The Invisible Man, by H. G. Wells – A Thesis

         invisible

This thesis was written as part of a MOOC I took. More info here.

          The Invisible Man is a lesson in how a person behaves when his insecurities and subsequent obsessions lead to the possession of a means, at any and all costs, of near-limitless power, and the pitfalls of such.

The Protagonist is Griffin, whose Albinism has made him conscious and insecure of his appearance to the greatest degree. Making a shift from Chemistry to Physics, he focuses particularly on the behavior of light. This behavior may subconsciously stem from his insecurities. He drives himself to understand how light travels through particles, and will go to any lengths to achieve his goal of making things completely invisible. He may subconsciously be wishing for a way to rid himself of his Albinism.

He robs his own father, who kills himself soon after. Griffin feels no remorse at this. He has no compulsions on experimenting on a Cat and putting it through suffering and disposing of it when done. He is impulsive and not prone to think through the circumstances his actions may beget, which is shown when he proceeds to turn himself invisible and realizes it’s not the glorious and powerful event he had imagined, but comes with its own unique set of troubles.

We see Griffin lock up a man in the man’s own house, rob and leave him without concern for his welfare. Furthermore, at Iping, he robs the Vicar, is irascible and prone to outbursts of violence towards his hosts. He comes across Kemp and decides to make him privy to his secrets and ideas of a “reign of Terror.” By now Griffin has lost all grip on realityHe cares not for right or wrong, but sees himself as an Overlord with Super Powers.

          The conclusion of Griffin being murdered by a mob shows us what happens to a person, whose insecurity-led madness goes too far. His scientific discovery destroys him instead of being a boon.

You can view the previously published theses here.

 

Advertisements

Dracula, by Bram Stoker – A Thesis

Bram-Stoker-Dracula-Novel-Cover

This thesis was written as part of a MOOC I took. More info here.

  Bram Stoker was Irish and was brought up as a Protestant in the Church of Ireland. Dracula is a powerful lesson that promotes Catholic teachings and tries to inculcate faith in the power of the Holy Bread and other Holy paraphernalia.

The Holy Wafer, referenced heavily in the book, is part of the religious ceremony of Mass in Church. Stoker’s referencing it as being among the sacred objects that shun Dracula points to his possible intent to direct people to go to Mass and partake of the Holy Bread. Other symbols such as Holy Water and the Crucifix are also representative of the Church and its power.

Central European folk beliefs considered Garlic a powerful ward against Vampires and could be why Stoker adopted Garlic as a major symbol.

Dracula is the embodiment of immortality in life, whereas Christian belief tells us that what is truly immortal is our soul and that the body is an inconsequential vessel; we must shun immortality in life so as to hope for immortality in the afterlife.

What Dracula gives to others is eternal life on Earth. As far as can be perceived in the book, there are no instances of anyone having died with a Vampire’s bite. What, then, is so bad about eternal life on Earth that the protagonists seem to despise and wish to be rid of? Could it be Christianity’s influence of the eternal soul being better than the eternal body that could be behind their purposeful actions?

Throughout the book the characters ask for God’s forgiveness or wish for deliverance from Evil. Harker’s journal – “There is something of a guiding purpose manifest throughout…. Mina says that perhaps we are the instruments of ultimate good.” A direct reference to “God’s will be done”.

All in all, Stoker’s religious background seems to have been expressed powerfully in Dracula, whether deliberate or not.

You can view the previously published theses here.

 

The Martian Chronicles, by Ray Bradbury – A Thesis

martian

This thesis was written as part of a MOOC I took. More info here.

The Martian Chronicles teaches us the lesson of history repeating itself, told through the tale of conquest of other lands, in this case, of Mars.

Bradbury mentions the impact of humans upon their own civilization on Earth, and what we would do if we were to find another land for the taking, the same way Cortez of Spain invaded Mexico.

In our present time and maybe the near future, we may not have imbibed well the lessons of the past, and now that we have incredible technology, we may very  well destroy ourselves in the same breath as achieve a utopian society. Like children who can’t understand what to do with new toys, we will end up destroying our own world and then do the same with other worlds if we’re not careful as a collective race to bring our impulses under control.

Bradbury paints the human race as immature and incapable of  dealing with technological advances in a rational manner that preferably benefits humanity as a whole. Instead, we can’t think beyond our own selfish motives, like, for example, the guy who sets up the hot dog stand for profit and out of a deep optimism, or the guy selling suitcases, also for profit, but out of a pessimistic world view.
We see that regardless of whether we fought with bows and arrows or fight in this day and age with Rockets and nuclear weapons, our Humanness will win out in the end, most likely to the detriment of our own race and world, and to a greater extent any other civilizations we come across.

You can view the previously published theses here.

 

The Left Hand of Darkness, by Ursula K. Le Guin – A Thesis

 {C07B4C16-A946-4064-8B55-06393D3E5B0A}Img100

This thesis was written as part of a MOOC I took. More info here.

The Left Hand of Darkness is about duality in different forms, whether it be the duality of male-female, cold-warmth, or light-dark.

This concept is referenced clearly in a scene where Genly Ai draws the yin-yang symbol, then explains it to Estraven as “It is yin and yang. Light is the left hand of darkness… how did it go? Light, dark. Fear, courage. Cold, warmth. Female, male. It is yourself, Therem. Both and one.” The first half of that statement “Light is the left hand of darkness” is part of a Gethen poem which goes “Light is the left hand of darkness, And darkness the right hand of light.  Two are one, life and death, lying, Together like lovers in kemmer, Like hands joined together, Like the end and the way.” The primary concept of Duality is that opposites complement each other, bring balance, and are an indivisible whole, inseperable from their parts.

The people of Gethen/Winter live with this duality in their individual bodies, and can physically manifest one or the other aspect of yin-yang — the male or female. Yet, they can maintain such a state only temporarily, before going back to their permanent state of neutrality. This is in stark contrast to humans, as, on a biological level, we actively seek for a mate to complete us.

Through the latter half of the novel we see that Ai is troubled constantly by the bitter cold of winter, whereas his companion Estraven seems unaffected by it. On the other hand, Ai is the stronger of the two, which Estraven admits to, in his diary. This shows how each of the two begin to overly manifest opposing characteristics when put together for long periods, and that this is a natural state of being. When Estraven goes in Kemmer during their march through the Ice, he is making their male-female interaction — and possible attraction — overt.

You can view the previously published theses here.

 

Fantasy and Science Fiction: The Human Mind, Our Modern World – Statement of Accomplishment

statementofaccomplishment

 

The 11-week-long course called ‘Fantasy and Science Fiction: The Human Mind, Our Modern World’ put out by The University of Michigan on Coursera ended a few weeks ago, and involved writing several theses, details of which I’ve written about here.

grade

I scored a respectable 66.7% on this course. 🙂

You can view the previously published theses here.

(I took screenshots of the statement and the two courses’ grades, which is probably why they look so tiny in this post.)

Herland, by Charlotte Perkins Gilman – A Thesis

herlandThis thesis was written as part of a MOOC I took. More info here.

The motif I found most different, yet substantial, is the author’s conscious/subconscious slotting of men into ‘types’, each represented by the 3 friends, how women react to each type, how men think of what women want, and how different it is from what women actually want.

The author casts Terry as a brash, outspoken, rakish sort of man, with a corresponding desire to ‘conquer’ a woman by force of will. He wishes to subjugate Alima, and to a greater extent all the women of Herland. He is greatly affected when he realizes that these women aren’t pushovers, but have qualities of mental and physical strength. He calls them names and basically implies that they are sexless creatures.

Contrast Terry with Jeff, who worships women and the ground they walk on. In his eyes, they can do no wrong. He is the quickest to adapt to the Herland way of life, and, indeed, from the trio of men he is the only one to stay back in Herland and make it his home, along with his wife, Celis.

In between these two extreme caricatures of men lies Van, who, with his background in Sociology has a more rational mind, and who also finds his two friends somewhat extreme in their respective ardor. Van, because of his attitude of treating women as equals, becomes more popular than the other men, as it seems the women of Herland respond to such an attitude. Not surprisingly, his and Ellador’s love is the strongest and deepest.

Throughout, the author projects her ideal male in Van, and shows the other two as being unappealing types of men. Indeed, Charlotte Perkins Gilman was a prominent sociologist (as was Van, in Herland), this during a time when her accomplishments were exceptional for women.

You can view the previously published theses here.

Frankenstein, by Mary Shelley – A Thesis

This thesis was written as part of a MOOC I took. More info here.

          Frankenstein is about the perils of unconstrained ambition and how it affects people to the detriment of themselves and their loved ones. In Frankenstein, the overly-ambitious people are represented by Victor Frankenstein and Robert Walton.

Walton wants to leave his mark on the world with an ambitious expedition to the North Pole. On this journey he encounters a worn-out Frankenstein who tells his tale.

Victor loses his mother at an early age and this would influence his future obsession with Life and Death. He begins work on reanimating the dead, playing God with his deeds. Working feverishly, he sacrifices a social life, his health, and losing touch with family for long periods. He finally brings to life his creation but is horrified by it and flees.

Victor learns of Williams’ death, and on his way home he spots the Monster and at once realizes it is the cause of Williams’ death. Yet, he stays quiet through all of Justine’s trials. Two people have died, but Victor is most concerned about avoiding being perceived a lunatic were he to tell all.

Victor finally meets the Monster who tells his tale of woe. Victor only acquiesces to the Monster’s request for a bride because it threatens to harm his loved ones, but goes back on his promise by destroying the half-finished bride, sending the Monster into frenzy. It kills Clerval and Elizabeth in revenge. Victor’s father dies of grief soon after. Victor desires revenge on the Monster even on his deathbed. The Monster visits Victor and mourns him, witnessed by Walton. Walton decides to turn around and return to England, not wanting to put his crew in further danger.

          Victor’s ambition led to horror, suffering the death of his beloved, a thirst for revenge, and his death. Walton is sobered by Victor’s tale and sacrifices his ambition to his and his crew’s safety.

You can view the previously published thesis Little Brother, by Cory Doctorow here.