About This Site

 

"She was an elfin Pinnace; lustily

I dipped my oars into the silent lake;

And, as I rose upon the stroke, my boat

Went heaving through the Water like a swan:

When, from behind that craggy steep, till then

The horizon's bound, a huge peak, black and huge,

As if with voluntary power instinct,

Upreared its head. - I struck, and struck again,

And, growing still in stature, the grim Shape

Towered up between me and the stars, and still,

For so it seemed, with purpose of its own

And measured motion, like a living Thing

Strode after me.

 

-William Wordsworth, The Prelude (1850), Bk 1, II. 373-85 

 

Chapter I, Volume I

Chapter 5, Volume I

Works Cited

 

Victor Frankenstein may or may not be a “nancy boy,” but the term garners attention when used as the title of a web project in the vast miasma of the internet. Furthermore, there is some basis on which to premise that the title character of Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley’s landmark gothic-horror fiction novel may indeed be a “nancy boy,” which the Oxford English Dictionary defines as “an effeminate man or boy; a male homosexual.” Though this is explored in the character analysis on the website, written for Henry Clerval, Frankenstein’s cherished male friend, there are a few ways in which “queering” the reading of the novel help to get at the themes upon which Shelley was trying to comment. The term “nancy boy” can also mean a male who exhibits extreme sensitivity in an emotional sense, according to the Urban Dictionary, which definitely applies to Victor’s temperament. According to Vince Brewton of the University of North Alabama, "Queering" can be enacted on behalf of all non-normative sexualities and identities as well, all that is considered by the dominant paradigms of culture to be alien, strange, unfamiliar, transgressive, odd—in short, queer.

                Frankenstein can be read as a novel about alienation. In a sense, the creature is the ultimate alien. His very existence, the substance of his composition is at the same time alien, strange, unfamiliar (uncanny), transgressive, and odd—queer. The creature, in several adaptations that followed the novel, such as the play The Man and the Monster by Henry Milner, is made into a wordless, underrepresented “monster.” This mistreatment of a character who, in Shelley’s novel, reads Paradise Lost, forms eloquent arguments, has learned language with prodigal adeptness and eventually argues for his inclusion into some sort of society, at first successfully, is documented in the section of the website called “The Man and the Monster.”

                The creature’s idea of inclusion is his one hope at relief from misery and it takes the form of a female “creature.” He is willing to kill for inclusion, so bitter has his alienation made him. It is ironic that Frankenstein and his creature have become a popular mythology. For if society is indeed internet-bound  then the website dedicated to the novel is a bizarre way of resolving the loneliness of the monster. As part of popular culture, the interest in the creature and his story, the inspired websites and the wealth of representation in new media in a sense includes the creature –everyone recognizes his “face” (or the portrayal played by Boris Karloff, which was inspired by a Goya etching from Los Caprichos—both images included on the website).  As a way of showing the omnipresence of the Frankenstein mythology, there is a page of links which pertain to the story and its various representations included in the website.

                A more contemporary Frankenstein-inspired “adaptation” is the 2002 film “May,” starring Angela Bettis. The film shows how an alienated girl, of human parts, too socially awkward to cultivate successful, healthy relationships with her acquaintances, makes her own friend. The story is more psychological thriller than science fiction, as her creation never “lives,” but the effect is the same. The film can be viewed as a queering of the Frankenstein story, as the hero is, in this version, a female and as she embodies both Victor and his creature in that she creates a “creature” of her own for selfish reasons, out of various body parts. Except, unlike Victor, she uses the parts of those who have wronged her. She even includes her own lazy eye. However, like Frankenstein’s creature, she seeks an equal to ease her alienation. It is a commentary on the post-modern Frankenstein creature. In an increasingly metropolitan, corporate advertisement world, people are feeling more alienated than ever, and technology seems to be increasing the problems of socializing human beings.

                Part of the gothic genre of literature is to expose the anxieties of the body by showing the body transformed, disturbed, outraged, in pieces, or otherwise deformed. Frankenstein’s creature, with his jaundiced eyes, his monstrous assemblage of corpse limbs is a provocative, disturbing image. Part of the success of the novel is the concrete image of the creature: the imagination is horrified at the thought of a walking mass of purple, green, glossy dead flesh stitched together to enormous proportions. The colors of the web design are shades of gray, black, and blue. These are the colors of shadows, bruised flesh, and darkness. Blue is the predominant color and is also the color of water, which is the drowning element. Blue is recognized as the color for the male in popular binary culture and Frankenstein as a novel is focused almost entirely around a few male characters and their relationships—it is even narrated entirely in a male voice (save the few letters from Elizabeth Valenza interspersed throughout). Really, the dynamics between Robert Walton and Victor Frankenstein, Victor and his male creature, and of course Victor and Henry Clerval are the framework for the novel.

                The creative project, entitled “Dogfather Molestor,” a performance poem written around the theme of “the anxiety of technology,” is an original piece that has been cheaply recorded on a digital camera and uploaded into the site. The piece was inspired after meditating on the subject matter in the science fiction film “Demon Seed,” as well as the text Images of the Body by Philippe Comar, a visual artist who teaches in the Department of Morphology at the École National Supérieure des Beaux-Arts in Paris, France. A particular chapter in his book, entitled “The Body in Motion,” documents the rise of the automaton and the documentation of the progress of capturing the movement of the human body. Comar quotes Julien de la Mettrie in his work L’homme-Machine (Man as Machine), 1747: “The human being is only an animal, or an assembly of springs all wound up by one another…Human beings, eager though they may be to elevate themselves are really no better than animals or machines crawling vertically” (100). The poem attempts to explore the availability of recorded media, acting as a sort of camera view into various private or otherwise uninteresting-yet-interesting scenarios. The piece opens with an evocation to the “master tinker,” the speaker begging to be immortalized in recorded media, then committing suicide into nothingness, into the great space called the internet. It is obsessed with the image of people doing whatever it is they do, recording that, and uploading it to be available for other people to watch: YouTube, where it is available.

                The piece derives from actuality, but makes it more sensational with the use of rhythm and fresh language, the tone reflecting the need for human beings to feel excited about their media, yet distanced so they are not directly affected. There are films available, like the documentary The Bridge, which show real-time suicides and make them into art. The poem questions this and how healthy the society it reflects may or may not be. The fact that this is available for viewing as a commentary on viewing other people’s home-made, haphazard digital media film “art” encloses it in a shroud of irony.