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NUM-INOUS COMICS PT. 2

This essay is a very belated response to a " part 1 " published in February 2015. The gist of that essay was a response to a corre...

Thursday, January 21, 2016

OUT WITH THE BAD WILL, IN WITH THE GOOD PT. 2

A few refinements to what I wrote in Part 1:

I stated that "...no matter what sort of viewpoint character the author may choose, he may focus as easily upon the "will" within the viewpoint character (or on some figure allied to him, or an ensemble of such characters), OR upon things, people, or phenomena that are perceived as "the other" to the viewpoint character's will." I should have noted, however, that the will of the viewpoint character is a construction of the author, since no fictional character is a willing entity. Thus the viewpoint character's will-construct may subsume even things that seem opposed to that character's personal interests.

In CREATOR AND CREATOR ENSEMBLED HE THEM, I stated that I considered that both Victor Frankenstein and his monster constituted an "ensemble," in that both characters were central to the concerns of Shelley's novel. Some iterations of the Frankenstein concept have chosen to center upon just one of the two. The 1931 FRANKENSTEIN film is *exothelic,* in that it emphasizes the monstrous "other" of the Monster, but the 1957 CURSE OF FRANKENSTEIN centers upon the megalomaniacal monster-maker, and is thus *endothelic.*

The novel FRANKENSTEIN is told from the POV of Victor Frankenstein, but this in itself does not make it *endothelic,* given that the 1931 film also follows Frankenstein's POV. But unlike either of the films, the Shelley novel explores the psyche of Frankenstein as a divided will. I'm far from the first to suggest that Shelley's work owes something to the German folklore of the doppelganger. The Monster is certainly not Victor's physical double in accordance to most folklore and literature about doppelgangers (notably Poe's WILLIAM WILSON). However, the Monster stalks Victor relentlessly after the former's unfortunate creation, and, more importantly, the creature may be acting upon Victor's suppressed desires and hostilities, visiting horrible deaths upon people Victor supposedly cares about. Thus, even though Victor and the Monster are opposed on the literal, "lateral" level of the novel's action, in terms of the story's *underthought* the two are one.

However, it's not impossible for characters linked via some sort of shared psyche to become distinct. In the ENSEMBLED essay, I argued that even though Robert Louis Stevenson's Jekyll and Hyde were literally two sides of the same man, Stevenson devotes far more attention to Hyde than to Jekyll, so that Hyde is the focal presence of the story-- as he is in most adaptations-- while Jekyll is reduced to something of a "supporting character" to Hyde, much as the beast-men of Wells' DOCTOR MOREAU are subsidiary to the titular scientist. Of course, both the Stevenson and Wells novels are told from the POV of a largely uninteresting narrator, so there's no question that both of these are *exothelic.* The matter becomes a little more complicated in that most Jekyll-and-Hyde film adaptations take Jekyll's POV, but these tend to be *exothelic* as well, like the 1931 FRANKENSTEIN film. In many respects "Jekyll the support guy" conjures forth a more dynamic "alter ego" a la both Clark Kent and Billy Batson-- and so all three would be examples of the theory of exteriorization discussed here, though the latter two examples are *endothelic* in that the alter ego is not an "other" to the viewpoint "support-character."

In (temporary) conclusion, I'm meditating on also devising adjectivial forms for "the idealizing will" and "the existential will." The appropriate Greek words would seem to yield *ideothelic* and *physiothelic,* but I'm not in love with these terms at present.


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