This essay sample on Crossing Emotional Boundaries provides all necessary basic information on this matter, including the most common “for and against” arguments. Below are the introduction, body and conclusion parts of this essay.
“Much Gothic writing is preoccupied with the punishment of transgression. ” By comparing Frankenstein with at least one other Gothic work you have studied, discuss ways in which writers of the Gothic tradition explore the consequences of crossing boundaries From the outset, it is very pertinent to note the use of the word ‘consequences’ in this question.
Indeed, ‘crossing boundaries’ can be perfectly benign and harmless.
Also worth considering is the fact that ‘crossing boundaries’ can either be treated in a geographical (and literal) sense – simply a person or object moving from one designated area to another – (e. . Walton’s expedition to the Arctic) or, instead, as a personal ‘crossing’ of a figurative ‘boundary’ (e. g. the Creature’s negative change in attitude towards the world). Let us first look at this point of emotional shifts.
With regards to ‘consequence’ Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein (1831) offers a strong insight of the Creature’s descent into “malignity” (this word is interestingly repeated throughout the text). The Creature ‘crosses’ this theoretical introspective ‘boundary’ essentially as a result of social exclusion. Yet, it is not simply emotional ‘punishment’ for the Creature per se.
Victor also feels the effects of the Creature’s decline having provided the impetus behind his animosity and ‘malignant’ mindset. Victor feels equally culpable for the deaths of those who are close to him – Elizabeth, William, Justine, Henry etc.
He symbolically ‘aborts’ his Creature by effectively ‘casting him aside’. Victor giving life, of course, can obviously be linked to the idea that Victor succeeds in usurping the role of the mother (one might treat this as ‘transgression’ – “to go beyond or overstep” the “limit”1 of gender role).
Furthermore, what this reciprocated ‘punishment’ also offers us is support for the notion that the two characters are in fact the same person (it has frequently been suggested that the Creature maintains the role of a double – or doppelgi? nger – to Victor). Bram Stoker’s Dracula (1897) as well offers fertile ground for this essay. The men of the novel do also ‘cross’ a metaphorical emotional ‘boundary’ in the final chapters of the text. It is a poignantly-governed change, essentially being brought upon them as a consequence of the horrific transformation (indeed ‘transgression’) of Lucy Westenra into an un-Dead.
Of course, this is combined with an apparent requirement to put an end to Count Dracula’s malice regardless. This, then, leads us onto the notion of ‘crossing’ literal geographical ‘boundaries’. The men are required to travel from West to East. This issue is touched on elsewhere in the Gothic – the East effectively treated as barbarous, evil, uncivilised etc. in distinct contrast with its antithesis: the good, industrialised, sophisticated West. They venture to Transylvania in an exploit to finish off the Count once and for all. It is in fact successful (bar the death of Quincy Morris).
These two examples do certainly outline how the two types of ‘crossing’ – literal/geographical and metaphorical/emotional – are comparable. We may, however, look at one other issue; namely whether or not there is a distinction between heroic (and indeed prudent) ‘crossings’, and weak (imprudent) ‘crossings’. Victor Frankenstein is, on the whole, a weak character (who in turn makes a series of misjudgements). This form of characterisation may indeed be a device utilised by Shelley to rationalise the negative outcome of the novel.
In contrast, the men of Dracula are gallant, heroic, level-headed etc. ho, compliant to this rule, ultimately generate a positive outcome. Turning back to Frankenstein, we might look at one of these cases of imprudence; namely both Victor’s and Walton’s strive for knowledge (“one man’s life or death were but a small price to pay for the acquirement of knowledge which I sought”). Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s Rime of the Ancient Mariner (1798) also concerns an ominous expedition, in a similar manner to Walton. They attempt to reach new heights; to essentially ‘break the rules’ (the ‘boundaries’ of man’s extents) – to ‘transgress’.
This does, in fact, strike synonymy with the subject in the novel’s title (The Modern Prometheus). The Greek Titan, Prometheus, ‘transgressed’ beyond an acceptable ‘boundary’ – steeling the secret of fire from the Gods. Interestingly enough, Prometheus’ ‘punishment’ consisted of having a great eagle eat his liver every day whilst it continually replaced itself. The ‘strife for knowledge’ and the Prometheus allegory can be linked with Victor’s ‘crossing’ of a geographical ‘boundary’. Shelley presents him as moving away from the archetypal family life to proceed with his endeavours in the university town of Ingolstadt.
This is, of course, where the Creature is created. One might say that the Creature – and the ‘consequences’ that arise from his creation – are nothing more than a result of Victor’s ‘crossing’ of the social ‘boundary’ into the – adventurous and hectic – life of the Ingolstadt academic. Shelley’s message, it would seem, is that were one to ‘cross boundaries’ feebly without prudence or reason; or to ‘transgress’ – to ‘punch above one’s weight’ – we would be indeed be ‘punished’ as a ‘consequence’. Stoker’s Dracula, in turn, shows us how a prudent or gallant ‘crossing’ can elicit a positive outcome.
The nature of character entails the nature of ‘consequence’. Moving on, William Beckford’s Vathek (1786) contains an interesting sequence in which the Princess Nouronihar ventures into an unknown region – attracted by a glowing ball of light. Instead of ‘punishment’, however, Beckford offers us the juxtaposition of fear, uncertainty and uneasiness with a sense of grandeur and affluence. It is, nevertheless, a rather mysterious scene.
Unbeknownst to what was about to come, the Princess overhears: “For what monarch are these torched kindled, this bath prepared, and these habilments”… second voice answered, “They are for the charming daughter of the emir Fakreddin” Now, it is debatable whether or not we can consider this to be ‘punishment’. It is certainly weird and uncanny – and would most definitely elicit a sense of uneasiness in Beckford’s character. It is a very eccentric and bizarre outcome of a ‘crossing’; the reference to the Princess makes us contemplate that the most pertinent issue is not in fact her ‘crossing’ of the literal geographic ‘boundary’, but instead a ‘boundary’ from the knowing to unknowing.
It is as though the Princess has forgotten aspects of her life – like she has moved from a state of full consciousness to amnesia. Regardless of such interpretations, these strange storylines do certainly succeed in providing the Gothic with its enticing quality. To summarise, then, the range of ‘consequences’ as a result of ‘crossing boundaries’, as well as interpretations of the intrinsic meaning of this, are far reaching. There are metaphorical, emotional ‘crossings’ of ‘boundaries’, which may, or may not, be compatible with literal, geographical ‘crossings’.
In addition, it would appear to be the case that the ‘consequences’ – positive or negative – of such endeavours are seemingly contingent on the nature of said ‘crossing’ – whether it is heroic or feeble, prudent or imprudent. The scene from Vathek simply succeeds in demonstrating the ambiguity of the Gothic. The mysterious and strange manifestations of it demonstrate fully how the genre can both confuse and fascinate the reader.