In the literary works of Mary Shelly, Paul Lawrence Dunbar, and Countee Cullen, all of the characters experience some form of desire. In Shelly’s Frankenstein, Victor has a strong desire to learn more about the natural sciences, in Dunbar’s “Theology,” the speaker’s soul yearns to be to go to heaven, and in Cullen’s “Tableau,” two boys long to be together despite racial differences. Despite the fact that each character’s soul longs for something different, desire is still the driving factor of motivation in all of their lives.
From the very beginning of the novel, Shelly makes it clear that Victor is motivated by education and has a strong passion for learning about chemistry and other natural sciences. One example of his desire to learn is seen when, at the age of seventeen, Victor’s mother dies but he still leaves to attend a university rather than stay with his family. Another example of Victor’s desire for education is displayed when he states, “as a child, I had not been content with the results promised by modern professors of natural science” (Shelly 26). Victor’s dissatisfaction with the natural science field is what causes him to attend the university at Ingolstadt and pursue his education by attending meetings and lectures with science professors. Victor’s desire to learn more about science also leads him to create the “monster” that ends up killing his brother. From these examples it is clear that Victor is motivated by education and his strongest desire is to learn more about science.
In Dunbar’s “Theology,” the speaker’s soul yearns to go to heaven. This is made obvious in the first two lines that state, “There is a heaven, for ever, day by day, the upward longing of my soul doth tell me so.” As opposed to the desire for education in Frankenstein, the desire shown here is one for spiritual and religious satisfaction. In Cullen’s poem titled “Tableau,” the two boys long for racial harmony. The black boy and the white boy walk down the street “locked arm and arm” despite the fact that they know people are staring and talking about them. The two boys are “oblivious to look and word. They pass and see no wonder” and this shows that their desire for racial harmony is so strong that they are able to ignore the objection of others.
My choice to participate in service learning at Tunbridge Public Charter School has a lot to do with the theme of desire that is present in all three of these works. Since I started school at Loyola, I have been looking for an opportunity to give back to the community of Baltimore. At Tunbridge, I have been able to fulfill my desire to help the city by assisting with the afterschool program at this school. I work with the pre-K and kindergarten group and my responsibilities include helping prepare activities, monitoring behavior during playtime, and setting a good example. Although my role may seem small, I still feel like I am helping give back to the Baltimore community. I feel like I am making the jobs of the teachers a little easier and a little less hectic. Volunteering at Tunbridge also fulfills my desire to learn. The students at Tunbridge often remind me of lessons I learned when I was younger but tend not to think about now that I am older. The students remind me of how important it is to treat everyone with kindness and respect. It is ironic that these are the lessons I am supposed to be teaching them but they are the ones teaching me and helping me relearn the lessons that I often take for granted.