Perhaps this title is somewhat misleading. I haven’t created entirely a new self per say. Instead, a self that is new because of its liberation from the bounds and restraints from an older identity and version. When I set out to read Frankenstein by Mary Shelley, my goal was to inform myself of her literary power as a newly declared English Major. You have to read the majority of the classics, right? What I didn’t expect to happen was a deeply resonating connection to form: one separate from the majority of themes and symbols scholars take from this text. Knowledge, secrecy, family; are the themes that your senior year English teacher would force you to write a five-paragraph essay on. What I soon became witness to or as I buried my nose into my small and intimate copy was a tale that reflected my own recent events and forced interrogations. As I have newly been liberated from a two-year-long relationship, graduated from my sophomore year of college, been forced to reckon with changes that have broken up my intense love or perhaps just reliance on routine; these are the moments my body has been forced to confront. I saw this creation of a new self in Frankenstein’s own creation, but I also saw the results of a creation that was created poorly. Frankenstein’s creation was created with the motive of scientific discovery and coldness that cannot be mixed with the fragility of humanity, desire, or simply the worldly feeling of validity in a human-created society. A society that regardless of our own monstrosities, cannot be escaped from. While I have not created a new self, a new being, I have been forced to evolve into a body that sometimes feels foreign. This foreignness is something that they do not talk about when they warn you of heartbreak or the task of growing old.
They do not warn you that when you start to understand the systems that govern our human-based society that includes intense oppression and the violent power structures from those that are wealthy: they do not tell you that when with the education you liberate your questions of morality, that when your liberation comes you will feel like you have moved into a new body.
They do not tell you that when someone you love becomes the enemy, grabs your affection by its horns, and smashes it out of a window you thought was gale-force winds proof, they do not tell you what your new, post-relationship body will feel like. They do not tell you that as you grow old and learn how to drive comfortably on the interstate that your newly adopted adult muscles will feel oh so different from your ones developed in youth. They do not tell you that in your new body, your old one will feel foreign occasionally.
“Even where the affections are not strongly moved by any superior excellence, the companions of our childhood always possess a certain power over our minds which hardly any later friend can obtain. They know our infantine dispositions, which, however, they may be afterwards modified, are never eradicated; and they can judge our actions with more certain conclusions as to the integrity of our motives”(202).
And now I am realizing that even more than my childhood friend, my childhood self is becoming a witness to this new being. Do I like it? I think so. I know my infantine dispositions are rooted in myself and even my new body will inherit them. But I also know that those dispositions have been plagued by the events and extraordinary moments that have happened all so recently. To me, that is exceptionally powerful, and at least for right now, feels okay. I feel okay as Frankenstein right now because my new creation is still part of me. I am still part of it. I have created a new self but my old self has not been forgotten. I didn’t create this new beginning out of scientific spite, I created or rather evolved into it because I had to. I don’t think late, contingent, creations will turn into Frankenstein’s monstrosity (or what is usually described as monstrous, although one could debate the validity of that declaration). I think I have been ready for this evolution for a long time.