28 February 2012
Discrimination against others regarding their appearance is a theme seen in Mary Shelley's Frankenstein, Paul Layrence Dunbar's "Theology" and Countee Cullen's "Tableau". This theme of discrimination related to my Zen meditation this week because of all of the free time that you have to think to yourself and kind of wonder about the bigger social issues in life, much like discrimination. Cullen's and Dunbar's works are more closely related to one another dealing with racial discrimination, while Shelley's novel deals with more of the aesthetic appearance of one's physical features.
The intolerance of the monster's appearance created by character Victor Frankenstein in Shelley's Frankenstein sets up for later guilt in Victor's life, much like when you judge someone based on their looks as well. As soon as Victor sees the creature that he has created, he is disgusted. In depicting this scene, Shelley writes, "I had desired it with an ardor that far exceeded moderation; but now that I finished, the beauty of the dream vanished, and breathless horror and disgust filled my heart. Unable to endure the aspect of the being I had created, I rushed out of the room, and continued a long time traversing my bedchamber, unable to compose my mind to sleep" (60-61). The fact that the creature is considered to be hideous looking obviously bothers Victor, keeping him awake at night and then his shunning the creature becomes the source of guilt once his brother is murdered. During my weekly meditation, I always look back on my week and try to pick out the things that I need to improve on in life. Unfortunately, as all humans do sometimes, I tend to judge others from time to time. For example, this past week I noticed that a girl had walked into one of my classes looking like she literally just got out of bed. I couldn't help myself but judging her then, but then as I was thinking about it during meditation, I realized how bad doing that made me feel, and then I thought that that must be like what Victor thought after judging the monster he created by his looks as well.
As stated before, both Cullen's and Dunbar's works have to do with racial discrimination. More specifically, both poems touch on the people that are doing the discriminating. In Dunbar's poem, he basically suggests that all racial discriminators belong in hell, writing "There is a heaven, for ever, day by day,/The upward longing of my soul doth tell me so./There is a hell, I'm quite as sure; for pray,/If there were not, where would my/ neighbors go?" (252). Then in Cullen's poem, he writes about a white boy and a black boy walking arm in arm and people look at them and stare judgingly. During my meditation while I was trying to clear my mind, I think abut the "bigger pictures" in life, which focus some of the time on how I wish that there would be no discrimination in the world, especially dealing with race or gender. Reading these two works before going to meditate really did influence my thinking on this particular topic.
After reading the first half of Mary Shelley's Frankenstein, Paul Layrence Dunbar's "Theology" and Countee Cullen's "Tableau" and then going to a Zen meditation session, I realized that the theme of discriminating against others was extremely strong throughout each piece, which then led to my thoughts about how I need to work on not judging others in life.