ENG1120 PA Research Essay Assignment
Due Date: May 28, 2015
Weight: 20% of final grade
Using at least three (3) peer-reviewed, scholarly sources, write an essay of 1500-2000 words (or 6-8 pages) on one of the following subjects. Please note that websites such as wikipedia, sparknotes, schmoop.com, blogs, and general university websites do not count as scholarly sources. If you have any questions about what constitutes a scholarly source, you are encouraged to check with me before using them.
- 12pt Times New Roman font; double-spacing throughout; one-inch margins on all sides; pages numbered (last name and page number on the top right-hand corner of each page); pages stapled together
- Please do not add a cover page to your essay. Instead, include on the top left-hand corner of the first page you name, student number, course code and section, the instructor’s name, and the date of submission. The title should be centered, but with no special formatting (no boldface, no underlining, no italics except for book titles, 12-point Times New Roman Font); See http://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/747/01/ for examples.
- You must cite all of your sources both in the body of your paper and in a separate Works Cited page. Follow the MLA (Modern Languages Association) style of documentation (see http://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/747/05/).
- The natural environment figures heavily in both Frankenstein. Identify the elements of one aesthetic theory (the sublime, the beautiful, the uncanny, or the abject) and, using examples from the novels, compare their treatments of nature. Remember to include an expository paragraph that defines and lays out the aspects of the theory that you will be discussing. NOTE: dictionary definitions of the uncanny, sublime, and abject reflect common usage and definitions of the words, not the theories themselves. For this prompt, you are to use the aesthetic theory.
- Both Alice Munro’s “Open Secrets,” and Shelley Jackson’s Skin: Ineradicable Stain address the ways in which people are created both by the language we use to tell our stories, and the ways in which our stories are imposed on us from outside. Find a common argument between each text and use it to guide your exploration of the following:
Begin with an episode from “Open Secrets”. Discuss how language is used to impose an identity on one of the characters. Is it possible for that character to change his or her identity within the town? Then, discuss the significance of Shelley Jackson’s taking this idea to the extreme by having volunteers actually tattoo words on their skin. How does the actual material fact of the tattoo support or change this idea? What does it mean to actually turn people into words?
- So far in the course we have discussed how literary forms and genres carry with them assumptions and ideas about what stories should be, and what they reflect about the world. Choose one genre we discussed in this course (the gothic, the romance, Romanticism, Science Fiction, the Pastoral, Utopia, or Dystopia). Does Shelley Jackson’s Skin: Ineradicable Stain project reflect or undermine the elements of those genres? Remember to begin with an expository paragraph that defines the genre you will explore and the elements of that genre you will discuss in your essay.
- Compare the monster in Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein to the replicant in “Rachel”. For these authors, are there limits to the human, and, if so, what are they and how does each author describe them?
- In what ways to race and gender affect Rachel in “Rachel,” even after her status as replicant is revealed?
- Absurdism and Existentialism are both responses to the threat of nothingness and meaninglessness posed by the random nature of existence. In The Metamorphosis, Gregor Samsa shuffles into the living room in spite of the isolation imposed on him by his consideration for his family. In “The Nose,” Major Kovaloff must endure a structure of seemingly meaningless conventions associated with rank in the civil service to convince his own nose return to its place on his face. In “The Second Bakery Attack,” the main character and his wife navigate a Tokyo that has been overtaken by American corporatism. Compare the small gestures of empowerment each main character attempts to make within their relatively powerless positions. Do these small acts of rebellion offer the characters any relief from their helplessness?
- Overall, this course has been asking what happens to narrative when it encounters monstrosity: monsters, the unacceptable, the massive, the unconscionable. Choose one (1) text from each major literary period of the course (the Romantic Period, Modernism, and Postmodernism), and, using what you know about form and genre, write an essay explaining what you think happens to narrative cohesion in its encounter with the monstrous.
*Things to keep in mind when writing your essay:
* Quote directly from the text to support the main points of your argument. Close textual analysis involves incorporating pertinent quotations from the story or novel into your argument, and explaining in detail what you understand the significance of the passage you have cited to be. Be attentive to such textual features as language/diction, imagery/symbolism, setting, narrative structure, and perspective of narration.
* Avoid plot summaries or lengthy repetitions of “what happens” in the story or novel; assume that your reader is familiar with the text. I am interested in your analysis – that is, the argument you are going to make about your concept, based on the specific textual evidence you are going to draw on. An insightful analysis depends on your familiarity with the text, but that familiarity in itself is not what the essay should be concerned to demonstrate. Bear in mind that providing a description or summary of what happens in the text does not constitute an analysis of how those textual events and situations are significant. You must offer your own reading, or interpretation, of the significance of the passages, quotes, and textual features you draw upon in your essay.
* Note about plagiarism:
Failing to adequately document your sources, presenting someone else’s work as your own, and handing in the same assignment for more than one class all constitute academic fraud. Anyone found guilty of this serious offense will be subject to severe sanctions; these may range from receiving a failing grade in the assignment or course in question, to losing all course credits for the academic year, to being expelled from the University. It is your responsibility as a student to familiarize yourself with the University’s policy on academic fraud. For further information, consult the Faculty of Arts website at: http://www.arts.uottawa.ca/eng/students/fraud.html.
Professor Jennifer Baker
28 May 2015
Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein and the Replicant in “Rachel”
The two stories show similarities in their content and genre including the fact that they highlight the significant human achievements of creating other living creatures. However, the two authors use these stories to demonstrate incidences of courage and weakness caused by the creatures in the two stories as well as the human characters. The two stories are littered with numerous examples of human limitations as well as heroic acts as evidenced by Rachel’s acts of saving the police officers life. The incidences of human limitations are numerous with the two authors striving to bring out human struggles as the human species strives to survive in a dangerous world where its own creations can destroy the human race (Aguirre 12). The aim of this essay is to highlight the human limitations described within the two stories in order to determine whether these limitations have any positive value to humanity.
Mary Shelly’s Frankenstein describes human beings as people without limitation in terms of their survival ability as evidenced by comments such as, “We, however, lay to until the morning, fearing to encounter in the dark those large loose masses which float about after the breaking up of the ice (page 15).” These comments were written by Walton in his fourth letter to his sister to describe the dangerous situation they faced on their voyage including how he meets with Victor. Shelly demonstrates the superiority of Walton and Victor’s ambition as they strive to remain alive under dangerous conditions. Walton and his crew including Victor are able to brave the weather until the end of the novel when Walton heeds the pleas of his crew and decides to terminate his adventure. Shelly demonstrates that human beings have an immense ability to withstand tough weather and living conditions in order to achieve their dreams and aspirations up to the point where they risk losing their lives. Shelly describes this determination as an innate part of the main make characters in the novel as they all fight for their dreams and their loves, including the monster created by Victor who craves a chance to have a companion. This trait exemplifies the immense courage of the male characters within the story as portrayed by the author (Biwu 9).
The limits of human beings within Frankenstein do not extend to the field of scientific discovery as evidenced by Victor’s unending desire for scientific knowledge that would enable him to create life. Professor Waldman speaks the following quote about the limitations of modern philosophers at the time when Frankenstein was written:
“…but these philosophers, whose hands seem only made to dabble in dirt, and their eyes to pore over the microscope or crucible, have indeed performed miracles… They ascend into the heavens; they have discovered how the blood circulates, and the nature of the air we breathe. They have acquired new and almost unlimited powers; they can command the thunders of heaven, mimic the earthquake… (pg 46).”
This quote is of crucial significance throughout the whole story as it opens up Victor’s mind to the limitless possibilities of what he can achieve through the study of science. The author uses this quote to prepare the ready for the impossible feat accomplished by Victor when he creates a creature in the image of human beings. Waldman clearly does not see any limitation to human abilities in the scientific field and ignites Walton’s desire to achieve great things as a scientist.
The author also expresses a veiled warning to the great human abilities in the field of scientific study through Victor’s nightmares, which foreshadow Elizabeth’s death as evidenced by comments such as, the description of the images of Elizabeth as “livid with the hue of death.” The author’s description of Victor’s obsession with his new creation throughout chapters 3-5 is a direct precursor to the tragedy that is awaiting Victor in future. This suggests that the author uses Victor as an example of the limitations of human beings given that they can dedicate significant amounts of time to specific ventures, but such dedication would have a negative impact on the person’s health (Burkett). The fever that caught Victor soon after his friend, Henry Clerval’s arrival is a direct result of him neglecting his health in his pursuit of creating the creature, which turned out into a monster. Although the author shows a subtle admiration of Victor’s dedication, the underlying message of caution is the core of the story, which is demonstrated throughout the story as Victor fights to kill the monster he created. Although Victor was able to create a monstrous creature, the author demonstrates human limitation by allowing the monster to become vengeful in order to highlight Victor’s inability to control his creation, which is a human limitation.
Shelly demonstrates the significant limits of endurance that human beings have towards suffering as part of the human condition. Many of the characters in the story suffer greatly including Victor, his wife Elizabeth, his mother and his friend Henry. Although most of the characters stories do not have a happy conclusion, as Frankenstein is a horror tragedy, the characters persevere through most of their suffering up to the point where outside forces take their lives. Victor suffers throughout the story as he is forced to witness and bear the guilt of the death of Justine, William and Elizabeth. Although Justine confesses to the crime of killing William, she confides of her innocence to Victor and Elizabeth, while hoping that her confession would lead to her future salvation. According to Victor Justine (…appeared confident in innocence and did not tremble, although gazed on and execrated by thousands (pg 90).” Although it pained Victor to watch Justine being convicted of a crime that she did not commit, he had to suffer in silence, as there was no way he would have saved her. Justine also suffered in silence knowing that she did not commit the crime she was accused of (Benford 331). The human suffering within the story is described in vivid detail with the author ensuring that the readers feel the pain of suffering felt by the characters.
The women characters within the story are highly passive with minor roles in the story that are limited to waiting patiently for their men and performing house chores with no powerful women characters. This could be the biggest human limitation within the novel given that the author is a woman who should have empowered the female characters in her novel by given them significant roles. Victor’s mother is described as a woman whose greatest virtue was taking care of her children, which led to her death as she cared for Elizabeth. Victor describes her mother’s sacrifice in saving Elizabeth at a fatal cost and against the wishes of her family, “… many arguments had been urged to persuade my mother to refrain from attending upon her (pg 39).” The other women in the story are also play passive roles as exemplified by Elizabeth who waits patiently for the return of her lover Victor, while fearing the worst until she is killed by the monster. Justine also plays a passive role as the victim of a false accusation that leads to her execution (Britton 17). I believe that the greatest limitation within Shelly’s Frankenstein was the absence of at least one powerful female character that could have an equal role to the male characters. However, I propose that maybe the author used passive female characters on purpose to demonstrate the damage that can occur in societies where women play an extremely passive role.
Larissa Lai’s Rachel has the replicant Rachel at the center of events throughout the novel and she is more powerful than the female characters in Shelly’s Frankenstein. She is a powerful character as the events in the story revolve around her. Lai makes her the heroine of the story when she saves the policeman’s life as he was being attacked by an escaped replicant on the street (Lunsford 173). “From the alley, the replicant steps out behind the policeman and grabs him in a headlock. The policeman thrashes, but isn’t strong enough. The replicant puts a gun to his temple. My heart… (pg 58).” This quote is a description of Rachel’s heroic moment as she saved the policeman’s life by killing the android that had attacked the policeman. Lai highlights the strength of the female character that is facing tremendous personal difficulty is her search for her identity. However, as much as Rachel is a powerful character within the story, her powers are limited by her apparent naivety and lack of experience in terms of romantic relationships and human emotions. Rachel struggles to identify the feelings she has for the police officer, which demonstrates that she is naïve about the feelings of love and attachment. The author uses her naivety as her greatest limitation although she is not human.
As the central character in the story, Rachel influences Deckard’s feelings, which causes him to fall in love with her. The resulting emotions lead Deckard to try to protect Rachel from being killed by her creators because she has far exceeded her expiry date. Deckard is initially surprised that Rachel does not recognized her origins as an android given that she believed her false human identity and even had memories of an inexistent childhood. Deckard’s inability to control his feelings of love towards Rachel is used by Lai as an example of human limitation as she describes it as a weakness. Within Lai’s story, love and human emotions are great limitations as the characters are unable to restrain themselves or their actions in relation to the love they feel for others. However, human emotions are used by the android manufacturers to create obedient creatures that do the hard work shunned by human beings without the numerous liabilities commonly associated with human beings.
Lai and Shelly both raise questions about what it means to be human as evidenced by the replicant falling in love with the police officer and the monster falling in love with Elizabeth. These two incidences suggest that the human creators may have passed on some of the crucial human limitations caused by emotions such as love and anger to their creations. These incidences allow the readers to question their beliefs about humanity and some of the common assumptions about what it means to be human (Gexin 338). The two stories do not lead the readers to a specific conclusion, but allow the reader to draw their own conclusions about the relationships between human beings and human-like creatures created by scientists.
In conclusion, the two authors succeed in highlighting the core limitations of human beings, which include the desire to cheat death and acquire dangerous knowledge, the emotions of love, hatred and anger among a host of other limitations. However, these limitations can be viewed as progressive obstacles that the human race must endure in order to evolve into a better all-inclusive society. The human race can learn crucial lessons about the negative consequences of creating human-like creatures that have life, which have more disadvantages than advantages. Readers can also learn about the human quality of courage and perseverance in difficult times where others would have quit, but characters such as Victor continued fighting until they were killed, which demonstrates courage. These stories should serve as a reminder to human beings that if it were not for the courage of explorers travelling to unknown lands, or scientists trying to push human civilization forward through new inventions, the world would not be what it is today.
Aguirre, Manuel. “Gothic Fiction And Folk-Narrative Structure: The Case Of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein.” Gothic Studies 2 (2013): 1-18.
Benford, Criscillia. “Listen To My Tale”: Multilevel Structure, Narrative Sense Making, and the Inassimilable In Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein.” Narrative 18.3 (2010): 324-346.
Biwu, Shang. “Ethical Literary Criticism: International Perspectives.” Forum For World Literature Studies 1 (2015): 1-6.
Britton, Jeanne M. “Novelistic Sympathy In Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein.” Studies In Romanticism 1 (2009): 3-22.
Burkett, Andrew. “Mediating Monstrosity: Media, Information, And Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein.” Studies In Romanticism 4 (2012): 579-606.
Gexin, Yang. “Ethical Literary Criticism: A New Approach To Literature Studies.” Forum For World Literature Studies 2 (2014): 335-339.
Hall, Geoff. “Stylistics And Ethical Literary Criticism.” Forum For World Literature Studies 1 (2015): 62-72.
Lunsford, Lars. “The Devaluing Of Life In Shelley’s FRANKENSTEIN.” Explicator 68.3 (2010): 174-176.
Miller, John J. “Monsters.” Claremont Review of Books 2014: 86-90.
Strachan, Janet. “Considering Alternative Viewpoints: Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein.” Idiom 46.1 (2010): 54-61.