A Literary Analysis On Man’s Proclivity For Evil

Karen Barna
4 min readApr 12, 2024
Colin Clive and Boris Karloff in the film "Frankenstein" (1931).

“In defiance of nature, and in pursuit of his own will, Frankenstein strives to master the life force. He animates the dead, only to be repelled by the creature he has awakened.” ~Sue Grand, The Reproduction of Evil (2000)

Dr. Frankenstein cannot encounter his creation through love and compassion, rather he abandons his creation as soon as it is brought to life. As a result, Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein is an elucidation of love repudiated that turns to hatred. It is the humiliation that transmutes tenderness into vengeance. They will become one another’s sole object of desire. But there is a meeting which is no meeting at all. They do not, and cannot know one another.

The interpretation of Shelley’s novel has resounding connections and implications to pre-colonial and colonial American studies regarding the politics of identification with enslavement of blacks by white people. Where there were obvious signs of non-recognition of a shared humanity in black enslavement: “If, part of what I am are the enigmatic traces of others,” I am enjoined to take responsibility and have concern for the welfare of these not yet fully identified beings (both animals and all people of all race and color) as being a part of a shared biologically animated sentient earthly species endowed by the laws of human reproduction.

It is no coincidence Colin Clive is presented on the screen wearing similar attire as Adolf Hitler. The creator of the Third Reich as the Nazi Party are the watermark stains of the “malevolent transformation” postulated by Sullivan (1953). It is described as the hardening of anti-social patterns within the personality structure.

Frankenstein reminds me of the all too human desire to transcend the limits of our earthly condition through the familiar invocation of the evil and purely sinister. Sometimes these invocations to evil masquerade as the benevolent and inspiring gentlemen or gentlewomen, poised and demure in beauty, style, and grace. As in Oscar Wilde’s “Portrait of Dorian Gray,” the wealthy descendant of a rich but cruel man helps to create the malevolent transformation that takes place in Dorian’s personality with a little push from Lord Henry Wotton. As a result, Dorian becomes a serial killer after causing the untimely death of Sybil Vane, Basil Hallward and it is suggested that he played a hand in killing other innocent characters not mentioned in the novel.

As in Shelly’s Frankenstein, man’s proclivity for evil resounds. After all, how benevolent a medical cause and a testament to the commitment towards a better human race than but to offer a cure to man in overcoming the possibility of his own death and vices through the application of medicine? Similar to Johann Wolfgang von Goethe’s Faust tragedy, the scholarly man has become bored and is intoxicated with his own fantasies of greatness in victory over the physics of this world. So much so that he commands these phantasmagorical fantasies into reality. Today, growing fetuses outside the womb in plastic bags and synthetically created amniotic fluid and simultaneously slaughtering them through pre-mature death from a lack of decisive medical knowledge. Elon Musk’s monkey brain-chips for machine-to-brain interfaces push us ever closer to superior bionic human capabilities that incorporate computer and wireless technologies. Not to mention, the subsequent inhumane torture and death of these same monkeys used in his experiments. Man advances his goals for greatness on the backs of the vulnerable and marginalized. He appears to be intent on the restoration of life, but also seems to bathe his victories in the corpses of the dead. After all, what is death in a failed biological experiment but just another wrong answer and a chance to kill again?

“What is the real nature of the Creature’s “ugliness?” … The Creature is an awakened corpse with eyes to see him, a voice with which to command him, limbs with which to pursue him … The Creature is the howling embodiment of loss .. the Creature must look into the eyes of his maker’s repugnance … Longing to be ushered into the human community, and forever outside that communion, the Creature exists at the very apex of loneliness. How strange that this “it” should go forth as the embodiment of all human suffering, while Frankenstein, the man, evades all the darkness of his soul.” ~Sue Grand, The Reproduction of Evil (2000)

During the French Revolution, these phantasmagorical fantasies to defy death took the shape of the invention of the guillotine. During World War I, it was the invention of mustard gas. In World War II, it was the invention of the atomic bomb and the gas chambers of the German concentration camps. Man is capable of malevolent destruction in his attempt at “benevolent cure.” But, at what cost? And, by whose truth? And, what are we really curing? Are our actions causing the development of new diseases?

Like Dr. Frankenstein, guilty and yet ignorant of his own crime, he is the agent of his own tragic predicament. For two years, Frankenstein’s transactions were solely with corpses. Plundering graves, robbing rank organs and body parts in construction of his biological experiment in defying death. Yet like Frankenstein, modern day medicine, leaves death in its path through countless failed biological experiments and the corpses of tortured animals and people. For just like Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, the archive of medical human research speaks of the malevolent and malignant consequences of denying death in pursuing infamy through the accolades of achievement and professional recognition. Vanity does us in every time. For, where is the horror that should attend such grim occupations?

To read the second part of this writing regarding the psychology of the reproduction of evil, click on the following link: https://proclivitysprinciplewisdom.medium.com/more-on-mans-proclivity-of-evil-greed-s-alchemy-under-utilitarian-principles-fd08115a268a



Karen Barna

I am a Targeted Individual suffering electronic harassment. I write about gender difference and object relations and feminism. I am Gen. X