Frankenstein and Thomas were inanimate buddies and Thomas’ greatest desire was to visit Utopia. He was programmed with the knowledge of every facet of this phenomenal society. To be united with Frankenstein and live happily ever after on the most happiest of places was the chief goal for Thomas. Although I never again heard from either of these characters, I am continually haunted by one extremely puzzling fact. Raphael was a friend of the late Sir Thomas More.
More, Thomas. Utopia. London: Penguin Group, 1965.
Shelley, Mary. “Frankenstein.” The Presence of Others. Ed. Andrea Lundsford and John Ruszkiewicz. Boston: Bedford/St Martin’s, 2000. 231-235.