Thursday, September 4, 2014

Melodrama in Romanticism - Frankenstein

Besides popular literatures such as Harry Potter and Twilight series, some classics actually have elements of melodrama too. Frankenstein, a typical romantic piece, portrays lots of melodrama themes. In order to talk about this relationship we need to address the relation between romanticism and melodrama.

As we have mentioned in class, romanticism is a period of literature revolution, which emphasizes nature, imagination, emotion, and liberation of one’s own self. Many of these are also characteristics of melodrama. Imagination and emotion form the dramatic and sarcastic part, while melodrama “…has been and remains also a rhetoric of liberation.” (Marc Bouquet, Harry Potter, the War against Evil, and the Melodramatization of Public culture, P178)

Frankenstein is a scientific fiction, which involves two main characters: Victor Frankenstein and the monster. Although they are not dressed in black hat and white hat, it is clear that monster is the evil and the Frankenstein is the victim in the early settings. As Victor describes, “I saw—with shut eyes, but acute mental vision—I saw the pale student of unhallowed arts kneeling beside the thing he had put together. I saw the hideous phantasm of a man stretched out, and then, on the working of some powerful engine, show signs of life and stir with an uneasy, half-vital motion. Frightful must it be, for supremely frightful would be the effect of any human endeavor to mock the stupendous mechanism of the Creator of the world.” This “good versus bad” theme is thus shown. It is also arguable that the monster is actually the victimized hero, and he is not an evil figure but being victimized by Victor Frankenstein. The monster said, “I, the miserable and the abandoned, am an abortion, to be spurned at, and kicked, and trampled on.” Later his true identity is gradually revealed, “I have love in me the likes of which you can scarcely imagine and rage the likes of which you would not believe. If I cannot satisfy the one, I will indulge the other”, and the monster makes the point that is it not truly his intention to hurt people. Like melodrama, in Frankenstein, “…much of the dramatic action has to do with being misunderstood or victimized.” (Marc Bouquet, Harry Potter, the War against Evil, and the Melodramatization of Public culture, P179) In addition, in many scenes, the displaying of exaggerated emotion (mainly grief in this passage), is pushing this piece towards a melodrama direction.

However, Frankenstein is somewhat different from being completely melodrama. It is more serious and seems to lack the humorous/ sarcastic part of the melodrama themes. Therefore, the passage is not completely dependent on melodramatic rhetoric, although it is also really hard to separate and throw away all the melodramatic components completely. Nonetheless, it contains some melodramatic aspects.

Melodrama actually can appear in different kinds of literatures, because it resembles many aspects of human nature. 

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