There are three readings for this week, the second half of Frankenstein, “I Sing the Body Electric” and “One’s Self I Sing”, both by Walt Whitman. While the former depicts the loneliness one experiences without human connection, the poems celebrate the human soul and its associated passion and liveliness. The latter and the former form a vivid contrast showing two extremes.
The poem, “I Sing the Body Electric” is written in free verse. It not just lists but pin points every minute part and emotion of the body. Such detailed depictions not only means that the speaker has scrutinized the body inside out, but also means the speaker is very dedicated in what he does. One may become tired half way through, but the energy, the passion, and the speaker’s desire to celebrate the human soul power him to a complete description of the human body. It is also important to know that these descriptions do not pertain to just a person, but to all sexualities and all ages. The speaker includes the entire human race and celebrates the similarities we share. At the end of the poem, Whitman specifically points out that “there are not the parts and poems of the body only, but of the soul,/O I say now these are the soul”. As a result, the speaker connects the tangible, hence the body, to the spirit, our soul.
Whereas “I Sing the Body Electric” is inclusive, Whitman’s another poem, “One’s Self I Sing” is written from a rather personal perspective yet still in free verse. It seems that the speaker strives to achieve a balance between him and the public. This can be seen through the words “separate person” and “En-Masse”. In fact, the speaker uses the personal pronoun, I, alternatively and frequently after he has described something that pertains to everyone. He compares himself to bigger pictures such as equality, life, power, and freedom.
Mary Shelley’s novel, Frankenstein, cleverly forms a contrast and narrates what happens when the human soul is in isolation and it is not connected to the public. Thorough out the second half of the book, the monster is in desperate search of human interaction. He desires so much that he is just as emotionally invested and involved in his neighbors’ lives as they are. He shows compassion, sympathy, and care. However, it is only after he has been violently and brutally rejected by humans, that he progresses to become an evil being to revenge. The monster has quite a lot if not all the human parts Whitman has listed in “I Sing the Body Electric”. Whitman says that these parts are the very components of the soul. Yet, Agatha, Sophie, De Lacey, and Felix fail to recognize this connection. Only if they have realized, perhaps, the novel would have had a different ending. Only if humans have allowed the monster to establish a relationship between him and the public, perhaps, the novel would have had a different ending.