Part 1: Writing Portfolio

The Enlightenment Task-

“I have always thought the actions of men are the best interpreters of their thoughts.”

I will be writing a response understanding how John Lockes theory, ‘Concerning human understanding’ relates to concepts in Mary Shelley’s gothic novel, Frankenstein. How knowledge is obtained has been the question everyone has been trying to understand for hundreds of years. John Locke has been one of the few philosophers who’s has foundered a theory around this. I have noticed that the creature in Frankenstein seems to be an example of Lockes works, that the mind begins as a blank slate or tabula rasa. Only our experiences shape our personality and how and what we become. 

English man John Locke lived from 1632 to 1704, he was one of the most famous philosophers and political theorists in the 17th and 18th centuries. John Lockes major contribution to the enlightenment period was foundering the tabula rasa theory, publishing the essay of ‘concerning human understanding’. The tabula rasa theory states that at birth the mind is born as a blank slate and that your knowledge comes form experience through out your life. He is also considered to be the ‘father of liberalism’ which comes from his other theory, based on the principle of liberty and equality foundering the U.S declaration of independence and constitution.

Locke believed that every human was born with their minds completely empty, this went against the philosophical tradition that at the very lest we are born with some rational understanding and desirers/intentions, referred to as human nature. Locke believed there was no human nature and everyone of us are the author of our own character, all men are created equal. This idea first came about when Locke meet Anthony Ashley Cooper who grew his career, Locke followed him to holland where he wrote his first book ‘concerning human understanding’, he then moved back to write many more books about government and human rights. He states that no knowledge is placed on us by god and there can be no innate ideas. He accepts that we have innate ability – like humans have the ability to speak, whereas animals don’t – but nothing else.

In the novel Frankenstein, Victor creates a large creature for a scientific experiment he has been working on for years. Once his work is finished the creature is left to fend for himself in the world, as Frankenstein immedity regrets creating him, hoping he will die out there alone. The creature not knowing any English or any of his capabilities, has the mind of a newborn child. Because of his differences (looks), society treated the creature as horrible as ever, forcing him to live in isolation to others and fight for his life. He taught himself everything about survival, also how to read and speak, by spying on a family that live in the woods and coping there actions. He later turns into a monster, killing all of Victors loved ones, payback for creating him and leaving him for dead.

Everything that goes on around the creature relates to John Lockes theory, his mind being a blank slate from the moment he was created, having to learn everything on his own out of the experiences he went through. Locke states that ‘No man’s knowledge can go beyond his experience.’

An example of how he develops understanding from his experiences comes though this quote from Frankenstein, “I began to distinguish my sensations from each other. I gradually saw plainly the clear stream that supplied me with drink, and the trees that shaded me with their foliage.” he goes on to say he learns that these things are good and he will go back and experience them again, as he’s gaining knowledge. When he was first created he didn’t understand what water or trees were used for, it only because if his experience with them he has figured out what their purpose is. 

An example from the text “I felt light, and hunger, and thirst, and darkness; innumerable sounds rang in my ears, and on all sides various scents saluted me”. This quote is said by the creature when his is figuring out his senses, he learns that he can solve the problem of being cold by building a fire, he experiences the joy and warmth from the fire, building his knowledge.

The creature created by Frankenstein says that ‘misery made him a fiend’, as he believes that the people who hurt him made him they way he is.  Locke believes that the way someone is treated by society determines the way someone becomes, good or bad. The creature had to learn the hard way that society didn’t like him as he was different, in one part in the text he saves a little girl from drowning in the river. The father saw the creature taking his daughter, the man immediately thought that he was harmful, the one who was drowning her, so he shot him in the shoulder. Once the creature went through this horrible experience, he lost all faith in humans and “vowed eternal hatred and vengeance to all mankind”. Because he thought he was being kind and he got hurt for doing what was right, so he only learnt not to trust humanity. He goes on to hunt down Victor’s family to get revenge on him and other humans, as his knowledge around what to do came from the bad experiences he had had “My feelings were those of rage and revenge”. From this novel we notice that the way society treats us has a massive impact on the person we become. 

From this report I have discussed Lockes theory and how Mary Shelley reflects his ideas though her text Frankenstein. Hopefully from this report you have gained some understanding about how knowledge is obtained and how our experiences teach us how to act/think. The creatures experiences were influenced because of Victors abandonment towards him, because of this the creature experienced the outside world by himself. He had a lot of negative experiences with society, forcing him to hate mankind, all he had ever known was pain and hate when he interacted with humans. If Victor had looked after him and showed him society from a different point of view his experiences would have been different, mabye the creature would have turned out much better off.   




Wide Reading – Ruined

“The past doesn’t go away. You just can’t see it anymore.”

Ruined is a gripping gothic novel written by Paula Morris, a story about a young girl who goes to live in New Orleans with her Aunty and Cousin as her Dads away on business. Rebecca (the main protagnist) has to attend a new school, without any friends. She decides to go to cemetery at night to spy on the cool kids from the year above, on her way out she runs into a mysterious girl who gives her directions home. Rebecca visits the cemetery often and learns more about this girl, finding out that she is a ghost. Learning that Lisette, murdered over 150 years ago by a member from one of the most important families in New Orleans (Bowman family), Lisette is destined to roam the grounds of the cemetery until the curse has lifted and she is set free. Rebecca is only to find out that she is a bowman girl by blood and her father has been lying to her all these years to try and keep her safe from the curse. She could be the last of the bowman daughters to die on her 17th birthady and take the curse with her, with help from her friends Lisette and Anton she makes it out alive but its Lisettes time to move on.

I believe that this novel shows a lot of gothic elements, the setting that is described in this text is hold common features that are displayed in gothic fiction. When reading Ruined we see that Rebecca has a strong attraction to the nonhuman/supernatural world and that her emotions and curiosity override reason and what is right. Because of her curiosity to the supernatural world she gets herself into dangerous situations. These elements will be discussed in my report and I will explian how I feel and what I think this text.

There is tendency to keep looking over your shoulder throughout this read, making you feel cool and sense everything around, feeling as if we are in Rebeccas shoes. dark always cloudy, cemetery as main setting spooky big old houses page turning

driven by passion, emotions rater than reason, influenced by past events, effecting the future, there is a bond between the girls as they are both lonely and motherless. If Rebecca listened to her aunt and didn’t visit the cemetery she wouldn’t have meet the ghost and she wouldn’t have learnt about the curse would have been keep out of harms way. That cat is setting a very bad example,” sighed Aunt Claudia, shaking her head. She seemed to have forgotten about making Rebecca promise things, which was just as well: Rebecca was hoping to follow Marilyn’s lead sometime soon. She was from New York, after all: A small cemetery in a tiny city like this didn’t frighten her.

easy assertion to the nonhuman, foreshadowing. this relates to Rebeccas curiosity as she likes to know what lisettes been up to she wants to meet other ghost, know what happened to them. Eventhought she is frightened by the idea she still it intreaded.


John Locke

  • Who are they?

John locke was one of the most famous philosophers and political theorists in the 17th and 18th centuries. He lived from 1632 to 1704, an English philosopher and physician. He is know as one of the most influential thinkers in the enlightenment and commonly know as the ‘Father of liberalism’.

  • What were their major contributions to the 18th centre philosophy

John Lockes major contribution was foundering the modern philosophical empiricism finding out that the mind is born at a blank slate and that knowledge is based on experience. He is also considered the ‘father of liberalism’ which is based on the princible of liberty and equality, he helped founder of the U.S. Declaration of Independence and Constitution, human rights.

  • Explain their most successful and well recognised theory.

His most important work was the essay concerning human understanding. This was a book published in December 1989 based on the the knowledge and understanding of the human mind.

  • How was there theory related to Frankenstein?

John locke theory about human understanding relates to Frankenstein as Locke states that the mind is a blank slate, this relates to the creation that Frankenstein creates as he was born not knowing any of his body features capability’s or surroundings. The creature acted like a new born baby, having to learn everything over again from how to speak to how to survive. A quote for out of Frankenstein said by the creature “A strange multiplicity of sensations seized me, and I saw, felt, heard, and smelt at the same time; and it was, indeed, a long time before I learned to distinguish between the operations of my various senses”


What is happening in the text around this setting?

Word choices and/or language devices that shelly uses in this setting.

How does the setting develop, what tone.


Geneva- Home

“The majestic and wondrous scenes which surrounded our Swiss home—the sublime shapes of the mountains, the changes of the sea- sons, tempest and calm, the silence of winter, and the life and turbulence of our Alpine summers—she found ample scope for admiration and delight.”

When Frankenstein explains about his home he is talking about Elizabeth, he says that in-between all of whats happing she makes him feel calm and happy. As he talks about his surroundings he is using the tone used in gothic fiction, he says that it can be violent and calm, using two different descriptives for one thing. He says there is coldness and darkness out in the mountains which makes the reader quite unsettled, makes us feel cold and maybe scared, keeping us intrigued and wondering what is out there.


Inglostlad- University

“At length the high white steeple of the town met my eyes. I alighted and was conducted to my solitary apart- ment to spend the evening as I pleased.”

Shelly talks about a high white steeple which indicates that there is a church in the town, it make make the reader feel small compared to there surroundings. But in this Frankenstein says that he can spend his evening how he pleased which suggests that he feels calmed down by the church, but this makes the reader wonder what part the church may play in the text to come. This point makes the tone in the text very calm and makes us think about what will happen next because everything has come to an end and we no that in gothic fiction something bad may happen.


The Big Five

Conflicts in literature can be broken into five major categories.

Man vs Society

Man vs Technology 

Man vs Self
“Life, although it may only be an accumulation of anguish, is dear to me, and I will defend it.”
“Often did my human nature turn with loathing from my occupation whilst still urged on by an eagerness which particular increased, I brought my work near to a conclusion.”
“How can I describe my emotions at this catastrophe or how delineate the wretch whom with such infinite pain and care I had endeavoured to form.”

Man vs Man
“Cursed, cursed creator! Why did I live? Why, in that instant, did I not extinguish the spark of existence which you had so wantonly bestowed? I know not; despair had not yet taken possession of me; my feelings were those of rage and revenge. I could with pleasure have destroyed the cottage and its inhabitants and have glutted myself with their shrieks and misery.” The monster is saying how he wishes he isn’t alive and that he hates Frankenstein for creating him, he wonders why life is so miserable for him and why Frankenstein and other humans enjoy life and not him. He’s blaming Frankenstein and the cottagers for his miserable life.

“Beware; for I am fearless, and therefore powerful.”

“Accursed creator! Why did you form a monster so hideous that even YOU turned from me in disgust? God, in pity, made man beautiful and alluring, after his own im- age; but my form is a filthy type of yours, more horrid even from the very resemblance. Satan had his companions, fellow devils, to admire and encourage him, but I am solitary and abhorred.’”

Victor loves the monster at the beginning but he just hates the look of him and feels threatened by him he’s confused and he dosing want to like the monster because he may seem week towards his family of something.

Man vs Nature
“[Scientists] penetrate into the recesses of nature and show how she works in her hiding-places. They ascend into the heavens; they have discovered how the blood circulates, and the nature of the air we breathe. They have acquired new and almost unlimited powers; they can command the thunders of heaven, mimic the earthquake, and even mock the invisible world with its own shadows”




Wide Reading – The tell tale heart

“I have lost control of my mind, why do you say that I am mad? Can you not see that I have full control of my mind? Is it not clear that I am not mad?”

The Tell Tale Heart is a gothic fiction short story written by Edgar Ellen-Poe, we are told the story about a man and his intense obsession with what he sees in another mans eye. During the story the man stalks the old man by watching him in his room as he’s obsess with the idea that the old mans eye is ‘evil’, he states that he had a eye of a vulture. The man is fixated with the idea that the old man is giving him an evil eye and that it is cursed, he says he loves the old man it was just his eye that he dreaded so very much. He ends up killing the old man just because of his eye, this tells me that the man is obviously insane and clearly over the top about his emotions. I believe that the main character in this story shows strong emotional responses and this is the element I will be discussing in this report. There are three features that are used throughout gothic fiction tension, foreshadowing and that the characters actions/qualities are contrasting, following their emotions instead of what is right.

He allows his emotions to exaggerate and take over, at the beginning of the story the man goes on about how he is not mad (as said in the quote above), he is trying to persuade everyone that he is not mad when he clearly is and he is making it worse. But says he is not mad “a madman does not plan” when he clearly is planning his actions through out the text. He is arguing with the unknown, trying to convince us the opposite to something that is very obvious, this makes him seem insane. He lets his emotions over ride what is right by going to the old mans house every night which is not normal. Once he kills the old man he then hides the dead body under the floor boards, he says that he cuts the body up into little pieces and places them carefully under the house. During this part he is saying that he is not mad because he hid him so carefully, not letting any blood drip so no-one could find it. While I read this it makes me feel like the man is even more insane than at the beginning of the story, I feel that I or any other person with a healthy mindset, could not of think of these horrid thoughts and that why he insane. When people do strange things like this in real life society looks down on the person, we lock them up and they are pretty much forgotten, we feel sick about the killer and I get this feeling when reading this story. 

The atmosphere in this story is very tense, there are lots of short sentences and repetition to indicate to us that the man it not well and he is panicing about the eye. Using short sentences makes us think about the last sentence so the whole section is still fresh I our minds, our brains overthink what he has said adding even more tension and horror into the story. The author wants us to get an idea of this abnormal behaviour and he’s trying to make us uncomfortable. The crazy man has peswaded himself that the eye is evil but its all in his disturbed mind, it must relate to his sickness that he goes on about at the beginning of the story. At the beginning he tells us that he has been ill, very ill, but this has not caused him to go crazy it has only made his feelings and his senses stronger. This startles me as he says in the story that he has herd things in heaven and hell, however he does not fear those things, so the tension in the story increases making the reader on edge.

The beginning of the story plays a major part in how the man reacts, from the beginning I felt like something crazy was going to happen as the man describes his illness and his control of his mind. It puts me in an uncomfortable position as you have node what is going to happen in the story and just when you think you have an idea about what is happening another strange event happens. I think Edgar used foreshadowing in the beginning of the story to indicate the sense of sanity. The first paragraph told me that the man is unstable if not crazy. The man claims he is not mad yet he wants to kill the old man because his eye bothers him. This certainly foreshadows the narrator as unreliable and hence his eventual mental breakdown.

From the story I feel that I cannot relate to this and his thoughts and what he feels towards the old man very abnormal, at the beginning of the book he states that he loves the old man and he was very nice to him during the days coming up to his death. But then he had a very strange vibe coming from his eye, we as a reader think that the man is absolutely crazy as he is going on about how he hates the mans eye so much but he loves him at the same time. It would have been much easier for him to just avoid the old man or move past his obsession with the ‘evil eye’. His mind must be very disturbed and makes me think about what his past life was like, when you read this story I feel like he is falling deeper and deeper into insanity. His emotions are very extreme and I don’t think any normal person would go though something as intense as this.

Some times in real life we let our emotions dictate our lives and we don’t think about the consequences, Edgar Ellen-Poe defiantly shows us the results in a intense situation when you allow this to happen. He uses tension and foreshadowing to help express the discomfort felt in the story and allow the gothic elements to really shine though. Even though I could not relate to the extremes of this story I feel like everybody allows there emotions to override the correct thing to do in life situations. I believe that Poe wrote this story brilliantly and a lot of gothic elements shone though in this text.

“For it was not the old man I felt I had to kill; it was the eye, his Evil Eye.”





Gothic Protaganist? – Frankenstien

Discriptors  Traits Actions Comments
Has distinct contrasting qualities to their character.
-They have different qualities in there personality.
Diffrent personality traits. He cuts up body but then feels guilty about it. “so deeply I was engrossed in my occupation… My work drew near to a close and now everyday showed me more painly how well I had succeeded. But my enthusiasm was checked by my anxiety”
Usually of a high social rank or holds a position of power.
-‘Big dog’
The male has a higher social rank than the female. He travels around the world, owns a villa – rich.  “When my father returned from Milan, he found playing with me in the hall of our villa.”
Often surrounded by devices that foreshadow something negative.
-Text of doom.
His emotions are formed and spoken about like a lake, river, train. Saying that they are flowing from somewhere. Chooses to dismiss the warnings. “Fatal impulse that led to my ruin”
Driven by strong emotions rather than logic or reason.
-There is no real reason to why they do these things.
He has no idea why he’s doing these things but he is getting drawn to them.

He stops every thing to go and do chemistry at uni, but something draws him to leave and work in a funeral home, the devotes life to bring back the dead.

“No word, no expression could body forth the kind of relation in which she stood to me—my more than sister, since till death she was to be mine only.”
“Wealth was an inferior object, but what glory would attend the dis- covery if I could banish disease from the human frame and render man invulnerable to any but a violent death!” 
Generally secretive or surrounded by air of mysyery.
Keeping secrets He doesn’t have many friends and he doesn’t tell anyone about his experiment.

My temper was sometimes violent, and my passions vehement; but by some law in my temperature they were turned not towards childish pursuits but to an eager desire to learn, and not to learn all things indiscriminately.

Has a need to know or curious nature.
Curious Fake towards others, Once he has his mind set, he goes for it.

Thee world was to me a secret which I desired to divine.

New language


Hastened: be quick to do something.

Benevolent: well meaning and kindly.

Vagrants: a person without a settled home or regular work who wanders from place to place and lives by begging.

Disconsolate: very unhappy and unable to be comforted.

Abode: a place of residence; a house or home.

Indiscriminately: in a random manner; unsystematically.




Foreshadowing in Frankenstein

Thus strangely are our souls constructed, and by such slight ligaments are we bound to prosperity or ruin. When I look back, it seems to me as if this almost miraculous change of inclination and will was the immediate suggestion of the guardian angel of my life—the last e ort made by the spirit of preservation to avert the storm that was even then hang- ing in the stars and ready to envelop me. Her victory was announced by an unusual tranquillity and gladness of soul which followed the relinquishing of my ancient and latterly tormenting studies. It was thus that I was to be taught to associate evil with their prosecution, happiness with their disregard.
It was a strong e ort of the spirit of good, but it was in- e ectual. Destiny was too potent, and her immutable laws had decreed my utter and terrible destruction.

Foreshowing is like a fortune telling device, possible things that will happen.
Hints that are in Frankenstein that are saying that something bad will happen.

  • He is saying that he and the girl are built to “prosperity or ruin”, not knowing if they will be drawn to wealth and susses or destroying things. Showing foreshadowing and mystery as he is saying that to things could happen.
  • This is telling me that his destiny was to strong to stop now and it had already made a huge influence on him, ordering him to his “utter and terrible destruction.” He is saying that her laws could not be changed now and that it his his destiny to do something bad in the future, this is a great example of foreshadowing.

Tone and mood – Tell tale heart

It is impossible to say how the idea first entered my head. There was no reason for what I did. I did not hate the old man; I even loved him. He had never hurt me. I did not want his money. I think it was his eye. His eye was like the eye of a vulture, the eye of one of those terrible birds that watch and wait while an animal dies, and then fall upon the dead body and pull it to pieces to eat it. When the old man looked at me with his vulture eye a cold feeling went up and down my back; even my blood became cold. And so, I finally decided I had to kill the old man and close that eye forever! So you think that I am mad? A madman cannot plan. But you should have seen me. During all of that week I was as friendly to the old man as I could be, and warm, and loving.


Tone: This part of the story say a lot that he hates something about the man but he still loves him, the character seems uncertain on what he is trying to say and what he feels. When he talks about the eye and how it is like a vulture he’s gets carried away and starts saying that he’s not mad but it makes the man seem even more mad and insane. The character has a weird obsession with the eye and he has no reason for it so it makes him sound crazy, scared even paranoid. He may have something going on in his mind that is unhealthy.

Mood: When reading this part of the story it develops a creepy mood and we feel a bit uneasy about the character. How the character says he was nice to the man all week makes us have a sick feeling because of what the man is going to do at the end of the week. The story puts us in a confused frame of mind and we feel weird out reading this.