I. Climate Change and Frankenstein
II. Radically Different Attitudes toward Nonhuman Nature
III. The Creature as the Embodiment of Elemental Forces
IV. Species Questions and the Possibility of Human Extinction
V. Toward the Peaceful Coexistence Between Humans and Nonhumans
This paper addresses issues raised by the recent critical approaches exemplified by Gillen D’Arcy Wood’s and David Higgins’ recent readings of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein in relation to the eruption of Mount Tambora in 1815. Rather than directly connecting Frankenstein to the Tambora eruption and its climatic aftermath, however, this paper reads Frankenstein in the broader context of the Anthropocene and explores the interconnection between humans and nonhuman nature and the vulnerability of human beings within the Earth’s ecosystem. Its central focus is on the issues of elemental forces and species questions raised in Frankenstein. Employing an anthropocentric perspective on the relationship between humans and nonhuman nature as portrayed in the novel permits us to reconsider the vulnerable status of humankind as one species among many on earth. I read Frankenstein’s Creature as embodying the destructive power of elemental forces that brings into high relief the vulnerability of humans and the possibility of human extinction. The Creature’s body, composed of heterogeneous parts, reveals the affinity between human and nonhuman bodies. Pointing to the mutual response-ability between Walton and the Creature, the paper suggests that nature, humans must acknowledge the agency of nonhuman nature and respond to it without violence. Shelley’s Frankenstein is a novel that warns us of the disastrous effects of anthropocentrism on nonhuman nature and the Earth’s ecosystem as a whole that includes humans.
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