Shelley’s Monster vs. Haggard’s Monster
Henry Rider Haggard’s She is the story about a man and his adopted son and their sojourn to a far away place inhabited by a tribe and their goddess-like ruler that shows her interest in the travelers. However, when reading this novel, one cannot help but experience déjà vu when the characters are described. The protagonist, Ludwig Horace Holly, is depicted as unfortunate looking, although smart and physically strong. After reading this description, images of characters past started playing in my mind. Haggard’s Holly and Shelley’s monster in Frankenstein are one in the same, when it comes to the physical and mental abilities.
The first way that Holly and the monster are described as being similar is when their physical appearance is discussed. In Shelley’s Frankenstein the monster is described as ugly beyond all reason. “Oh! No mortal could support the horror of that countenance. A mummy again endued with animation could not be so hideous as that wretch…it became a thing such as even Dante could not have conceived (Shelley 38).” The monster in Frankenstein is so ugly that the author goes as far to say that hell cannot even begin to describe his countenance. Horace Holly is depicted in a similar way. “Like Cain, I was branded-branded by nature with the stamp of abnormal ugliness…(Haggard 18).” Both the monster and Holly are described as unnaturally ugly and have to be compared to lowly places and beings just to encompass their ugliness to the reader. They are also both shunned by society due to their appearance (Haggard 18), (Shelley 78).
Another way that the monster and Holly are similar is their mental capacity. Shelley’s monster is just as smart as he is ugly. He teaches himself to read and learns English by listening to others speak. “By great application, however, and after having remained during the space of several revolutions of the moon in my hovel, I discovered the names that were given to some of the most familiar objects of discourse…I cannot describe the delight I felt when I learned the ideas appropriated to each of the sounds, and was able as yet to understand or apply them (Shelley 83).” Here the monster is described as brilliant and can learn a foreign language by solely hearing people speak it. Holly is depicted in a similar way. “I was gifted by nature with…considerable intellectual powers…(Haggard 18).” Here he states himself that he is smart ad also he teaches himself, like the monster, a foreign language “…so far as the Greek and Arabic went, were satisfactory. I learnt the latter language in order to help to teach it to him…(Haggard 31).” The monster and Holly both have the mental capacity to teach themselves something so complex, like a different language.
One last way that the monster and Holly favor is their abnormal strength and endurance. The monster is depicted as being able to endure extreme conditions. “I was not even of the same nature as man. I was more agile than they, and could subsist upon coarser diet; I bore the extremes of heat and cold with less injury to my frame; my stature far exceeded theirs (Shelley 90).” This is seen when he and Frankenstein are running through the arctic and the monster presses in with ease and Frankenstein must stop and rest (Shelley 162-165). Haggard’s Holly is also described as gifted in the strength department. “I was gifted by nature with iron and abnormal strength…(Haggard 18).” Both the monster and Holly encompass strength and endure circumstances that only they could handle. These two characters favor in many aspects, but mainly in their physical and mental qualities. However, one monster, Holly (Haggard 18), comes out on top.
Haggard, Henry R. She. New York: Penguin Classics, 2001. 18.31. Print
Shelley, Mary Wollstonecraft, and Susan J. Wolfson. Frankenstein. 2nd ed. United
States: Pearson Education, 2007. 38+. Print. Longman Cultural Edition.