Munmun Masud

April 24th, 2011

Something Wicked This Way Comes: Technology and its Chilling Affect on Achieving the American Dream (Early 20th Century)

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Slide 1:   Title Page

Slide 2:   Technology and the American Dream

For many writers, technological developments have played a significant role in the decline of the American dream. This thought is perhaps controversial, as it counters the notion that America’s industrialization and technological change absorbed waves of immigrants and their children successfully into its growing middle class during the decades at the beginning of the 20th century. But it is also important to explore how it also served to exclude and disillusion.

Slide 3: During the 20th century, in order to attain the American dream, the following elements were necessary:

In the 20th century, the American dream came to be defined in the following manner: a standard family, decent profession, and most of all a content and (physically/emotionally)satisfied lifestyle.

Slide 4: …However

Many immigrants of the early 20th century were not able to attain much of this and believed that the machinery of society was being disrupted as it denied the necessities of life. Towards the end of the 19th century, people were expanding their knowledge and were on their way to modernity. However, the industrial revolution, which was what largely drove these changes, was a two-edged sword, and its new technology not only benefited individuals, but also disillusioned them. It was perhaps less obvious to people during this time, but also still important that long term social and technological changes were breaking down and altering the simple relations between man and nature.

Slide 5: Two Texts in Question

My thesis examines Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle and Anzia Yezierska’s story “The Fat of the Land,” as two examples of how technologies hinder the process of attaining the American Dream in opposition to conventional wisdom. I would like to discuss how technological developments have played a significant role in the decline of the American dream for immigrants in America during the early 20th century. While looking at these two fictions, my thesis tracks technology as it moves from emphasizing modern production machinery to modern consumer society, only to see the same pattern reemerging in the different periods.

Slide 6: The Jungle

Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle reveals the hardships of a poor working-class family’s struggle in Chicago, Illinois. The unanticipated side effects along with cruel intended effects of the new, transformative technologies affected the lives of immigrants in the era this novel was portrayed in. The intended effect applies to the truth that owners of the factory were well aware of how useful the impoverished unemployed were, as population increased as a result of immigration in the United States.

Slide 7: Pathway to disintegration

The muckraking novel portrays real life issues and aspects that occurred during the early 20th century. Those who wanted to achieve the American dream were hopeful and started to work in factories. Instead of a pathway that would lead to the dream, this period produced:

1. Dirty production based technology- work under strenuous and repulsive conditions, strict orders of assembly lines; the policy of attracting immigrants to make a too-large easy-to-manage labor pool and dealing with the physical evils of the “steam” era.

2. Physical oppression- as the nation deepened its technological base, old-fashioned artisan and craftsman became “deskilled” and replaced by specialized workers and engineers who used machines to replicate in minutes or hours work that would require the unskilled worker hours or days to complete. Increasing industrialization outpaced the supply of laborers able or willing to work in dangerous, low-paying, and dead-end jobs.

3. Cultural difference- the demand for low or unskilled jobs drove wages up and attracted waves of Irish, Italian, Polish, Russian, and Jewish immigrants who could earn more in America than in their homelands.

4. Social exclusion-immigrants were marginalized not because of culture, but due to new technology.

Slide 8: “Technology as the Enemy of Livelihood in “The Fat of the Land”

Anzia Yezierska’s “The Fat of the Land” is a short story from an immigrant woman’s perspective who escapes a past life, immigrates, and then lives ghettoized on the lower east side. When Hanneh Breineh breaks out of the ghetto, thanks to her children’s successes, she encounters not just the Anglo upper class prejudice but also a modern world—of new household technology and living arrangements. Here, Hanneh becomes excluded due to the overbearing position of technology. This stops her from pursuing the definitive American dream as this story illustrates a discomforting lifestyle derived from technological excess, and how it can disillusion an individual.

Slide 9: Consumption-based Technology

In the past, for many immigrants similar to Hanneh, there is a sense of exclusion due to the overbearing position of consumption based technology. The modern, clean and new technology is a kind of obstacle since it disallows one to live life the way one would ultimately desire. Many encountered the new kinds of consumer technologies that were being produced and tried to negotiate the social significances of them and the new world that was generally being produced. For many, there is no aspect of life left unaffected because over abundance of technology consumes life as one may begin to feel worthless if technology pursues most of their routine duties. For those who would feel this way, social marginalization occurs.

April 5th, 2011

Eisenberg and Technology

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The line, “Alphabet users have a hard time giving up their literate intuitions, for the adoption of writing systems transformed human thought” is provocative, yet very true. Specifically, when Eisenberg adds that “human consciousness, perceptions, relationships, society” and “values were different from what they were before this innovation.” The first line I quoted seems like it is euphemized. Eisenberg substitutes the words, “writing system” but I get the sense that the direct usage of the word technology is better suited in regards to his argument. When Eisenberg writes, “literate intuitions,” I get the sense that he is writing about a time before the existence of technology; a point of time when information was stored in our minds (mentally), not necessarily on technologies like paper, computer or other modes of (physical) storage.

It is in fact true that before technology, human consciousness and perceptions were different. However, I disagree to the extent Eisenberg elevates it to. It is implied that it isn’t easy for us to look back into our own pasts and recall the technological changes that helped form our own culture. Personally, this line produces a feeling of inferiority in my part. I feel compared to a piece of technology (i.e. a computer) that can locate information from prior decades in a matter of a few seconds, whereas for a human being, it would take several minutes, hours or even days. Perhaps the insinuation is correct; it necessarily is not easy for us, as opposed to technology. However, behind technology stands the entity who meticulously devise and develops it—human beings. Therefore, the technological changes that transform human thought are induced by human beings, not technology.

March 6th, 2011

A Meaningful Technic

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I have never come across the word, “technic” until today. With that said, I’m not too sure about the actual meaning of it, in regards to Mumford. To make things clear, Professor Buell did clarify an aspect of it’s meaning by stating “technics allowed prehumans in the process of hominization (becoming human) to stabilize and cohere their unconscious and their social relations.” Even though I am an English major, I’m not much of a diarist like Mr. Robinson Crusoe. And sorry Mr. Mumford, I don’t dance either. But what I do consider “meaningful” is the art of cooking—I’m not much of a cook, but I do enjoy it. I’m not too sure whether it can be identified as a “technic,” but as of now, apart from my job, school work and television, this is something I like to do.

I guess one can consider cooking to be a process of homonization. Like cows, we do not eat grass, and like carnivores we do not have the habit of eating raw meat. Therefore, cooking is in fact necessary for us human beings. In regards to “social relations,” I think cooking helps bring people together. For example, imagine your dining table at dinner, or when you have the monthly potluck occasion at your aunt’s humble abode. It does indeed stabilize and cohere our social relations with both family and friends.

Cooking is meaningful because it helps me de-stress. Here, I get the option to combine ingredients to my liking and be the only judge to my outcome. I do not get this opportunity at work, nor do I get to do this in school. Cooking is a process that takes three steps to complete. The first is to think about the ingredients, the second is to prepare, and the third is to indulge the end product. Crusoe always wrote about his day to day process in his journal, particularly his accomplishments and failures. But prior to this, I’m sure he always thought about what to write and what to exclude. Cooking is similar to this process as I also tend to think about what to incorporate or exclude from my recipe.  Similar to Crusoe, I either succeed or fail.

February 27th, 2011

The Arts, Justice and Reverence

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This short myth reveals the importance for technology. From what I can interpret, the most imperative and troubling section of the myth is about mankind and how at first, we needed technology to survive. In the myth, we read about the distribution of qualities, and skills (the trait to invent). The myth also exposes an idea about survival; we need the arts to invent in order to sustain livelihood. The fact that this quality was not distributed to all by Epimetheus further reveals that it is a diminutive importance that has great value.

In this myth, the origins of technology obviously began with the Gods as they needed this to craft their skills as well. For example, Prometheus sneaks into Hephaetus and Athene’s workshop where they “practise their favorite arts” and steals their “art of working by fire.” Stealing one form of art that helps produce technology to present to man sheds light on the importance of how much technology was and still is very much needed. From this myth, I understand that the internal logic of technology is the fact that it isn’t the only means of survival. Along with the skill to invent, everyone needs reverence and justice to live out technology.

The short reply “I should like them all to have a share; for cities cannot exist, if only a few share in the virtues, as in the arts” spoken by Zeus to Hermes reveals how he understands the internalization of mechanics and technology. He clearly states that he wants everyone to share the same values; therefore, all is at one level in reference to only reverence and justice. Because this was not done so when it came to the arts, man had dispersed. Zeus makes it clear that if man had an unequal distribution of a few virtues like the arts, “cities cannot exist.” Therefore, every man needs an equal sum of reverence and justice for continued existence.

Unfortunately, this does not apply to mankind in this day and age: not every one encompasses either or both qualities. Perhaps that’s exactly why machines such as computers, outlive us. Even after we expire, computers still hold our information, and to an extent, exist on our behalf even though we have passed. Machines such as life support (mechanical ventilations, inotropes, artificial pacemakers) keep us alive at our most destructive state. Perhaps Zeus was right? Along with mechanics, all of mankind needs reverence and justice to be distributed equally to maintain cities, and to an extent, survival.

February 8th, 2011

“Robots Evolve More ‘Natural’ Ways of Walking”

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“A new computer simulation by a Vermont researcher shows how robots might learn to walk better by starting on their bellies, the same way animals evolved.”

Link:  http://www.wired.com/gadgetlab/2011/01/walking-robots-gallery/

I find the above quote to be quite humorous in terms of the technological context to our historical/evolutionary past. The quote speaks of robots in such a manner that one cannot help but think of it as a real life, eating and breathing species. Historically, yes animals have evolved through time by gaining extra limbs, finger(s) and such. So, I find it hilarious that a “robot” is being referenced thusly. I mean, can’t the inventor just add components, it’s not like the robot itself and on its own will “generate” additional parts like a living organism—it will be executed by its creator. From my opinion, I think the project is a trial and error production, so, why is it even necessary to mention evolution? Robots do not evolve on their own; it requires an additional intellect outside of its own body to produce any kind of outcome.

November 19th, 2010

The Impression of Confinement

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The mood that best describes Edward Hopper’s famous painting, Nighthawks, is the impression of confinement. The waiter is shut in behind the square counter. The customers are confined within the four edges of the café and café Phillies itself, is confined by four edges of the corners of the street. This painting, which can easily be passed as a photograph captures both light and shadow. This café seems to be the only object that illuminates the environment—light is the only aspect of the painting that is not confined. Light breaks through the transparent café, escaping into the streets.

In this painting, the uniquely defined dwellers of the dark, the “nighthawks,” are of the white race. Therefore, the notion of freedom is completely relevant. Even if these individuals are people with freedom, are they free from the tightly confined corners of the café? Where is the café’s entrance/exit door? From my perspective, the people seem to be trapped, but the “white” light is definitely not, as it escapes the translucent glass walls.

This painting explicitly displays indoor luminosity, but also does not fail to light the outdoors of the street corner. This creates an illusion of daytime for only that specific street corner of which Phillies resides. Phillies is not the only hotspot in this painting, as there is another unknown setting placed directly across. It looks just as clean, furnished, and is also transparent. Because that store is unnamed, it is insignificant—therefore, unlighted.

Even though there are three men in this painting, they fail to overshadow the single woman. The men are dressed in dark or pale colors, and all are wearing a form of head gear. The only revealing parts of their body, other than their hands, are the men’s faces and that too, is shielded from light. These caps limit all types of beam to directly hit their face. The men have figured out a way to confine light in areas where they do not belong. The blackness of the men’s suit does not emit or reflect light, it rather absorbs it. These boring listless colors are outshined by the woman sporting the bright red dress, red hair and red lips. The vibrant red signifies color, and represents the flamboyance of light. Clearly, the woman represents a figure that does not want to settle in the shadow, in contrast to the men.

To express restriction, one can easily do what is captured in this painting. Because there are several people in a confined space, the notion of loneliness is invisible. In other words, along with four people, there exists light and an atmosphere that is uniformly shared. Where exists light, the issue of confinement is still noticeable. The city streets of Manhattan are lighted 24 hours of the day and accessible to people at all hours, much like café Phillies. Therefore, the 24 hour illuminated city streets too, are confined. Beyond the sidewalks are cross roads intended for cars, there are areas that say “no trespassing,” private locations, highways and of course the Hudson River. The above literal experiences contribute to confinement as the places mentioned are not accessible to most—it is all confined, therefore, people will always be limited whether in the dark or the brightest of places.

November 14th, 2010

Technology Obliterates Man

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A technocritic can focus on many elements that involve technology in F. Scott Fitzgerald’s, The Great Gatsby. However, to speak of technology as a whole, one specific element surpasses all else; technology obliterates man and his nature in The Great Gatsby.

First of all, we can view Jay Gatsby, George and Myrtle Wilson as victims of technology. Here, technology ultimately becomes the cause of their deaths as Myrtle is struck by an automobile, and both Gatsby and George are killed by the bullet of a gun. Both machines are perceived to be dangerous forms of technologies. From what I conclude, guns were invented to wound, or kill and cars are just as dangerous when driven recklessly.

Before leaving for the war, Gatsby lies to Daisy about his financial status—he is dishonest because he understands that wealth is a major factor for Daisy and feels pressure to lie during the process of courtship. Here, wealth suggests the ownership of technology. When one is wealthy, he possesses many forms of modern technology only the elite are privileged to have. Gatsby’s act of lying for Daisy to reciprocate his affection sheds light on the destruction of both his and Daisy’s nature. This reveals quite an important aspect; the fact that Gatsby needs to lie about his wealth reveals Daisy’s materialistic and money-oriented nature as well as Gatsby’s weakness. Gatsby is a weak character because he was unable to court Daisy on the basis of truth.

Gatsby reinvents himself. He changes his name from James Gatz to Jay Gatsby because he was disgusted by his background and poor lifestyle before his journey to become rich—filthy rich. This reinventing of the self displays yet another form of technology that did not improve, but further flawed Gatsby’s nature. He changed his name to appeal to his later status; however it did not fulfill the void. Therefore, Gatsby’s action of self reinvention was a complete failure because he did not achieve his goal, Daisy.

Tom Buchanan states that one of the modes behind Gatsby’s wealth is bootlegging. This “skill” requires technology such as transportation: trains, cars and even ships. This crime that Gatsby gained his abundant wealth from presents another demeaning characteristic in Gatsby’s nature. Perhaps Gatsby selected the easiest and fastest way possible to become rich for Daisy. After all, she was the focal point for his desire to achieve prosperity. In this novel, wealth is the definitive source that is crucially needed, as without this facet, one cannot advance in the technological field, which at the end, ultimately fails. Such technological fields include Gatsby’s mansion, his parties, and his newly reinvented self—all of which have failed to bring him the person he truly longed for, Daisy.

November 6th, 2010

PRESENTATION on 11/01/10: Measuring Technology on the Gender Scale

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Is technology gendered?

*As late as the Middle Ages, the useful arts were identified as much with women as with men, and women were engaged in almost all aspects of technological practice.

*Women were not only identified as spinners or weavers, but also metalworkers and goldsmiths.

*Conclusion: THE TOTALITY OF THE USEFUL ARTS BELONGED TO NEITHER DOMAIN.

SO WHAT HAPPENED?!

Women steadily lost ground to men for many reasons, several include:

– Politicized guild regulation

– New social legislation

– Extended market

– Increasing separation of public and private spheres

– The diminished importance of household production

– Exclusion of women from educational institutions

– And so much more…

Technology became the modern measure of elite masculine identity

*Technology came into use to describe the realm of the useful arts, reshaped by science, and from the start the idea of technology became the modern measure of elite masculine identity.

*Technological development assumed its modern appearance as a “traditionally masculine” enterprise.

*This enterprise is defined as a mythic male affair against women, who would forever have to struggle to reassert even a semblance of their former role in the useful arts.

*Since technology was defined from the outset as masculine, women were excluded and whatever women did, was not included.

Again, is technology gendered?!

*According to Autumn Stanley, “the stereotypes separating woman and technology,” legitimized the displacement of women and rendered their continuing contributions invisible.

*This left a permanent masculine imprint on trademark technological achievements.

*Ivan Illich (Austrian Philosopher) argued that technological activities as well as specific tools were traditionally divided between gendered domains.

*The male gender dominates technology, and plays the role of “director” by assigning women their technological duties. Basically, men lead and women follow.

*Therefore, yes. Technology is gendered as certain achievements were stamped masculine and, certain achievements were stamped feminine.

*The Distaff was primarily a woman’s tool. It was emblematic not only of women’s work but of the useful arts and productive labor in general.

*The following technologies were traditionally identified with men: Hunting, Warfare, Toolmaking, Metalworking, Ornamental arts associated with religion and state power

Gender and Technology in 2010

*Through the lack of female participation, technology becomes a given male characteristic.

*With women being culturally isolated, technology it self becomes an extension of masculinity within society—this furthers the gap between males and females in technology.

*This extension of male power in the form of technology dictates the direction of technology in the future.

*With males already in the technological field, they create new and improved technology designed from a male perspective.

*This creates a surplus of technologies that suit men and their ideas.

*For example, the video game industry today still caters to a predominately male population. This is because video games have always been associated with males. Men both play and create most of the video games with the industry.

*“Male power over technology is both a prudent of and reinforcement for their power in society. Even at the household level, every time a man repairs the plumbing or a sewing machine while a woman watches, a communication about her helplessness and inferiority is made” (Gill & Grint).

*In this way females are ostracized by technology on two levels.

–First, they are not expected to use technology which leads them to stay away from it.

–Second, by staying away from it they come to a mutual understanding that technology is a male concept.

*In turn they teach this concept to all women generation’s after them who in turn teach it to their children until it becomes a cultural norm with no clear origin.

*The technology of separate work with “women’s work” such as housekeeping, cooking, and caring for children is present even today. The domain of the kitchen is associated with femininity while the grill is a masculine art form of cooking. Even cars are sectioned into gender areas with fast sports cars being naturally masculine and mini van’s being associated with “soccer Mom’s.

*The idea is that various technologies are being gendered everywhere even if the technologies are similar in their usage.

FRANKENSTEIN

“In the early medieval West, a time of significant advance in technology, men consciously sought to imitate their male god—master craftsman of the universe by assuming a new God-like posture.” (The Religion of Technology)

Did Victor try to achieve this?

YES !

* In chapter 3, Victor states:

“So much has been done, exclaimed the soul of Frankenstein—more, far more, will I achieve; treading in the steps already marked, I will pioneer a new way, explore unknown powers, and unfold to the world the deepest mysteries of creation.”

*Above, Victor relates to Walton how his chemistry professor, M. Waldman, ignited in him an uncontainable desire to gain knowledge of the secret of life. Victor is driven by his passion, unable to control it. Further, the glorious, assertive quality of his statement foreshadows the fact that Victor’s passion will not be tempered by any consideration of the possible horrific consequences of his search for knowledge.

* To an extent, Victor will always be regarded as “God-like” for creating his product.

Portrayal of Women in Frankenstein

*Being a woman herself, Shelly portrayed the female gender in her novel as being very passive.

*The female characters suffered, and abruptly died as a consequence.

*Caroline Beaufort: self-sacrificing mother who dies taking care of her adopted daughter, Elizabeth

*Justine: despite her innocence, she is executed for murder

*Female Monster: Aborted even before she was given life as Victor fears yet another monster who may not be under his control

*Elizabeth Lavenza: murdered by the hands of Victor’s creation

*One can argue that Shelley renders her female characters so passive and subjects them to such ill treatment in order to concentrate on the obsessive and destructive behavior that Victor and the monster demonstrate.

How Gendered Technology Becomes an Issue in Frankenstein

*Many critics assumed that Frankenstein was written by Percy Shelly, Mary’s husband.

“It was hard for nineteenth-century critics (and many later ones through the mid-twentieth century) to believe that the young Mary was that good. And literary critics for a long time credited the accomplishment essentially to Percy’s influence and help…” (Preface).

*Some critics also argued this novel is the product of her insanity.

*Shelly was criticized because she broke out of the traditional norm.

*She no longer was the audience of man (not even her husband’s). By writing Frankenstein, she ultimately made everyone her audience.

*Finally, a woman took the lead!

November 6th, 2010

“Dieve—but I’m glad I’m not a hog!”

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“The shriek was followed by another, louder and yet more agonizing—for once started upon that journey, the hog never came back: at the top of the wheel he was shunted off upon a trolley, and went sailing down the room. And meantime another was swung up, and went sailing down the room, and another, until there was a double line of them, each dangling by a foot and kicking in frenzy—and squealing…There were high squeals and low squeals, grunts, and wails of agony…Meantime, heedless of all these things, the men upon the floor were going about their work. Neither squeals of hogs nor tears of visitors made any difference to them; one by one they hooked up the hogs, and one by one with a swift stroke they slit their throats. There was a long line of hogs, with squeals and lifeblood ebbing away together; until at last each started again, and vanished with a splash into a huge vat of boiling water. It was all so very businesslike that one watched it fascinated. It was porkmaking by machinery, porkmaking by applied mathematics. And yet somehow the most matter-of-fact person could not help thinking of the pigs; they were so innocent, they came so very trustingly and they were so very human in their protests—and so perfectly within their rights! They had done nothing to deserve it; and it was adding insult to injury…It was like some horrible crime committed in a dungeon, all unseen and unheeded, buried out of sight and of memory…—it did its cruel will with him, as if his wishes, his feelings, had simply no existence at all; it cut his throat and watched him gasp out of his life. And now was one to believe that there was nowhere a god of hogs, to whom this hog personality was precious, to whom these hog squeals and agonies had a meaning? Who would take this hog into his arms and comfort him, reward him for his work well done, and show him the meaning of his sacrifice? Perhaps some glimpse of all this was in the thoughts of our humble-minded Jurgis, as he turned to go on with the rest of the party, and muttered: “Dieve—but I’m glad I’m not a hog!” (Chapter 3, page 35-36)

This rather long “quote” is just one of the many disturbing passages in Upton Sinclair’s, The Jungle. This quote best represents a theme of suffrage, which is vividly repetitive throughout the book. From my perspective, I certainly believe that Sinclair incorporated this passage to juxtapose these animals in the factories to the poor and working class people of Chicago—for example, Jurgis Rudkus and his twelve-member family. The disturbing aspect of this passage is the fact that the animals must undergo numerous strategic paths (“knocker,” “killing bed,” “butcher”) for the worst outcome—death. This is similar to the “pathway” Jurgis and his family lived, as they too underwent numerous adversities, illnesses, and deaths.

Sinclair tactically incorporated such a passage and that too, towards the very beginning of the book to inform the reader how harshly these animals were killed and packaged. Deliberately, or not, Sinclair is stating the obvious—the person behind the machines are also in the position of the animals being killed, both butcher and animal are victims. The animal is the victim of the butcher, and the butcher is the victim of capitalism. Hence, the strong have and always will prey on the weak.

The quote, “for once started upon that journey, the hog never came back,” resembles immigrants who hear about America and are relentless to achieve something in a land where money comes in abundance, or so they assume. These assumptions are derived from success stories passed on from the relatives or simple town dwellers. And so, the person becomes entangled in this web of lies and achieves to become a successful American. The immigrant begins his journey to America, facing problems along the way, and plenty more after establishing a life in America. In comparison to the hog, the immigrant cannot manage to go back to wherever he has come from because he is impoverished, does not have enough money, or has simply died from countless complications. The quote, “at the top of the wheel he was shunted off upon a trolley, and went sailing down the room. And meantime another was swung up, and went sailing down the room, and another,” portrays the lives of many immigrants, that is swiftly spiraling downwards. And as mentioned, one by one, each immigrant is becoming the victim of unfair work wages, hours and mistreatment.

The following quote, “they were so innocent, they came so very trustingly and they were so very human in their protests—and so perfectly within their rights! They had done nothing to deserve it; and it was adding insult to injury” can also be related to the lives of the newly migrated immigrants. Jurgis and his family were “innocent.” However, each member was taken advantage of in the workforce. His wife, Ona was raped by her manager. Even though Teta Elzbieta was old, she was given multiple jobs that required hard labor (managing heavy equipment, scrubbing floors) for low wage. Marija was a strong woman; therefore, she was hired to do a man’s job for half the price. Soon after, her husband dies at work, being swarmed with rats and so, Marija ultimately resorts to prostitution. Clearly, none of the characters have done anything to “deserve” such hardships. Ultimately, these occurrences did in fact add “insult to injury.”

“Meantime, heedless of all these things, the men upon the floor were going about their work. Neither squeals of hogs nor tears of visitors made any difference to them; one by one they hooked up the hogs, and one by one with a swift stroke they slit their throats.” This portion of the quote is a direct parallel of the relationship between the factory worker and his superintendent. The superintendent is a wealthy man, he his ruthless and will take away the worker’s job in an instant because he is powerful. The worker’s “tears” will not make “any difference” to him. The slitting of the hog’s throat is analogous to a superintendent firing a worker.

Sinclair writes, “It was all so very businesslike that one watched it fascinated. It was porkmaking by machinery, porkmaking by applied mathematics.” The term “businesslike” can be referred to politics and the very business mentality of it. Jurgis, of course was associated with politics when he assisted a corrupt political boss, Mike Scully. That too consisted of applied mathematics as he was a member of the political scheme, undermining the efforts of the union while being paid with corrupt money.

The last portion of the quote is quite ironic. Jurgis states, “but I’m glad I’m not a hog!” In reality, most immigrants similar to Jurgis were just like the “hog” because of the dangers faced at work and home. The hog/immigrant is presumably seen as innocent, naïve, and frail. Therefore, such characteristics only progressed them in becoming the prey of a capitalist society.

October 29th, 2010

The Creator of One’s Own Destruction: Victor Frankenstein

Posted by munmunmasud in Uncategorized

Victor Frankenstein is an intelligent individual who becomes overwhelmed by his cowardice traits. If Victor mentally was a strong being, he would not allow himself to become the victim of his own creation: this is an aspect we have not yet encountered in any of our texts. We all can agree that Victor Frankenstein is the epitome of the clichéd term “the mad scientist” as he was able to construct a creature wholeheartedly with the use of chemicals and deceased body parts. However, we can also agree that Victor Frankenstein is a spineless creator as ultimately he is frightened by his own product. Therefore, representing a “new sort of” creator, Victor becomes the creator of his own destruction.

Both Robinson Crusoe and Victor are skillful and become experts within their field. Crusoe learns to adapt in a stranded island by creating necessities as well as luxuries for survival and Victor creates for the need to accomplish a never-ending desire—to discover the secret of life. Robinson “creates” for survival, and Victor unknowingly “creates” his impending doom. This life and death contrast is significant because it sheds light on Victor and his irrational morals; he constructs a monster, he becomes terrified and thus abandons his creation, he allows many deaths to occur, and finally, he dies himself.

We have not yet encountered a protagonist that vows to seek revenge on his own creation. Prospero did not seek vengeance on his magical abilities, he only utilized it to obtain an apology from the ones who did him wrong. Crusoe did not seek revenge on any of his productions because his art was limited to materialistic things, such as cultivation.

This “new sort of” creator that Victor embodies correlates with several non-humanistic qualities that allows him to be as selfish, secretive, and most of all, retaining detestation for the monster—the exact opposite of what his product longed for since “birth.” Typically, an invention or creation is assembled to make one’s or others’ life easy. In this case, this monster was created for only experimental purposes.

In regards to mechanical creations, the monster is not so different from a clock. He too was composed of “inanimate” materials and objects that come to life, similar to the hands of a clock that move repetitively in a circle. Time is something we cannot control, it will progress, whether we want it or not. The monster is similar to a clock because he was not under anyone’s control. Thus, the monster was able to progress. The chase between Victor and the monster can be seen as the chase between time and death. A clock is a utensil that records the time of death, and the monster was the utensil that recorded Victor’s time of death, simply because he was there.

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