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They, like Bertram Cates in Jerome Lawrence and Robert E. Lee's "Inherit the Wind," and Victor Frankenstein in Mary Shelley's "Frankenstein," all share an urge to seek new horizons despite the persecutions they faced. The livelihood of Victor Frankenstein, for example, is central to the discussion of the text Frankenstein. Victor, always a young and naive mind, spends much of his time in Geneva reading old alchemists. Such a history will have a negative impact on the Swiss boy as he finally enrolls in university studies at Ingolstadt (Beer 228). He spends barely a few years before mastering the content from his professors, and he gains abundantly from the amazing insight of modern science. Victor Frankenstein ventures on the less trodden and hence the most dreaded path, by realizing the “secret of life,” which was fascinating to him when he invented the hideous monster to his life (Badalamenti 423). The unfortunate events follow on a spree, as the monster claims the lives of Victor`s loved one, including his wife, best friend, and his youngest brother, as well as his father. The unbecoming moment rises to occasion when Victor refuses to be remorseful (Beer 234). Though he appears ashamed and discouraged, he does nothing to save the situation as the remedying efforts fall out of phase to avert the heinous uncertainty.
Just as is the case for Victor, Bertram Cates has a great desire to discover new horizons despite the persecutions he experiences. Though he is in custody apparently, Mr. Meeker, his jailor, affirms that Bertram does not deserve jail as he is not the criminal type (Cloud 51). At a tender age of barely 24 years, he is an innocent person whose thought is limited on social fronts. The nativity he beholds makes him a wondrous folk, who marvels about the world and what he experiences, an emotional instability that the townspeople capitalize on to torment his mind. Similarly to Victor, Bertram goes against all social opposition to stand his ground and go for what he stands for despite the massive opposition from his surroundings. The young man is realistic and highly imaginative, ready, able, and willing to come up with new strategies to improve the way he understands and looks at the world. His innovative mind glares all through Inherit the Wind, and at best, one Drummond comes in to boost whenever Bertram feels weak (Bergman 66). Just like the uncertainty Victor had, whether to let go and distance himself from the monster invention, Cates equally feels threatened and unusually irrelevant, a situation that compels Rachel to ask him to beg forgiveness and let go his guilt.
The other element of critical reasoning witnessed between the two characters that make them similar as agents of change in their respective societies is the fact that they both appeal to the fact that all reasoning is expressed through, and shaped by, concepts and ideas (Bergman 61). For instance, when Bertram imagines about the future unfolding of what he beholds, he is engulfed with fear about being in cells with those who killed their grannies. Nevertheless, he remains consistent in reasoning, and thus chooses to pursue his ends by all means, without wavering in focus. Even though he does not appear as insightful as the lawyers, he turns out to be an outstanding character to face the dire situation. Indeed, when the verdict is read, and he is found guilty, Bertram declares his ambition without fear; “I was a schoolteacher. (With difficulty) I feel I am…I have been convicted of violating an unjust law. I will continue in the future, as I have in the past, to oppose this law in any way I can” (Bergman 68). At a critical examination, Bertram appears like a small and insignificant individual when compared to Drummond and Hornbeck. However, he is better than the two combined, considering his reasoning approach and how he remains focused on change. Bertram is not dogmatic, and his ability to go against the status quo makes him the best and relevant wind of change across his society.
Similarly, the reasoning Victor employs confirms that all reasoning is expressed through, and shaped by, concepts and ideas and that he is a wind of change during his time and beyond. The author, Frankenstein, has delivered a detailed background of Victor, "The world," he argues, "was to me a secret which I desired to divine" (Beer 231). He further maintains that "Curiosity, earnest research to learn the hidden laws of nature … are among the earliest sensations I can remember"; and "It was the secrets of heaven and earth that I desired to learn" (Coleman 23). Therefore, from the word go, it becomes easy to appreciate and recognize that Victor is a critical thinker who believes in reason and factual approach. Moreover, Victor is the force for change. One, Victor maintains that he is often curious and anxious to discover. Two is that he has been curious since his childhood, a factor that creates a platform not to doubt or question his actions in adulthood since that is seemingly his nature. In fact, based on victor`s arguments, he seems to have no control over his personality, when he says; “My parents were possessed by the very spirit of kindness and indulgence… When I mingled with other families, I distinctly discerned how peculiarly fortunate my lot was, and gratitude assisted the development of filial love” (Coleman 23). Even though one could argue that victor is evading responsibility, it is a clear manifestation that he believes in change and new knowledge, just like Bertram does.
Both characters, Victor, and Bertram experience similar elements of critical thinking, one of which is the ability to recognize and show that all reasoning is an attempt to figure something out, to settle some question, and to solve some problem (Badalamenti 419). For instance, in the case of Victor, he undergoes personal changes that alter his otherwise innocent and youthful scientific prospects. Indeed, because of the apparent circumstances, he becomes a guilt-ridden and disillusioned individual, whose focus is to obliterate his beautiful scientific inventions. His critical thinking in the approach of contentious issues compels him to be torn apart between self-emanated science and the godlike nature (Coleman 22). Nevertheless, Victor becomes a doomed man, because his end is almost ill-fated, and the predetermination serves to hinder his best social engagements. Eventually, the choice of Victor to become an animalistic creature spells his final command of lost dignity, when he chooses to pursue the monster for revenge.
In the life of Bertram, he too embraces the element of critical reasoning; to figure something out, to settle some question, and to solve some problem, following the circumstances in his surrounding (Cloud 34). Across several scenes in the text, Bertram Cates exhibits the ability to forgive and change his style of approach on critical matters, just like is the case for similar progressives. Contrary to his informed reasoning, those around him do not appreciate the need for critical assessment of contentious issues before acting. For instance, Reverend Brown handles the church in a biased manner, an occurrence that gives Bertram a platform for abandoning the church services (Cloud 22). On the one hand, Bertram is betrayed by Rachel when she unwillingly but unwittingly testifies against him at Brady’s behest. On the other, Bertram, out of reason, and with a careful analysis of the situation, he chooses to forgive and feels remorseful for Rachel when she is distraught. Indeed, Cates goes forth to demand that Rachel leaves the stand, an action that denies him the opportunity to benefit from her defense when Drummond comes on board. Eventually, when the parties leave the trial chambers, it is manifest that the reasoning of Rachel has been challenged and fortified by Bertram`s critical approach (Cloud 12).
Both victor and Bertram resemble each other when it comes to the quality of daring into the unknown course amidst courage, despite the resistance and rebellion they meet. Victor is a believer that nature is overpowering, massive and frightening. However, he believes it is beautiful and that he should discover more about it. He notes in acclaim while in the valley, "Dear mountains! My beautiful lake! How do you welcome your wanderer? Your summits are clear; the sky and lake are blue and placid. Is this to prognosticate peace, or to mock at my unhappiness?" (Badalamenti 433). Through the explanation hitherto, Victor proves his earlier point that he often wants to "penetrate the secrets of nature" and bring to life more that is unknown to humanity (Badalamenti 436). Eventually, Victor ends up meeting resistance about his love and allure for nature, but he perseveres nevertheless.
On the other hand, Bertram as well ventures into extremes of adventures, to learn more about his surroundings. His scientific insight takes on an exclusively different path of invention, one that had not been witnessed by his society in the eyes of the living then. Bertram is a firm believer in his teachings, and he persists against all the odds to establish a new line of thought. Drummond and Hornbeck are obsessed with resistance, and at best the two are representative of the dogmatic society that is, wherein Bertram hails (Cloud 37). Drummond and Hornbeck stage a confrontation against Bertram, on the basis that what he teaches is archaic, and just like the law of Darwin were revoked, so should his scientific establishments be rendered null and void. To a significant extent, the reader could quickly detect that the author uses the person of Bertram to expose the bold and valiant faces in society, who dare against all dreaded odds for change. Despite the degree of dire punishments meted against Bertram, just like a revolutionist, he does not quit his mission. In essence, both Victor and Bertram are free thinkers of the day, in a society which does not embrace those of such caliber then.
Badalamenti, Anthony F. “Why Did Mary Shelley Write Frankenstein?” Journal of Religion and Health 2006: PP. 419–439.
Beer, John. “Mary Shelley, Frankenstein.” A Companion to Romanticism. N.p., 1997. PP. 227–236.
Bergman, Jerry. “Inherit the Wind: A Lesson in Distorting History.” Answers Research Journal 3 (2010): PP. 61–69.
Cloud, J. “Inherit the Wind.” Time 177.15 (2011): PP. 1-54.
Coleman, Jim R. “Shelley’s Frankenstein.” Explicator 63.1 (2004): PP. 21–23.
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