Understanding Literature 101.16
16 October 2013
Think Before You Judge
Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, Paul Lawrence Dunbar’s “Theology,” Countee Cullen’s “Tableau,” and the discussion on Urban Education held in McGuire Hall all teach the common message of avoiding prejudgments and the need for social justice. Specifically, Shelley introduces the idea of Victor Frankenstein’s scary invention of a human monster. The monster is incapable of social relations because people immediately run away once they see him since he is so frightening. In Dunbar’s poem, social relations are unbalanced. He speaks of the evil in people, which therefore determines there is surely a place called hell. Yet he states that his soul will go to heaven. Cullen writes of an account where a black boy and white boy walk together and shows the people’s immediate judgments and reactions to this scene. In the discussion of Urban Education, a professor from Marquette University in Milwaukee spoke of the social injustice that needs to be placed in city schools. She spoke of a specific field experience that clearly outlined the need to suspend judgment before your perspectives.
In Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, the inability for Victor’s monster to interact with people is captured perfectly. As a subhuman creation, this monster clearly shows the search for human connection. People’s strong prejudgment’s, based solely on the monster’s appearance, are what separate it from involvement in society. In chapter eleven, Frankenstein’s monster speaks of the cruelty he endures from people and their reactions to him. As the monster arrives at a village, he enters a dwelling and before he could step in, “the children shrieked, and one of the women fainted” (74). Frankenstein’s monster writes of reactions based on solely his appearance, “the whole village was roused; some fled, some attacked me, until grievously bruised by stones and many other kinds of missile weapons, I escaped to the open country and fearfully took refuge in a low hovel, quite bare” (74). It is explained that there is no actual interaction between the townspeople and the monster, except for sight. Human qualities are evitable because the monster shows his emotion with the usage of the adjective: “fearfully.” He was shunned, and just as any human that clearly has a sorrowful impact.
Dunbar’s “Theology,” recalls of the imbalance of social relations. There is a clear separation in terms of his view of himself and others. He claims that there must be both a heaven and a hell. Although his relationship with his “neighbors,” (taken into theological terms as the people around him) is unknown, there is a judgment of them and it is that they are not good and therefore be placed into hell. Differentially, he will be placed into heaven. Similarly, God will judge them as well, and there is a state of hell (according to Dunbar), because “If there were not, where would my neighbours go?”
Countee Cullen’s “Tableau,” is a clear depiction of social judgment in the depiction of segregation. The powerful message encrypted with this poem shows that although society judges and frowns upon their friendship, they do not care and show it as part of nature: pure and virtuous. There is an obvious prejudgment in the relationship between two boys: one is white and the other black. With this difference, societal judgments and their disapproval of their friendship are evident. Cullen explains, “the dark folk stare/ And here the fair folk talk.” Yet Cullen compares them to natural elements. The comparison of the two boys comes hand in hand with the approval of night and day. Furthermore, just as thunder and lightening come together, so do the two boys.
During Wednesday’s event on Urban Education, the discussion was centered on the necessary skills teachers are required to have in urban schools. She spoke of one of her student’s field experiences. This young lady was placed in a city school in Milwaukee. Her class was predominantly African American with the exception of two Asian twin brothers and one white boy named Michael. The children had tremendously bad behavior: they argued with the teacher, screamed swear words and less than half the class did their homework. In terms of teaching, it was evident that the teachers were aware of races and the professor stressed the importance of suspending judgment before your perspectives. There is a need for becoming a better “cultural anthropologist” and argued the need for “critical caring.” The ability to connect to student and their families is extremely important because it helps rid the prejudgment and focus on the common mission of educating the children.
The poems, novel and discussion all stress the importance of suspending judgment for the common outcome of honoring social justice. The relations between people are far too special to be polluted by preconceived ideas and false interpretations. People need to shed these misconceptions and focus on the establishment of a better society.