Saturday, November 28, 2015

Coursera: Fantasy and Science Fiction: The Human Mind, Our Modern World (Part 5)

And... it's time for another week. I was actually rather unsure if I would submit an essay, because I totally did not enjoy A Princess of Mars. Herland, too, had a rather strong overtone of "THIS IS A MESSAGE. ACCEPT ME", which I'm not too fond of. Even if I agree with the message. But, I found a topic, so I wrote an essay.

The Manly Man in Herland and Princess of Mars

Although Herland is a feminist utopian novel and Princess of Mars is a swashbuckling space western, both of them feature protagonists that can be classified as "manly men". In Herland, this character is Terry, and in a Princess of Mars, the character is John Carter. However, the two books portray the two characters differently.

In Herland, Terry is a character who is a lady-chaser, active and always looking for something "to oppose, to struggle with, to conquer", things Jeff calls "masculine nonsense". In other words, Terry wants "Something Doing", or in other words, an adventure, which explains why "his great aim was exploration". However, in Herland, Terry is the character that cannot adapt, and after attacking his wife, is expelled from the clearly utopian Herland

On the other hand, John Carter in A Princess of Mars is the hero of the story. He has", in his own words, "always outclassed my adversary in agility and generally in strength as well", is made a chieftain although he is a prisoner, and gets the girl. He survives by being the best fighter in a planet that reveres fighting. Although Dejah Thoris can be a strong female character, her principle role is to let John Carter rescue her. This is unlike the women in Herland, who are wise rulers and can think (and stand up) for themselves.

It's clear that the two different types of environments result in the same type of character being seen in two different ways. In a world where peace and maternal wisdom rule, the manly man is unnecessary and the reader is led to see that his actions are destructive for the betterment of society. On the other hand, in a world where fighting is revered and women characters exist to support the male, the manly man is the hero of the story, revered and respected by all.

Grade: 4

Thoughts: There seemed to be a few contradictory evaluations this week, but they're all food for thought. Now to finish reading Bradbury by tomorrow (I loved F451, but I haven't read much of this other works.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

The Gauge War by S.C. Green

Where should I start with this book? It took me some time to get back into the groove, but once I was back in the world of the Engine Ward, I couldn't put the book down at all.

The Gauge War is the second book in the Engine Ward series, the first being The Sunken (read my review here). In fact, this book picks up where The Sunken left off, so it's probably a good thing to re-read the first book before moving on to this one. I managed to eventually remember enough of the story, but it meant that the first few pages were somewhat confusing to me.

And like I speculated in the first book, the true protagonist of this series appears to be Isambard Brunel, now the Metal Messiah, the only character without a point of view. I mentioned that the book ended with the different view points holding contradictory views, but in this book, they gradually start to converge again.

Why? Because absolute power corrupts absolutely. That's all I'm going to say. But to elaborate just a little bit more on the plot; basically, the Boilers built by Brunel are now everywhere. But the threat to England isn't over yet, and it's not just coming from the outside (France).

Can I just say that Brunel scares me to death? He's really cool and all, but I suspect that he has no heart, judging by the way that he treats his friends. Either that or the things he went in his childhood have really traumatised him. As always, Nicholas and Aaron are two awesome and likeable dudes, while James, the blind physician, was interesting until he fell.

My biggest surprise, though, was Stephenson. He's an antagonist for most of the book, but the more I see of him, the more I realise my first impression of him was wrong. Not gonna say anymore, because that would probably veer into spoiler territory.

A word of warning though - the ending is incredibly dark. But, I just re-read it, and I think S.C. Green is setting it up for a book three in a very clever way. I hope I'm right!

Disclaimer: I got a free copy of this book from the author in exchange for a free and honest review.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Teaser Tuesday - Last Rituals by Yrsa Sigurdardottir

Today's teaser is from a book that I picked up randomly from the library's online store. It sounded interesting, and I've never read a murder mystery set in Iceland, so here we are. I'm really enjoying it so far - it's an interesting read, although the start was a bit heavy on the information.

My teaser:
"She doubted that Matthew had threatened the lawyer, and thought it more likely he had promised a fee for arranging the interview - which would have been unethical at best. She felt better imagining they would be assisting the defense counsel."

So, what is your teaser this week?
Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of A Daily Rhythm. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:
  • Grab your current read 
  • Open to a random page 
  • Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page 
  • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!) 
  • Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

Monday, November 23, 2015

The Children's Home by Charles Lambert (ARC)

This book was intensely frustrating. It was an interesting read, that's for sure, but it was also really frustrating. Also, I'm not really seeing the resemblance to Neil Gaiman and Roald Dahl. Again, it's not that the book is bad, but I'm not seeing it.

The Children's Home is sort about Morgan, although it might also be about the mysterious children that he picks up. Morgan used to be handsome (his own words), but after a terrible accident that isn't really an accident, he's now disfigured. Living alone, with a housekeeper that he thinks his sister sent, he's secluded from the world. But as the children come, he starts to open up, and lets more people into his life, including his new friend, Dr. Crane. But the children are not normal, and they're looking for something.

One thing about this book that frustrated me was that I never knew what was going on. I'm used to having at least a handle on the plot, so not knowing why things were happening, and who exactly these children were was frustrating. Things are somewhat explained at the end, but not enough to feel satisfying.

By the way, if you're like me and like to jump to the end of the book and spoiler yourself so you can then relax and enjoy the journey, don't bother. You have to read this book from the start to the end if you want to understand what's going on. I guess it's good training for me - must not rush.

I guess the good thing about this book is that it's unsettling. Something is wrong, and that sense of unease is carried out throughout the whole book - is that what they meant by the comparison to Roald Dahl? To his short stories and not his longer works? But I think I understood Roald Dahl a bit more.

All in all, this is a short, strange little book. It's a bit unsettling, and after reading it, I'm still not sure what a lot of the book is about. It's not bad, per se, but it didn't wow me.

Disclaimer: I got a free copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for a free and honest review.

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Coursera: Fantasy and Science Fiction: The Human Mind, Our Modern World (Part 4)

We've finished more than half the course! This unit is unit 6, and it's about H.G. Wells. I chose to do my essay on The Island of Doctor Moreau. I also considered The Invisible Man, but couldn't find a suitable topic in time.

The Beast People: Human or Not?

One famous description of man is of him as "a little lower than the angels"[1] and made to "have dominion over the works of thy hands; thou hast put all things under his feet, All sheep and oxen, yea, and the beasts of the field; The fowl of the air, and the fish of the sea, and whatsoever passeth through the paths of the seas."[2] Man is a contradictory animal, with both soul and flesh. In this essay, I would like to examine the nature of the Beast People in The Island of Dr. Moreau, and their relationship to their creator.

First, the Beast People are described as "triumphs of vivisection". They are animal, with the "soul of beasts", but with the Law, they aim to overcome their earthly nature and attain humanhood. In this respect, they are similar to humans, who struggle between the two ends of angels and beasts. In fact, H.G. Wells suggests as much at the end of the book, as Prendick sees the similarities between humans and the Beast People, and "[can] not persuade [himself] that the men and women [he meets] were not also another Beast People"[3].

Next, I would like to discuss the beast people and their relationship to Dr. Moreau. It is a twisted relationship of the traditional relationship between the Christian and God. Dr. Moreau gives them the Law, but makes no other attempt to make them human. Indeed, Dr. Moreau dismisses their "hymns", marriages, houses and calls them a "travesty of humanity." He is a creator who feels no love for his creation [4], a twisted version of the Christian God.

In conclusion, the Beast People and their relationship with Dr. Moreau can be viewed as a twisted version of the Judeo-Christian view of the relationship between humans and God. In this way, the created reflects the attitudes and character of the creator.

Grade Received: 4
What I learnt: There isn't one lesson in particular, but this week's feedback is way better than the previous few weeks. In the previous weeks, I had about half the responses left blank, this week, there was only one blank! And nice detailed comments too XD

The next unit is on Burroughs and Gilman. I've only read A Princess of Mars, but I don't think I can write about it without going into a rent. Hopefully, Herland goes better.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Creativity Inc by Ed Catmull

This is one of those books that, when I started, was a bit disappointing, but when I changed my mindset, turned awesome and inspiring. There were so many lines that I wanted to save as quotes, such as
Ideas though, are not singular. They are forged through tens of thousands of decisions, often made by dozens of people.
For all the care you put into artistry, visual polish frequently doesn't matter if you are getting the story right.

(Although maybe the second quote is only inspiring to me?)

Of course, it makes sense that the book is great for advice on telling a good story - after all, this is a memoir of Pixar, the studio that brought us Monster's Inc, Finding Nemo, etc. Lots of good stories came out from that place.

At first, I approached this book thinking this was going to be a wellspring of story advice. So when I realised it was about the birth of Pixar and what made it Pixar, I was disappointed, to say the least. So I took a break before returning to the book, this time with the mindset of "this is a business biography".

Things really changed after that. Apart from enjoying the history of Pixar, I found lots of gems, such as
When downsides coexist with upsides, as they often do, people are reluctant to explore what's bugging them, for fear of being labelled complainers.
^That is totally true. The fear of being labelled a complainer, especially in a culture that values group harmony, can end up with people getting unhappy and gradually more and more unproductive.

There's a lot of talk about company culture here. The employees are what make Pixar great, and the book talks about how they built the culture, challenges in maintaining it (especially in the face of huge changes), and how problems areas can creep up without anyone noticing - a call to be vigilant, if anything.

The book covers the founding of Pixar to its acquisition/merger with Disney, ending with a note about the author's feelings on the passing of Steve Jobs. Once I changed my expectations, I ended up really enjoying the book, and learning a lot from it. I highly recommend this to fans of Pixar.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Dead Eyed by Matt Brolly

When I was asked if I would read and review the book, my answer was (obviously) yes. I do have a soft spot for mysteries after all, and this one, with the creepy murder and latin words, sounded really interesting.

Dead Eyed follows DCI Michael Lambert, who was more than just a normal policeman (I don't mean superhero, I meant with his job) when a horrible accident brought everything to a halt. But, a murderer called the Soul Jacker starts killing again, after an 18 year pause. Since this murderer is closely linked to the past (and one of his friends got pictures of the murder), Lambert can't help but do some investigating of his own. Of course, this means he gets to cross paths with the official investigator, DCI Sarah May.

I really, really liked this mystery. For one thing, the twist completely through me for a loop. You'd think that after reading so many mysteries, I'd learn to expect that predict the twist, but I did not see this one coming.

I also liked the relationship between Lambert and May, though not as much as the mystery. The two of them had obvious chemistry from the start, but the fact that Lambert is married put quite a bit of a wrench into things. I did like that Lambert did not immediately go after May. Their relationship by the end of the book gives me hope that we can see it grow slowly and naturally over the next couple of books, instead of them being instantly established as some sort of super-couple.

As far as mysteries go, this one seemed to be fairly 'normal' for the world. I use 'normal' because the book introduces us to what Lambert's job really is, which makes me think that the next few mysteries could be a lot more ambitious than a serial killer (though it's hard to imagine a crime worse than killing and mutilating multiple people). But I can totally see the non-personal stakes getting higher and higher as Lambert pulls himself together and goes back to work.

Overall, this was a really great novel. The twist during the reveal of the mystery surprised me, and throughout the whole book, I found myself really rooting for Lambert and May (not as a couple, not yet, but as separate characters). I look forward to reading more from Matt Brolly.

Disclaimer: I got a copy of this book from the author in exchange for a free and honest review.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Teaser Tuesday - The Gauge War by S.C. Green

Hey everyone! Can you believe it's Tuesday again? I swear, the weeks went by faster and faster this year. Anyway, right now, I'm making my way through The Gauge War by S.C. Green, the second book in the Engine Ward series. I'm enjoying it, because the setting is just so interesting - imagine a world where science is literally the religion.

My teaser:
"Far from the desolate, mud-strangled wasteland Nicholas had always envisaged, the swamps carried their own unique beauty. He followed Brunel through mist-cloaked valleys, past trees bent and twisted into eldritch shapes, through pools of warm, cloudy water."
What is your teaser this week?

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of A Daily Rhythm. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:
  • Grab your current read 
  • Open to a random page 
  • Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page 
  • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!) 
  • Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

Monday, November 16, 2015

Sacrifice by Sharon Bolton

I heard about Sharon Bolton when the Literary Feline over at Musings of a Bookish Kitty reviewed one of her books called Little Black Lies. It sounded awesome, and I wanted to borrow it, but the library didn't have it. They did, however, have her debut novel, Sacrifice, so I borrowed that.

Sacrifice is also a mystery, with a very interesting protagonist. Tora Hamilton is an outsider in the Shetland Islands, while her husband is not. While trying to bury a dearly departed horse, she finds a woman with her heart cut out. Her curiosity causes her to team up with the outcast on the police force, Dana, and they must work out what exactly is going on.

Where this book shines is in the ways it brings a small, closed community to life. Tora and Dana are clearly outsiders, and people are hiding something from them. As Dana puts it clearly - this is an old boy's club. This turns upstart women searching for the truth into something more than detectives, it approaches social commentary.

Of course, it's also possible that I'm reading too much into this, because my paper on women managers in Japan is so depressing. Do you know how many companies I've found that have 0 women managers? Way too many.

Anyway, back to Tora. Tora is clearly a capable woman, but she's not without her flaws. She's stubborn, and she does jump to conclusions a bit too quickly. But, I thought that these flaws make her more endearing, because she becomes more human. I'm used to extremely capable detectives (for example, Dana), but it's refreshing to see one that doesn't exactly bumble along, but doesn't have a smooth path to success. Tora is no Poirot, but she's a likeable character all the same.

I will definitely be going to read more of Sharon Bolton's novels. And I hope the library gets Little Black Lies someday soon.

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Coursera: Fantasy and Science Fiction: The Human Mind, Our Modern World (Part 3)

So I have somehow made it through yet another week! It's starting to look like I can complete the whole course, although I'm not sure how I'm even making the time to read the stuff...

Anyway, this week was a selection of stories from Hawthorne and Poe. I quite liked Poe, but I'm not sure if Hawthorne was for me. Still wrote on him though. Anyway, my essay:

The Mary Sue in Hawthorne

In fanfiction, the term Mary Sue pops up frequently. A Mary Sue is a female character who is unnaturally beautiful and talented, and everyone character in the story adores her. If she dies, it is in a heroic self-sacrifice that saves the entire universe, and everyone will mourn her. In this essay, I would like to consider if the female characters in Hawthorne's 'The Birthmark' and 'Rappaccini's Daughter' fit the stereotype of the Mary Sue.

In The Birthmark, Georgiana is considered perfect, except for one, superficial flaw. To me, this resembles the superficial flaw many Mary Sues often have (like clumsiness). In addition, Georgiana seems to be presented as the perfect, meek woman, which female readers might wish to aspire to. However, her ignoble death goes against the Mary Sue stereotype.

In Rappaccini's Daughter, Beatrice is blessed with beauty and the power to live among dangerous plants. She appears perfect, a trait of many Mary Sues. Yet for love, she's willing to divest herself of her powers, and eventually dies. Like Georgiana, her death is not a self-sacrifice, but is more of a total submission to the man that she has fallen in love with. In this way, her death goes against the Mary Sue stereotype.

The female characters in the above two stories are both presented as ideal women - meek and beautiful. In this aspect, they fit the Mary Sue ideal of the perfect female character. However, their ending prevents them from being classified as a Mary Sue, as their untimely and ignoble deaths negate the wish-fulfilment/self-insert function of the Mary Sue. Unless, of course, one wishes to be a tragic heroine. But that is not the norm in most fandoms.

Grade: 4

What I learnt: Someone commented I could have used more evidence in my essay, and I totally agree. Should have done that. But it seems like trying to be more focused was a good idea. Now, I'll have to find a new topic to write about - this week, we're reading stories by H.G. Wells. Still making my way through The Island of Dr. Moreau!

Thursday, November 12, 2015

The Heartless City by Andrea Berthot

Maybe it's because I read this alongside Broken Dolls, but while The Heartless City is a decent story, it didn't have that spark that Broken Dolls had for me.

The Heartless City follows two characters - Elliot Morrissey, the son of the city's most famous doctor and Iris Faye, a strange American. Iris was born unusual, Elliot made himself unusual (although not quite in the way he hoped). Both of them live in isolated London, which was cut off from the rest of the world when the Hyde monsters were let loose. When chance threw them together, Elliot finds himself attracted to Iris, and Iris finds a chance to get revenge. But more than that, the two of them will have to work together to find out who or what's behind the Hyde phenomenon.

First things first, I thought the concept of the Hyde monsters was unusual and well-done. I was definitely intrigued by that from the start. The story too, was decent, and flowed at a good pace. All in all, I should have been satisfied.

But, there was something missing from the book. As soon as Elliot and Iris met, I could see how their relationship would turn out. Once I was introduced to Elliot's best friends Cam and Andrew, I could see how that was going too. The philosophising by Elliot didn't really help either. The most original character of the lot had to be Philomena, who's clever and breaks all the rules.

I suppose I may have expected too much. The concept of the story was original enough that I expected the plot and the characters to be different. Unfortunately, while they were decent enough that I would have enjoyed it (had I gone into the story without any expectations), my expectations were just a bit too high, and the story didn't sparkle for me like it could have.

Disclaimer: I got a free copy of this book from the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for a free and honest review.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Primates of Park Avenue by Wednesday Martin

I heard about this book when it made a small fuss for possibly not being as accurate as it claims to be. Plus, it was a gossipy look at high society, and after the tranwreck that is "Everybody Rise", I was hoping for a more sensible look at how the American rich lived. What better than a memoir written through the lens of an anthropologist?

Primates of Park Avenue is about Wednesday Martins, who moves to Upper East Side and discovers a whole new world. The women here look like they have it all, and they probably spend a ton to get the look too. Plus, the community really is a jungle, with people judging your status and adjusting your interactions accordingly. 

Let's start with the annoying thing: The 'fieldnotes' stuff was annoying. I didn't really get the short sections that acted as though the author was so separate from these people - just cut to the gossipy parts of wanting to fit in (and whether she fails or succeeds). Thankfully, this only comprised a small part of the book.

And now, the good part of this book: it is much, much less annoying than Everybody Rise. Yes, Wednesday Martin longs to fit in, just like the protagonist in Everybody Rise, but I find that she's more honest about it. Plus, she was entertaining to me. I didn't even feel that she was whiny, but then again, I did finish a book with a very whiny main character. So, your mileage may vary. 

Plus, I liked that she occasionally tried to get to the root of the situation, such as the reasons why the world is so strictly segregated by gender (although I do wonder how she met that influential Alpha dad if almost all events were segregated. I guess that was one of the rare mixed events?).

The ending was quite touching (not including the last chapter, which returns to the light-hearted tone that most of the book uses). It was actually the best part of the book, because it showed the moms of Upper East Side breaking out of the mould that the author had put them in for most of the book. If the book was like this, a more balanced view, it would have been excellent. As it is, it's a gossipy book that may or may not be accurate. 

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Teaser Tuesday - Dead Eyed by Matt Brolly

Hello! Time for another Teaser Tuesday :D

I'm in a fairly good mood this week, because my worst assignments are over!

So right now, I'm reading Dead Eyed by Matt Brolly - totally enjoying it (if enjoying a murder mystery makes sense), and I'm really anxious to know who the killer is.

My teaser:

"Everything was a clutter, his mind a jumble of useless information. Experience told him that trying to think about other things often led to inspiration, to an insight that would otherwise elude him."

What is your teaser this week?

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of A Daily Rhythm. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:
  • Grab your current read 
  • Open to a random page 
  • Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page 
  • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!) 
  • Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

Monday, November 9, 2015

Broken Dolls by Tyrolin Puxty

I have no idea where I should start for this review. I love this book so, so, so much. Gak. Please bear with me as I try to write things down in a coherent and not overly fangirl sort of way.

Ok, so the story. Broken Dolls is a story about Ella, a doll who can walk and talk. She was once human, but now she's not and she can't remember why. One day, a new doll called Libby comes, and unlike Ella, she's not happy being turned into a doll. But is the professor truly evil? Or is Libby the evil one?

Basically, I loved this book for the plot twist and the concept. Ok, and because the cover was cool.

First, the plot. I had honestly started the book and immediately assumed that it was going to be like a lot of the YA dystopian that I've read. But the book proceeded in a completely different way from what I expected, and that was awesome. (POSSIBLY SLIGHT SPOILERS) I distrusted Libby from the start, but I'm not exactly normal when it comes to judging characters (sometimes), so I thought that I was just reacting weirdly to the story. Turns out I wasn't.

The ending was a little heartbreaking, but I understood it. It wasn't a conventional happy ending, but it's strangely satisfying.

Apart from the totally cool twist, the concept of this book was amazing. It's a pretty 'small' story, if you think about it. Just a doll trying to figure out if she wants to know why she's a doll. But it's set against this world where things have gone incredibly wrong, and the science is obviously a bit more advanced than ours. Or the professor is a genius. Either one. I am really incredibly curious about what's going on in the wider world, but I think the author made the right choice not to over-explain, but let us wonder about what's going on in parts of the world not directly related to the story. We do get the information necessary, but only as and when it's needed for the main plot.

The characters were pretty well-done. Ella, the professor and Gabby, the professor's daughter were very well-done, and I thought they were very human. Libby is a psychopath, and well, there are two other characters, but they didn't appear enough to feel real to me. But since they're not very major, it's not a problem for me.

In short, I loved this book. Mostly because of the twist, but also because this a world with characters that grabbed me from the start and pulled me along for the ride. I totally made the right choice to request this book for review.

Disclaimer: I got a free copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for a free and honest review.

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Coursera: Fantasy and Science Fiction: The Human Mind, Our Modern World (Part 2)

So, I was in Saga last week, but still managed to get the essay out! The blogging... not so much. But for the last two weeks, we read Dracula by Bram Stoker and Frankenstein by Mary Shelley. Unlike the previous two books, this was actually my first time reading these classics.

Week 3: Dracula

My essay

The Transylvanian Castle as a Twisted Garden of Eden and What it Implies

"You may go anywhere you wish in the castle, except where the doors are locked, where of course you will not wish to go." Does this ring a bell? It did to me. I was reminded of Genesis 2:16, where God instructs Adam and Eve that "you are free to eat from any tree in the garden, but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of Good and Evil". In the book, the quote is followed by a reference to the count's "knowledge". And like Adam and Eve, when Jonathan gains knowledge, his idyllic life is no more, and he, Mina and their friends are thrown into a world of suffering.

While the comparison of the Count's castle to a twisted Garden of Eden seems obvious to me, how would the original readers have seen it?

I believe so.

Christianity was a large part of Victorian English life, with the Church of England as the dominant Church. Bram Stoker himself was a member of the Church of Ireland. In addition, non-conformist Churches and challenges to Christianity had arisen. I believe that most readers, even non-religious ones, would have been exposed to various Bible stories and sermons from young, and hence would have made the connection immediately.

If the castle is a twisted Garden of Eden, then it's possible to read Dracula through the lens of the Christian Literary Theory. The story can be seen as showing the Fallen World, ruled by Satan, the Prince of the Air (Remember his powers of flight?). Bravely battling him, with symbols of Christianity, are our heroes. While Mina is not strictly a Christ-figure, she comes close with her selflessness, in taking on Dracula's 'sin' and using it to help the others, and finally being redeemed. In the end, evil is defeated and good triumphs.

What I learnt: Apparently, I am introducing too many things in one essay. Got to remember to focus only on one thing, in depth. Also, I need to make my writing more academic.

Grade: 4

Week 4: Frankenstein

My essay

"Abhorred Monster": The use of framing in the narrative to influence the reader

Throughout the novel Frankenstein, the reader is led to see the being created by Victor Frankenstein as some sort of monster. But, if an objective look is taken, this "daemon" and "abhorred monster" becomes something of a pitiful creature - created good, but committing evil deeds due to its rejection from society. It is not, at its core, an evil being.

Why then, and how, is the reader manipulated into believing the worst of Frankenstein's creation?

In the beginning of the novel, the reader is introduced to Frankenstein as a "noble" and sympathetic character. His character is elevated, and used to devalue the character of the monster. Because Frankenstein is so good, this monster that he has created and despises must therefore be bad. In this way, Captain Walton's opening primes the reader to think the worst of the monster.

The second half of the narrative is dominated by Frankenstein, and the monster first speaks only in Chapter 10. If the monster's speech is read in isolation, he is a sympathetic character, but the interjections of "fiend" and "wretched devil" prevent the reader from developing too much sympathy for it. While it is given a few chapters, the overwhelming dominance of Frankenstein's view prevents the reader from developing real sympathy for his creation.

During Captain Walton's closing narrative, he comes close feeling sympathy through the "expressions of [...] misery" from the monster. However, like the reader, he has been too influenced by Frankenstein, and seeing things through his eyes, has his indignation "rekindled". Any genuine emotion the monster may have is ignored.

In conclusion, Captain Walton plays the role of the reader, and his reactions influence and prime the reader to think the worst of Frankenstein's creation. This, coupled with the dominance of Frankenstein's narrative, turns a misunderstood being into a monster that has entered the cultural consciousness.

My grade: 4

As always, I'm interested in knowing if I made any mistakes in my analysis, or if there's anything that I could improve on.