Beauty be considered attractive in one part of the

Beauty
is not always skin deep but the modern society has set some really unbelievable
expectations out of beauty standards. These odd standards set for beauty not
only make it challenging for the average person to meet the said standards, it
also places immense pressure on people who have trouble dealing with their appearances.

Beauty and ugliness are social constructs since they have no absolute standing
and only depend upon the relative importance placed by people on them. Since
these standards are all contextual, therefore, a trait which might be
considered attractive in one part of the world might not exactly be considered
beautiful in other parts of the world. That being said, it is important to
consider that modern media, literature and art has also contributed to the
pictures of beauty and standards set for beauty (Gigante, 2000). Themes like “black” have been set
aside for ugliness and therefore all 15th century art depicting
Jesus Christ in Churches has depicted him as a white man with blond hair. While
this might not be his exact heritage or depict the way he actually looked,
people have a “beautiful” standard to look up to for God. Beauty is subjective
as well and classical works of literature often offer insight on many of the
said subject (Gigante, 2007).

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Frankenstein
by Mary Shelly is one of the earliest works of fiction that have focused on
horror and the grotesque and therefore explored themes that have never been
explored before so freely. It was one of the first books that depicted the
reactionary nature of “ugliness” imposed on a person. It basically dwells on
the premise that all of Frankenstein monster’s actions can be interpreted as
reactions on him being chased by society and disgusted by society on only the
basis of his looks and external appearance. The monster has no real say in the
way he was born or the looks he was given, and in that aspect, he can almost be
considered human. Human being also have no such choice in these matters (Gigante¸2000). That being said,
it is also equally important to consider what choices have led to human beings
considering “ugliness” and the factors that are associated with the said
ugliness as well.  We see that ugliness
is basically “change” and “difference”. Whenever people are confronted with
change in looks or appearances that they have not encountered before, they are
prone to consider it as hostile and perhaps it is part of the human nature. But
the complex structure of human society and the communities we have established
require more than just the human “fight-or-flight” reflex. These human beings
require more effort in their acceptance of physical traits to be truly
classified as beings with a higher social order than mere animals.

Through
the story of Frankenstein, Mary Shelly has exposed the modern society and what
it stands for. She has chosen the vessel of Frankenstein’s monster to depict
the harshness of society in accepting difference and even though the monster
was a living, conscious being with the capability of intelligent thought and
making good/bad choices, the hate imposed by people on him because of his
different appearance led him to a very dark place (Gigante, 2007). He felt cornered because of the hate
felt by him due to his looks and thus was forced to react in anger. This anger
was not at people but a self-disgust that was caused by the reactions of these
people. The actions of the monster in the story can be back-tracked to his
simple want of human interaction and love (Raj, 2015).

The
themes explored in this story are the contrast of inner beauty and outer
beauty. While we would like that Shelly wanted to say that outer beauty does
not necessarily mean inner beauty, we see both contrasts. The monster is
hideous on the outside but all the guy ever wanted was somebody to love and
cherish and it would be wrong to hold it against him. So at this stage, his
inner beauty is not because of his outer beauty but rather an independent
virtue. On the other hand, in the cases of Elizabeth, Safire, Felix and Agatha,
all of these people are inherently good people and beautiful on the outside too
(Hatch, 2008). Therefore,
Mary Shelly did not place a contrast here between Frankenstein and these
characters. But what she has tried to highlight through the story is how the
actions of society can mold even the simplest of people into committing
horrendous crimes and being evil. Society itself creates its outcasts and
decides its deviants, but when the classification is as shallow as being based
on mere looks, then the classification is the cause of the said deviancy in the
“monster”.

It
is also interesting to note that Mary Shelly has named the creature “monster” and
in the course of the story, the context of the meaning changes. Even the writer
calls the creature monster on the basis of his looks initially, his gaunt face,
and the pale deathly expression of the creature is also quite telling (Bernatchez, 2009). But
eventually, even the actions of the creature justify him being monstrous and
this brings up an ethical dilemma (Hatch,
2008). Is it okay to discriminate when the said discrimination proves
right in the end, or must be always give people the benefit of the doubt before
deciding on their deviancy. It is yet another topic that needs to be explored
to truly understand the problems associated with this kind of human
interaction.

Conclusion

 

The
human society has set some very harsh standards for beauty for itself and quite
often we see people being marginalized on the basis of the said standards. In
order to meet better perspectives on the said subject, it is important to have
clarity in regards to what the society considers deviant and whether facial appearances
alone can truly tell about the inner beauty or ugliness associated with a
person. Furthermore, the essay also highlights the importance of being
indiscriminate to prevent the outliers of society falling towards the dark end
of the spectrum.

 

References

Gigante,
D. (2000). Facing the ugly: The case of Frankenstein. Elh, 67(2),
565-587.

Hatch,
J. C. (2008). Disruptive affects: shame, disgust, and sympathy in
Frankenstein. European Romantic Review, 19(1), 33-49.

Gigante,
D. (2007). Facing the Ugly: The Case of Frankenstein. Mary Shelley’s
Frankenstein, 67, 125.

Raj, A.

C. (2014) Frankenstein and Twilight: The Changing Perceptions of the Monster.

Bernatchez,
J. (2009). Monstrosity, Suffering, Subjectivity, and Sympathetic Community in
Frankenstein and” The Structure of Torture”. Science Fiction
Studies, 205-216.