For months, Victor travels with his friend, Henry Clerval, trying to clear his mind on the mission set by his creature. While everything they visit is beautiful, he is unable to find comfort while knowing that his beloved are being threatened. Finally, he says farewell to his friend and goes off to a house on an island, and surrounded by nature and solitude, begins his work on building a companion for his creature.
Yet then, in the middle of his work, Victor is struck by the fact that the union of the new partner and creature might not go as smoothly as they anticipate, and that even more, if it did, that they might reproduce and multiply the threat to humanity. Terrified by the idea, he destroys his work in progress, right under the very eyes of his creature. Betrayed and maddened, the creature promises for him pain beyond death, and departs.
And such pain, the creature does cause. Upon leaving his labratory and traveling across the sea, Victor finds Clerval a lifeless body. After barely recovering from weeks of grieved illness, Victor marries Elizabeth in an attempt to make her happy, yet she too is strangled to death on her wedding night. His father soon follows in grief.
Having lost all those who are precious to him, he pursues the creature in his despair, vowing never to rest before it is destroyed. This fruitless journey has, then, led him to Robert Walton.
Robert is, while terrified by the story to some degree, more fascinated by the existance of the supernatural creature and its formation than anything else. But the excitement is dampened by Victor’s fading health and their being trapped in the ice. The crews, fearful for their lives, demand Robert to return if the ice melts, and Victor’s short burst of inspiring speech fails to actually convince them.
The ice then does allow them passage, and in the returning journey, Victor tells Robert that his duty to humanity is greater than his duty to his creation’s happiness, and that he does not regret his choice. He states that the creature should die because it had commited murder on his dearest friends, but that he leaves the choice to Robert. With that, he passes away.
Then, left alone, Robert discovers the creature in the cabin of the ship, grieving Victor’s death. The creature exclaims upon query that it is in fact himself who suffered the most from the murders he committed–in the loss of the humanity and the wisdom he had once possessed, his own misery in his knowledge that he could never lay his hands on the satisfaction he had sought in his every action, and most of all, in the ceaseless pang of guilt on all the innocent deaths he had caused. And in this misery, the creature no longer regrets to die, of which he announces that he would. With that, it disappears into the world of icy, desolate nature.
“But it is true that I am a wretch. I have murdered the lovely and the helpless; I have strangled the innocent as they slept, and grasped to death his throat who never injured me or any other living thing. I have devoted my creator, the select speciment of all that is worthy of love and admiration among men, to misery; I have pursued him even to that irremediable ruin. There he lies, white and cold in death. You hate me; but your abhorrence cannot equal that with which I regard myself. I look on the hands which executed the deed; I think on the heart in which the imagination of it was conceived, and long for the moment when these hands will meet my eyes, when that imagination will haunt my thoughts no more.” (Shelley, 165)
The passage reveals the full extent of not only the awareness the creature has on his own actions, but the amount of guilt he feels on all the crimes that he had committed. He said, before that, that he had lost his humanity in his murders, but it seems, at least in this moment of reflection, that the creature is very human in his feelings indeed. It leaves the reader to wonder, however, if this is enough to excuse him. The creature’s dissatisfaction that lies under his deeds is Victor’s responsibility–but does that make him responsible for Clerval and Elizabeth’s death as well? How much of it is nature, and how much of it is nurture? The question applies both on the murder, and the guilt by which the creature considers it.
I would like to explore in my paper why environmental sustainability is far from being achieved on the global level, when the critical demand for it in the 21st century has long since been acknowledged.
The many books in the library on the environment are far more than enough to provide evidence on the damage of the environment. As demonstrated in the book by the Worldwatch Institute, the ocean ecosystems are damaged by overfishing and pollution, the consumption of fossil fuels are higher than ever, the deserts are expanding, and climate change is shifting deeper into the irreversible. As humans themselves are animals and mortal inhabitants of the planet Earth, these changes are irreversibly linked to survival. Any other issues on humanity’s advancement can only be dwarfed by the immediate threat of mankind disappearing over the course of a few generations.
Yet this is nothing new. Humans have been modifying their environment since their very existence, from domestication to other forms of life to modifications of the environment. And despite common beliefs, the history of recognition on environmental pollution dates back to more than two thousand years ago. In the book, Foundations of Environmental Sustainability by Larry L. Rockwood, Ronald E. Stewart, and Thomas Dietz, the authors express that India constructed the first policy on environmental protection around 300 B. C. What’s more, there now are tens of thousands of organizations working to improve the conditions of the environment, and nearly all governments have laws on sustainability—not to mention international institutions.
Why have we, then, as mankind, made little progress? Despite of the advance on technological efficiency, the consumption of fossil energy keeps rising, harvests keep declining, and diseases threaten human mortality. Despite the apparent rise in numbers of laws and regulations regarding sustainability, water quality keeps dropping, the area of rainforests keeps decreasing, and more and more species become endangered by day. Whatever we’re doing isn’t working, and there are two possibilities—are we doing something wrong, or are we not doing enough in the first place?
One of the books I discovered while researching in the library was The Psychology of Environmental Problems, by Deborah Du Nann Winter and Susan M. Koger. With it, I became curious about the role of the psychology behind everyone from the individual person to the global community that is deterring the progress of what is so obviously important. What keeps individuals from taking action to sustain their world when the threat to their and their children’s survival is at stake, and what keeps the governments and communities from finding out that sustainable development is more profitable in the long run, in comparison to draining owned resources in short-sighted efforts to lift the economy?
The book by Winter and Koger focuses on the more general level of psychology; of the response of humanity to environmental pollution as a group, a community, providing a little more weight on government policies. My work will differ from the book in two ways: the first in that I will focus slightly more on the individual, inner workings of psychology behind the actions that they, or we, make every day; and the second in that I will focus less on the immediately following reactions to the results of environmental pollution, and more on the lack of action for sustainability. In other words, the focus and therefore the originality will lie on the psychology that directly keeps individuals from acting for environmental sustainability.
Along with providing specific evidence on the reasons from books and studies on why sustainability is important, I will use psychology as the secondary focus within the topic. I will analyze the reasons behind the problem, and possibly find some solutions, with the interactions of the two topics. This will provide a strong basis for the issue, providing the readers with a deeper understanding on the reasons that create the modern environmental state, and thereby give them a better chance of grasping and solving the ultimate problem.
Costanza, Robert, Ida Kubiszewski. Creating a Sustainable and Desirable Future: Insights from 45 Global Thought Leaders. Singapore: World Scientific Publishing, 2014.
Falkenmark, Malin. Water and Sustainability: A Reappraisal. Environment, 50(2):5-16. 2008.
Juniper, Tony. What Has Nature Ever Done for Us? New Mexico: Synergetic Press, 2013.
Rockwood, Larry L., Ronald E. Stewart, and Thomas Dietz. Foundations of Environmental Sustainability. New York: Oxford University Press, 2008.
The Worldwatch Institute. State of the World 2015: Confronting Hidden Threats to Sustainability. Washington D.C.: Island Press, 2015.
Winter, Deborah D. N., Susan M. Koger. The Psychology of Environmental Problems. New Jersey: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, 2004.
The first question to arise upon hearing of “Marx in Soho,” a play by Howard Zinn, would naturally be this: why is there a play of Karl Marx and his ideas at this time? It has been over a hundred and fifty years after the Communist Manifesto, and with the dictatorship in the name of communism displayed in Russia, China and North Korea, the general public does not regard Marx with a positive light.
This did not stop Bob Weick, in his act as Karl Marx, in fiercely defending the revolutionary socialist. Alone on the stage, he paced around in a heated one-sided discussion on Marx’s ideas. It was a one-man play; Weick was the only one on the stage, and he was the only one who talked throughout the whole show. There was no evident involvement of the audience, aside from showing them simple props of books and articles, and shouting out questions with no expected contributions.
This forced the focus onto Marx’s ideas. His personal life and context of the time were used only to provide challenges and support to his arguments. This was also aligned to Weick’s argument that the ideas are separate from the person—that personal flaws are not necessarily linked to the arguments presented by the person, and the time in which the ideas were spawned does not necessary limit them to the era. In other words, that ideas are immortal.
The setup of the stage, which consisted only of simple props, two chairs and a table, and a stool in a corner, is also notable in its simplicity. The empty chair and the scarf placed upon it alluded to the second character—Marx’s wife, Jenny—but only enough to enforce Marx’s quality as a round, sympathetic character. His costume was not very dramatic at all, either, and none of the colors were very vivid. The simplicity not only assisted the focus on the ideas rather than the setting or the story, but also made the play more relatable for the present. There were few details to make the audience belittle the play into a theoretical story of a time gone past, nor was the modernity of it forced enough to be unconvincing.
What more could prove the immediate relevance to Marx’s ideas, theories and his criticisms than the sheer consecutive size of the audience that enabled Weick to perform the same show, over 250 times so far? Every detail of the show was designed to be relatable—to convince the audience that Marx and his writings are still relevant to this time, and are crucial for insightful searches into the system of modern world. And on this mark, it was definitely successful—the people walked out of the play wondering why, and how, the problems stated by a man who had lived nearly two hundred years ago, are still far from solved in the twenty-first century.
All the way from Boiling Springs—a fifteen-minute drive from campus—to the corner of High Street and Hanover had the beets traveled into our hands. The fresh dirt clinging onto the lower stems couldn’t hide the vivid blush of the stalks and roots, and after carefully picking out five of them, we took a moment to get to know the farmer smiling behind the basketfuls of fresh farm produce at the “Farmers on the Square” in downtown Carlisle.
The stand sold a hundred-percent certified organic produce only, stated the farmer proudly upon query. Dickinson’s people had been one of the founding members of the farm, and that was why she came to the market to sell her produce—to stay closer to the college that had funded her passion. It was, according to her, also a comfortable market overall. Having experienced the relaxed, pleasant atmosphere created by the small, colorful stands of local farmers, we had little trouble connecting with her on the matter.
After a brief, hurried visit through the crowd to pick the sauce that best resembled Tabasco, and a fruitless search for lettuce heads with thirty minutes to the market’s closing, we settled for a mix of kale and chard upon coming across a table displaying piles and basketfuls of fresh greens.
When, after the purchase, asked the motivation for farming, the farmer looked flustered and thought for a while before stating: “Because I like to!” While it was a rather simple answer, no other reason had stood out to her further or brighter than joy in the activity itself, and having seen her delight in assisting everyone who passed by, we were not surprised. It was a pleasure to hear that she dedicated her time to a profession that had many benefits to the local community.
Squinting at the cluster of jalapenos in the basket to pick out the best, we queried on what type of people typically came to the market—and more specifically, to the booth. The response was just as simple and straightforward as the previous: “Hungry people.” After the short burst of merriment from everyone who was listening, he explained that it was true: people hungry for fresh organic food made up the majority of the customers. It was common for a shopper to want to have a genuine relationship with the farmer, he said, since this ensured that they knew exactly where the produce was being farmed. And that, indeed, was what made the trip to the farmer’s market in downtown Carlisle memorable to the last.