Creation flawed society. The narrative structure of both texts

Creation is not a catastrophic force in itself; instead the imperfect society in which Ishiguro and Shelley write is the catastrophe. It is this chaotic and confusing society that represents a lost coherent whole because nearly all morality is lost. Frankenstein and Never Let Me Go were written to hold up a mirror to their society, focusing on issues that are arguably more prevalent in our contemporary society; human greed fuelled by society and consumerism, the root of catastrophe. Ishiguro wrote Never Let Me Go during a time of huge scientific breakthroughs, the cloning of Dolly the Sheep provoking his warnings against bioconsumerism. Ishiguro describes the narrative to be set in in a society “on the brink of all kinds of discoveries that will completely alter the way we run our lives”. In a similar fashion, Shelley wrote Frankenstein in the wake of the industrial revolution, concerned by prospects of men trying to act as ‘God’. Both written in times of change, Never Let Me Go and Frankenstein act as fables of how humanity can be lost in the quest for perfection. The loss in morals is exemplified by Frankenstein’s narcissistic motivation for creating life, saying “a new species would bless me as its creator and source; many… would owe their being to me.” His use of ‘bless’ reveals his ultimate goal of being worshipped, reiterated by his emphasis of ‘owe’. Epitomised in this presentation, Frankenstein and Never Let Me Go are commentaries of human nature and how problems faced by the creations are integral to our flawed society. The narrative structure of both texts force readers to empathise with the created forces. Ishiguro writes Never Let Me Go from Kathy’s perspective to humanise the clones. Kathy introduces herself using terms such as “carer” and “donors” in contexts unbeknown to the reader and says “if you’re one of them”, assuming the reader is a clone. Kathy’s assumption allows the reader to subconsciously identify with the clones, evoking empathy for their situation. This is furthered by her use of ‘them’, eliciting an image of segregation, creating an ominous persona within their society and arousing empathy as it reveals her limited worldview and inexperience. Likewise, Shelley allows the Creature to assume the narrative so that the reader is able to understand his motivations and justifications, thus humanising him. Their stories of ostracisation due to the circumstances of their creation underline the inequality seen throughout society due to capitalistic greed. This is shown in the refusal of society to recognise the clones as human, due to their commercial value and the Creature due to his disfigured appearance (meaning he is deemed ‘untouchable’), thus proving it is society’s superficial approach to life that has catastrophic consequences rather than the creation process.The clone’s inactivity in Never Let Me Go presents society to be the catastrophe over creation as it is ignorance that indoctrinates them into believing there is nothing to be done, rather than only their birth. Their inactivity in changing their future is encapsulated in the clones’ attempts to fit into society and their acceptance of their fate. Kathy emphasises how “typical” she is, a repeating theme as Ruth blatantly copies older students at the Cottage in language and gestures. Tommy’s tantrums and Ruth searching for her possible are the only actions that vaguely represent a mild form of rebellion. Even when Tommy and Kathy hope for a deferral, Kathy seems halfhearted, which can be linked to her belief “there’s no big conspiracy about it.” Nowhere in Kathy’s narrative does one uncover bitterness or anger, only acceptance. This reinforces the notion that for the clones to be welcomed, they must follow society’s rules and accept their fate. The whole concept of the donation process is based on how the clones owe their lives to science, therefore should willingly sacrifice themselves. This is established when Madame speaks on how privileged they were to receive the luxuries of Hailsham, intimating in return they should feel honoured to provide such a service. Moreover, it is only due to their indoctrinated mindset that they accept this inferior positioning. Their inability to revolt against destiny stems from their lack of free will. Ishiguro stresses the irony of Hailsham’s existence, its sole purpose being to provide happiness for children whose lives are simply “slow dying”. Even Hailsham’s ironic indoctrination is evident, particularly the failure of Madame’s push on artistic creativity as it does not factor other talents, like in Tommy’s case. Society’s indoctrination is embodied in Kathy who chooses wilful ignorance rather than face the oppression; “it’s a bit too much like a conspiracy theory for me”. McDonald accurately accuses the students of “willingly participating in a denial of both the outside world and their futures”. Ishiguro highlights this in order to show the naivety of the clones which is regimented by society, allowing social injustices to flourish. Ishiguro’s mention of “concentration camps” draws the reader’s attention to the parallels and also the scope of Kathy’s unworldliness. However, the responsibility for this does not lie with the clones but rather the dictator-like censorship, Kathy describing it as routine, when one “came across a page torn out”. Robbins addresses this “pervasive censorship” saying he thinks it ironic as the youth in “twenty-first century USA are probably told less of the truth about what will turn out to be their destiny than they are in Ishiguro’s brave new world”. This comment reveals the societal dictation of expectations, an aspect so unconscious that Ishiguro has not even captured this, exemplifying the catastrophe of society over creation. Thus, the growing frustration of the reader at the clones’ inactivity is ironic in itself as they are just as passive to the increasing grip hold of society as the clones are to their fates.Furthermore, both tales promote the innocence of the creations to juxtapose the unjust nature of society. Ishiguro focuses a greater portion of Never Let Me Go on the clones’ time at Hailsham, concentrating on childish innocence. Their endearing naivety accentuates how the creation process is not corruptive but rather vulnerable to corruption. Ishiguro depicts Tommy’s tantrums like a toddler’s, drawing the reader’s attention to the lack of parenting the clones receive.”His arms were still flailing about” suggest Tommy’s temper stems from his lack of parental guidance through likening his inability to control his emotions to his inability to control his arms. In an interview, Ishiguro explained “Hailsham is like a physical manifestation of what we have to do to all children… all children have to be deceived if they are to grow up without trauma”. His quote fortifies the sheltered life in which the clones exist, an example including their immature belief that their ‘possibles’ reflect their future or identity. Thus, creation is not the catastrophe as the clones are all born ‘pure’, like any child. Additionally, Shelley also uses vulnerability to garner sympathy for the Creature in Frankenstein. An initial example can be observed in the Creature’s reaching for Frankenstein when he is first awakened, comparable to the earliest movements of a newborn: “one hand was stretched out” and “a grin wrinkled his cheeks”, creating the image of a reaching, gummy baby, reinforcing the imagery of purity. Another instance is when the Creature saves a girl from drowning. The Creature manipulates his actions as evidence for redemption, shown in his emphasis of the difficulty in “extreme labour” against the”force of the current”, providing a moral platform. The saddening fact that the Creature believes he needs redemption mere weeks into his existence affirms the impact of society’s opinions, forcing him to conclude that he is a “wretch”. This drowning scene is particularly powerful for it not only provides confirmation that the Creature has a conscience, but it also underlines the beginning of the Creature’s fall into hatred. When seeing the Creature saving his drowning daughter, the father “aimed a gun… and fired”, exhibiting a similar reactionary fear or ignorance to Frankenstein’s initial encounter. The similarity in reactions; of fear and instinctive hatred, implies that humans are all the same. Through this, Shelley plants the blame for the fall of the Creature solely on all humankind, specifically outlining this scene as the moment when the Creature “vowed eternal hatred and vengeance to all mankind”. While the process started with Frankenstein’s abandonment, it was triggered by the father’s violence and concreted with the DeLacey’s rejection, showing the fact that human ignorance rather than the Creature’s own judgment eventually led to his path of revenge. Through this portrayal, Ishiguro and Shelley place entire blame on the rejection by society for the fates of the creations, thus naming society as the catastrophe.Thus, the power of judgement is highlighted in society’s focus on appearances when Frankenstein says: “I compassionated him… but when I looked upon him, when I saw the filthy mass…my feelings were altered to those of horror and hatred.” The use of ‘filthy’  is the only description given and is purely physical, yet it is enough to change Frankenstein’s entire sympathies, embodying the sway of appearances on mankind. The emphasis on appearances promoted by Victorian society meant that Frankenstein would naturally be elevated due his status, wealth and charm. One can see this opinion reflected in that of Elizabeth and Walton’s, both of whom worship his intellect and company. Walton describes Frankenstein to be “gentle, yet so wise, his mind is so cultivated … his words flow with rapidity and unparalleled eloquence”. This contradicts the narcissistic scientist the reader comes to know, portraying Walton as enamoured with corrupted perception. In contrast, the Creature is instantly intimidating due to his hulking figure, arousing fear due to his scars, proving that society’s judgements preclude the Creature from integrating which precipitates his consequent anger at mankind and violent behaviour, proving that it is societal expectations that is the catastrophe rather than creation.Similarly, Ishiguro and Shelley criticise society’s implementation and power of judgements through their presentation of class. Justine is executed because her testimony is compromised by her lowly position as there was an ingrained divide between the upper and lower classes, deriving from the medieval belief of the Great Chain of Being. Consequently, servants were not considered as ‘moral’ as those of the higher class. Comparatively, Robbins claims Ishiguro writes a commentary on class rather than bioconsumerism, arguing “the organ donation gulag, tucked away from public view and yet not kept a secret, has its obvious real-world counterpart in what we call class.” The societal judgments made based on class seem calculated, devoid of compassion and serve to underline how society reduces humans to lesser beings. The differentiating quality between humans and animals is said to be our ability to empathise, proving society to be inhumane as it is unable to empathise with the clones. Therefore, Kathy proves herself to be human in her caring nature for others, exemplified in “your nice shirt, you’ll get it all messed up”. Kathy and the Creature’s initial compassion elicit sympathy from the reader and their imperfections further humanise, make it easier to relate to them. Shelley and Ishiguro use this device to force readers into recognising the faults of the characters, thus reflecting those of society.Creation is not the catastrophe, but rather the introduction of sin is as it results in subsequent human vulnerability to societal corruption. Frankenstein’s life is mere reenacting of the original fall: Eve’s, from Milton’s Paradise Lost, from which Shelley drew inspiration evidenced through her epigraph quoting Adam; “Did I request thee, Maker…”. Frankenstein was the wealthy, intelligent son of a magistrate, ripe to excel as was Eve while in Eden. Yet, both fell due to hubris revealed in their desire to be worshipped. Hubris can be seen when Frankenstein says philosophers “ascend into the heavens… and acquire almost unlimited powers; they can command the thunders of heaven, mimic the earthquake”. His tone reflects reverence and awe, emphasising the extent to which Frankenstein associates knowledge with power and his lust for said power. The celestial imagery exhibited in ‘ascend’, ‘heavens’ and ‘thunders’ reveal Frankenstein’s wish for divine power and godly status. However, Frankenstein’s belief in elevation juxtaposes his reverence of knowledge because in suggesting that mere mortals can promote themselves to the position of gods, he is detracting the veneration associated with godly status because anyone with the access to the necessary knowledge would be able to do such. The contradictory concept reinforces the portrayal of Frankenstein’s overambitious nature being an unrealistic corrupting force, intimating that Frankenstein’s hubris damned him from the start. In Never Let Me Go, there is no such ‘fall’ for an individual, but rather of the consumerist society, where greed overtakes empathy and respect for life. The creation of the clones is the symbol of human’s natural instinct of self-preservation, an instinct that overrides all morals and critical ability to see at the bigger picture. This can be exemplified by the current state of our planet and the fact that the second largest polluting country (USA) will pull out of the Paris Agreement. If the human race cannot secure their future through the preservation of their habitat, then how can they be expected to care for those deemed to be alien? Due to the issue of duality, one could then advocate that as the Creature’s ties to Frankenstein mean he was also damned. Throughout the Creature’s life, he was denied the right to control his own life. Others dictated every action and Sherwin argues only “the final word and deed belong to the Creature”. Except, Sherwin contradicts himself, saying “Frankenstein vows to undo the scene of his creation”, introducing the idea of duality and that Frankenstein is thereby responsible for his creation. Their duality is revealed in the Creature’s love held for Frankenstein despite the torment that his actions caused; “my creator, the select specimen of all that is worthy of love and admiration among men”. Duality begs the question: if Frankenstein could not survive in society, did the Creature ever stand a chance?Furthermore, societal attitudes towards sexuality were extremely hypocritical. In Shelley’s Victorian society, sex was regarded with double standards between the genders. Significance is seen in these principles because it reveals judgements of society even oppress those accepted within its standards. In comparison, Never Let Me Go broadcasts a relaxed attitude towards sex. Ishiguro wrote in the wake of the Sexual Revolution which saw the normalisation the use of contraceptives, pornography, premarital sex, homosexuality and abortions. Hailsham’s progressive views are evident in their sex education which encouraged students to have healthy and safe sex; albeit discouraging the right of reproduction. The emotional connotations of sex to ‘normal’ people (eg. religious beliefs) are not seen as relevant to the clones, as they are not believed to have the emotional capacity. The guardians do not venture past the physical aspects of sex education and therefore Kathy’s sex drive is never explained to her, as they cannot entertain the thought she feels beyond primitive instinct. Kathy associates her “unnaturally strong” libido with being dirty, allowing her to conclude her “possible” who passed this trait on is not to be respected. Kathy’s conclusion that she came from someone typically of the lower social classes only reinforces that she is not welcome or able to fit in society. While feeling revulsion for her origins and sex drive, the desire to find a parental figure overrides this, shown in Kathy searching for her possible in porn magazines. Therefore, Kathy not only epitomises the damage of society’s callous disregard of the clones’ (lack of) emotions and their sex lives, but also the need for guidance and parenting due to children’s unworldliness.
Contrastingly, despite Frankenstein being born with greatest advantage, it is his sexuality which precipitates his downfall. Frankenstein’s “mother’s void is filled when he decides to create a being… this is the ultimate Oedipus complex because he takes on a material role and gives brith to another being.” Thus, subconsciously the Creature becomes the embodiment of Frankenstein’s own monster: his Oedipal urge. The Creature mainly appeared at midnight, the witching hour reflecting the unnatural state of Frankenstein’s urges, and the moon can always be seen when the Creature arrives because it represents Frankenstein’s mother’s presence. After the Creature killed Elizabeth he “plunged into the lake”. This is provocative because, to psychoanalysts, lakes symbolise wombs, from whence Frankenstein’s problems stem. When Frankenstein’s mother died, his interest moved to Elizabeth partially because she took on the motherly role and also because their union was his mother’s dying wish. Frankenstein’s oedipal complex is further seen in his dream where Elizabeth transforms into his mother’s rotting corpse, betraying that his feelings for Elizabeth are the manifestation of passion for his mother. Furthermore, Frankenstein’s language reflects his interpretation throughout the creation process. Initially, he viewed the corpse as his mother and therefore “beautiful”. As soon as the Creature was revitalised, proving not to be his mother, it quickly became a “wretch” or “demon”. In true Oedipal form, Frankenstein runs from his creation and pauses to look for the moon, searching for his mother’s presence. Frankenstein’s revulsion consumes him to the point where he considers suicide when in the middle of the lake. Here, he is regressing to the womb, as it is the closest a child can be to their mother. When the Creature demands an “Eve”, Frankenstein attempts to create a wife for him, but repeals this by dumping the body into water on which the moon is reflected, showing that his intent was only to revive his mother rather than create life. This disproves that creation was the catastrophe, but instead suggests that Frankenstein’s Oedipal motivations were the catastrophe due to their unnatural and catastrophic consequences.The missing identity of the creations is fundamental to their inability to be accepted into society, accentuated by their unknown beginning and shaped by the early abandonment of their creators. To them, creators represent understanding of their origins and consequently their place in society. This is embodied in Kathy’s assertion that finding your model would provide “some insight into who you were deep down”. Society’s rejection can be seen in their apathy to even identify the creations; the clones have no last names and the Creature is given no name at all. This issue is personified when Kathy introduces herself, using her job title as her identification, divulging that she believes that this, her name and age are the only true substance to her character. Robbin claims that “Kathy’s thoughts are preoccupied not with her imminent end, but with her professional success”, yet the novel focuses entirely on her thoughts, venturing farther than her job. This suggests that Kathy is so unsure of her position in society that she clings to the only identification that she has been given by society: her job. One could argue that society does not gift identities because they believe the clones to be too emotionally juvenile. Society trusts the clones enough to allow them to work, general understanding of the clones being similar to robots; able to complete a task but limited in their emotional capacity.  The importance in said lack of identity is also highlighted by how those hailing from Hailsham are consider each other family, creating their own identity. Kathy only becomes aware of its significance when another clone uses her memories to manipulate his own, revealing this was special and rare. Nevertheless, their sense of belonging is not entirely without society’s influence as even their language is corrupted. Words such as ‘completing’ or ‘the Exchanges’ are ones that those outside their world would not understand in the same contexts, exposing their unawareness of their indoctrination. These words normalise and justify society’s views and subconsciously lead the clones to feel the same. The power of language is equally paramount in Frankenstein because the Creature realises the power of words in reading Paradise Lost, which teaches him of the dangers that lie in words through Satan’s manipulation. However, Milton painted a controversially heroic Satan, causing accusations of Milton being of “the devil’s party without knowing it”, meaning the Creature would not have had the intellect to outwit Milton’s Satan, subverting his understanding of language. Yet this knowledge is not enough to stop him being indoctrinated, imitating Frankenstein, saying “I am a wretch”, thus proving the catastrophic effects of societal labelling. 

Ishiguro and Shelley present a poisonous society that facilitates the creation of a damnable identity for each character, which influences the irrevocable catastrophe: death. Society dictates the Creature and clones should be outcasts for their differences, labelling them before they can define themselves and therefore denying the rite of passage of growing, finding one’s individuality. If given the chance, it is possible the creations could have fitted into society, but the judgments cast on those ‘different’ meant society did not allow it. Consequently, these judgments evidence that creation cannot be the catastrophe in a world where far greater tragedies occur, including Justine’s execution based on shallow judgments or the rejection of the clones’ entire ‘species’ based on their origins. If creation itself was the catastrophe then the natural process of life would be far more aggrandised and would be yielded by scientists with such power to potentially ‘overturn the foundation of society and become the embodiment of chaos and confusion’. However, human nature dictates that can be achieved without creation, but rather society. In response, Shelley philosophically writes that “we are here to educate ourselves and that self-denial, and disappointment, and self-control, are a part of education” divulging that she wrote Frankenstein as reminder that while one should further their knowledge, there is always a line that should not be crossed, similarly to Ishiguro who warns of overreaching human limitations after scientists cloned Dolly the Sheep. The authors use the creations and their plights as a reflection of the flawed society they live in and so Frankenstein and Never Let Me Go are social commentaries, shown by the fact that the evils of the creations are induced by that of society. Therefore, it is impossible to conclude anything other than society being the true catastrophe that elicits catastrophic treatment through its corruptive influence.

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