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The Interpretation of Nick Dear’s Play “Frankenstein”

Updated: Jan 5, 2018

Derived from the perspective of speech act, this paper sheds light on the portrayal of fluid dominated position between frankenstein and its monster in the new adapted play in 2010.


VICTOR: You must understand – the work is hard –

……

CREATURE: You are a king! The King of science! Build me a woman. Please! A bride.

VICTOR: A bride should be beautiful. A bride should have pretty eyes, and shining hair. She should not be hideous. She should be as lovely as possible.

CREATURE: Oh yes!

VICTOR: I will not repeat my mistakes. We can only go forward. We can never go back.

CREATURE: Master, work your magic once more, I beg you!


Unlike in the original Frankenstein where the scientist does experiments out of his curiosity for life, science and nature, Victor in this play takes it as a way to prove his intelligence, denoting his pride and arrogance. He shows his characteristics with an assertive tone, which can be exemplified by his speech act, such as “must”, “should”, “can only” and “can never”. These choices of words signify his purpose of ordering, and also reveal his self-indulgence of being distinguished in science.


Victor, in a superior position, also reminds his creature of the potential danger of making a female creature—“We can only go forward. We can never go back.” The monster, on the other hand, expresses his admiration towards Victor with his speech act as well. He refers Victor as “a king”, “the king of science” and “master”. These illustrate his respect and admiration on Victor’s talent in science. At the same time, his word choice unveils that the monster puts himself in an inferior position, like a poorly abandoned child who is begging his father-like figure for caring and empathy. Thus, at the beginning of their relationship, Victor “exercises this power of withholding satisfaction to its full extent” (Kotze, 2000, p59).


However, a transformation of domination appears at the end of this play. The following conversation provides one of the clues:

MONSTER: Oh, Victor. Will you forgive me my cruelty? Please forgive me. I am driven on, I cannot stop. The moon draws me on. The solitary moon! We can only go forward, we cannot go back. – Master! Drink! It’s good wine. Drink.

……

Victor (very weakly): I don’t know what love is.

CREATURE: I will teach you!

……

VICTOR: Every chance I had of love, I threw away. Every shred of human warmth, I cut to pieces. Hatred is what I understand. Nothingness. Despair. I am finished. – But you give me purpose. You, I desire. Go on. Walk on. You must be destroyed.

CREATURE: Good boy. That’s the spirit! Bring my miserable line to an end! Up! Up!


After the monster kills Victor’s wife Elizabeth, he is chased after by Victor to the North Pole. Different from the book in which Victor dies in a boat, this play continues the competition between Victor and his monster. During this scene, however, Victor is too weak to argue with the creature, since the chasing wears out his energy and good health. Until here, the monster still communicate with Victor in a good manner.


For example, he still calls Victor “master”; his ‘please’ in “please forgive me” also discloses his politeness. Interestingly, during this sequence, Victor drops his pride and admits his own weaknesses—“I don’t know what love is.” This is when the monster is empowered in this relationship, since he responds “I will teach you”. The word ‘teach’ places the monster in a higher status in term of the ability of love, which signifies his strength.


Afterwards, Victor even shows his reliance on this creature, claiming that the monster gives him the reason of being finished. In face of this, the creature encourages him “good boy”, which is comparable to a previous scene where “Victor collapses in his (his father’s) arms” and his father comforts him by saying “You are safe, boy” (Capancioni and Erle, 2011, p138). Considering the fact that Victor abandons the monster out of fear, and does not shoulder the responsibility as a ‘parent’, the monster instead replaces Victor’s role as a father and becomes the patriarch in their relationship.


Furthermore, “We can only go forward. We cannot go back.” These sentences announced by the monster are almost the same as the ones said by Victor before. It also emphasizes the close relationship between them because of their influence as well as interdependence on one another.


#Frankenstein #linguistic #Corpus #Domination #Fluidity

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