Idealism: Destroyed or Dreamed About
A relevant theme that appears to be intertwined in Mary Shelley’s “Frankenstein”, Countee Cullen’s “Tableau” and Paul Lawrence Dunbar “Theology,” seems to be thoughts of an idealistic theology, society, and creation. Victor, in Shelley’s novel, has maddening thoughts of creating an idealistic scientific creation, which leads to creating himself a hermit who devotes a greater portion of his life to this said creation. Cullen depicts a society where racial discrimination is no longer present in society. Dunbar writes with hope of an idealistic after life rather then those doomed to hell. Collectively, these authors have completely different subjects but focus on idealistic ways that give them inspiration.
Shelley’s character Victor becomes wildly obsessed and immersed in the idea of creating life. He becomes somewhat of a hermit as he dedicates his life to scientific discovery. He is so intent on the idea of creating this life it seemingly drives him mad. He pictures the idealistic creation of life during the time he locked himself away. As Victor becomes more intent on acquiring vast scientific knowledge his idealistic creation becomes more and more of an obsession. However, unlike Dunbar and Cullen’s idealistic theology and society, Victor’s idealistic life is shattered when his creation arises as a horrendous monster. He is overcome with horror of what he has created and is doomed to reap the repercussions of trying to create his idealistic vision. Victor differs vastly from Cullen and Dunbar’s poem because he seems intent on creating this idealistic vision instead of letting it remain just a vision. His arrogance in having to prove his scientific intelligence ruins his idealistic creation and shatters his hope in achieving scientific excellence.
Conversely, Cullen’s “Tableau” paints a society of widespread acceptance between races. Cullen’s poem seems to be left only a vision of racial bliss between these two boys. Cullen beautifully crafts this idealistic society, as these blissfully ignorant boys know nothing else then to walk joyfully together as people stare in curiosity as they pass. This idealistic vision of society as portrayed in “Tableaus” shows how easily such a society can exist but how racial tensions create to much of a barrier for some to overcome. These two boys are not trying to instigate any thing for these bystanders but rather enjoy the company of a friend regardless of color. They walk in such unison and so naturally that God seems to approve with his cast of lightening that helps forge this path of racial unison in Cullen’s idealistic society. This approval from God lends the idea that Cullen believes it is God’s plan for such a society to exist but there are several hindrances that will prohibit such a society to exist yet. Thus proving that unlike Victor, who took his idealism in his own hands, Cullen is patiently waiting for his idealistic society to become normal rather then trying to force it to happen.
Dunbar’s “Theology” doesn’t provide must insight on his idealistic theology just that he knows it will provide a promising afterlife for him but maybe not his neighbors. Dunbar’s tone is very light-hearted as he jokingly says there must be a hell because that’s the place people like his neighbor are destined to be. His idealistic vision of theology isn’t forced into being like in “Frankenstein” or dreamed about like in “Tableau” rather it’s reassured through the thought that his neighbors surely deserve a spot in hell and his soul is reserved for heaven. His humorous outlook on his idealistic religious afterlife contrasts from the darkness of Victor’s idealism and the patience of Cullen’s “Tableau”.
Overall, although these authors greatly differ in what their idealism is and how they deal with it they seem to essentially revolve around the idea of it. Whether it be the idealism of creating human life, a utopian society, or afterlife these authors craft their works around the practice of forming these somewhat unrealistic thoughts. Collectively this topic of idealism resonates with the Psychology lecture I attended. They spoke of trying to create a world of people who don’t associate stereotypes with mentally ill or handicapped. They brought in two different speakers to try and persuade the audience into beating these stereotypes and what we can do to make this idealistic situation happen. They proposed ideas of raising awareness of what mental illness and handicaps really are compared to what people decipher them to be. By raising this awareness a bias-free society, as mentioned in “Tableau”, can be made possible through certain well-thought out actions, unlike those in “Frankenstein”, which seems to create a better possibility of attaining their goal. And although everyone has their own idealistic views on life, there are certain ways to attain or destroy the possibility of them happening.