Of Prejudice In Frankenstein And Mary Shelley's Lusus Naturae?
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“It is an absolute human certainty that no one can know his own beauty or perceive a sense of his own worth until it has been reflected back to him in the mirror of another loving, caring human being,” John Joseph Powell. From Margaret Atwood’s Lusus Naturae, to Mary Shelley's Frankenstein, and Dan Barry’s The Lost Children of Tuam, each story more tragic than the last, all share a common thread of prejudice. Be it societal, ethical, or religious, prejudices are the driving force behind the creation of what many regard as “monsters”. This constant label of shame isolates its victims and inflicts self-perception of inferiority, which in turn compels a hardening of one’s disposition towards society.
Because of her rare affliction, the main character of Margaret Atwood’s Lusus Naturae experiences a complete disconnect from not only her family, but also the world around her. The disdain directed towards her was palpable. She notes that her cat “was the only living creature who wanted to be close to me,” and even then she questions whether her cat was drawn to her or the smell of “old dried-up blood” (Atwood 3) that was a result of her uncommon diet. Furthermore, she goes so far as to characterize her own mother’s relationship to her “as if to a hangnail, a wart” (Atwood 3). Her own self worth is obliterated by the prevailing sense of shame that she believes she has brought to her family. However, under these conditions she resolves to “harden [herself] to loneliness,” (Atwood 4) and detaches from society altogether, making her home in the woods like an apparition among the trees.
Her place as an outcast to society affords her new insight to the rationale of the common folk. Consequently, after her quarrel with the man in the woods she reflected, “When demons are required someone will always be found to supply the part, and whether you step forward or are pushed is all the same in the end” (Atwood 5). This observation illustrates the impact that societal prejudices have had on her way of thinking, and emphasizes how she grew to fit the role that had been prescribed to her. In other words, people find comfort in the belief that monsters are the stuff of legends when in reality they are bred out of one’s own