15 October 2013
To Each His Own
In the two poems “One’s-Self I Sing” and “I Sign the Body Electric” by Walt Whitman and in the novel, Frankenstein, Mary Shelley depicts the human body as both unique and universal. Whitman describes in “One’s-Self I Sing,” the essence of the soul and individuality. In “I Sign Body Electric,” Whitman lists several physical features of the body to emphasize its many parts that come together as one. Lastly in the novel Frankenstein, Shelley illustrates Victor Frankenstein’s fascination with the human body and its unpredictable assets. The purity of the human body, both inside and out, is a unifying quality among society.
In the poem “One’s-Self I Sing,” Whitman stresses the importance of individuality but remains faithful to the idea of community. He keeps the poem very short, which forces the reader to feel the impact instantly. The speaker explains the Modern Man, as one who is unique but also one in union with his country. He expresses, “One’s-Self I sing, a simple separate person, Yet utter the word Democratic, the word en-Masse” (Whitman 633). Each person is different within and caries their own “muse,” but regardless is connected to others through democracy. Whitman’s word choice is very powerful; using word such as “passion, pulse, and power” (634). In today’s society it is essential to have individualism in congruence with nationalism. It encompasses the ultimate beauty of progression.
In the poem “I Sign the Body Electric,” Whitman embraces the beauty of the physical body as a connecting factor between people. There are many different parts and assets to the human body, as listed in the poem. The speaker explains, “All attitudes, all the shapeliness, all the belongings of my or your body or of any one’s body, male or female…” (Whitman 266). The body is overwhelming and intricate, with many parts that make it whole. It is made clear by the speaker that its complexities are what make it a commonality to all society. All men and women alike, share in the fortune of good health, which is ultimately the unity of their souls.
In the novel Frankenstein, Shelley highlights the complexity behind the science of the human body and its unpredictability. The main character Victor Frankenstein focuses his studies in college on anatomy-- the natural life and decay of the human body. He pieces together body parts to experiment building a man, but ultimately creates a “monster.” He is unaware of its capabilities, and is traumatized but its reality. He describes the body of the man as, “…I selected his features as beautiful. Beautiful! —Great God!” (Shelley 35). Once the monster is alive, he panics, “I beheld the wretch—the miserable monster whom I had created” (35). The human body is unpredictable. It is unique and can encompass a variety of unexpected traits. Victor’s fear of the body leads him closer to his family. Ultimately the complexity and unpredictability of the human body forces a sense of community.
Last week I attended a series of seven plays called, “It Happened in the Harbor.” It was a very enjoyable event that kept me interested until the second it ended. I always take the opportunity to observe the audience when I attend each event. I continue to be impressed by the diversity in the crowd, and the fact that there are so many people I do not know at this school. Everyone is cheerful and happy to be watching such wonderful literary works. All students, and adults are all very different, but are united for a common purpose.
Individuality is special quality that contributes to the strength of society. Although people are different, whether physically or from within, they remain a part of the community. It is important to embrace the beauty of the body, and use it to contribute to a positive lifestyle. Through the emphasis of positive individualism, people can grow as a whole.