Energizer’s AA/AAA Chargers

Energizer CHFM1 Energizer CHDC7 Energizer CHUSB

This is Energizer’s current lineup of budget AA/AAA battery chargers. I was fortunate enough to have Margaret Welch of Blick & Staff Communications send me these on Energizer’s behalf, and I’ve had plenty of time to try them out.

All three work with AA and AAA; with AAA, there are smaller contacts that flip down to accommodate the batteries’ smaller lengths. None of them are made for the forgetful person needing power for their camera at the last minute; to fully charge four 2500 mAh AA batteries, it takes 5 hours, 6.5 hours, or 8.5 hours (from left to right, respectively). However, if you rotate sets, or let them work overnight, these are perfect for use at home or when traveling. If you want a charger that works quickly, Energizer offers a 15-minute charger (Amazon.com), and it has a fan, so your batteries shouldn’t get too hot. I didn’t get one for this review, but customer opinion is positive.

From left to right, as labeled on the packages:
Energizer CHFM1: e2 Rechargeable
Energizer CHDC7: e2 Rechargeable Compact Charger AA/AAA
Energizer CHUSB: e2 Rechargeable USB Duo AA/AAA Charger

These newer chargers turn off automatically, not based just on a timer, but rather they detect when batteries are done, which extends the life of your investment.

In case you’re in the dark, you can use these to power any AA or AAA Nickel-metal hydride batteries, even if they are a different brand. This includes the new low-discharge variants, such as the Rayovac Hybrid brand.

My favorite of the three is the compact one (middle, CHDC7). The charging part retracts into the body, so you can throw it in your bag without wasting any space. The light indicators are innovative; when one is blinking, the charging is begun; when two are blinking, the it is past half way, and when two are solid, it is complete. This makes it easy to track the progress. Plus, it looks cool, and the charger isn’t as wide as the first. It took just over six hours to empower a fresh set of four Energizer-brand AAs, and I’ve taken over 300 shots with my Canon PowerShot A620, with no low-battery warning in sight. I don’t use the flash as I prefer ambient lighting; the batteries will drain faster if you do. Back in the stone age (a.k.a. 2005), I used Mattel’s Juice Box as my MP3 player; it uses three AA batteries, and I always hated that many chargers would only work in groups of two. This one is no different, unfortunately; you can only charge two or four batteries at once, not one or three. Two can be AAs and two can be AAAs, at least.

The Energizer CHFM1 (left) isn’t much different from the compact charger, except for being bulkier and slower (8.5 vs. 6.5 hours). It too charges batteries in groups of two. You can change the face plate; there is white, silver, and black, which is a nice touch. I like the black one, though the back is dark gray and doesn’t match. The only indicator light is red for charging and green for done; there is an on/off button, so that you can turn it off but leave it plugged in; I just unplug it, so I have no use for the button. One thing that worries me about both is that they have no extension cables, but instead have a plug that flips out, so if you plug them into a power strip they’ll block a lot of outlets, and they weigh a pound each with batteries, which puts stress on the outlet. If you’re using a regular wall outlet, it shouldn’t matter, and the simplified plug saves space.

The USB charger (right) touts itself as working in two hours, but actually needs five hours for Energizer’s current 2500 milliampere-hour AA batteries (mAh, generally a measurement of battery capacity). Don’t expect to restore your Fujifilm A900‘s two AA batteries from deadness before your laptop’s battery gives out, but you can get the boost needed for fifty shots if you have your laptop, and a half hour to kill, right in the field. The charger will power up a pair of AAA batteries in two hours, but no serious cameras use them because they drain so quickly. The Fujifilm and Canon A series cameras are still being made and all utilize AAs, though many of the Canons, such as my PowerShot A620, use four AAs, so this charger will be less practical. You can refill one battery at once if you choose, unlike with the others. I can see this being useful for my MP3 player/voice recorder, it being powered by one AAA. The charger also comes with a wall plug so you can use it in a standard U.S. power outlet, away from your computer. The USB cord is just six inches long; that saves space (the cord wraps around the body), but can be inconvenient.

A unique feature of the USB charger is that you can download software at http://energizer.com/usbcharger/ that displays how long you’ll have to wait. The software is available for Windows 2000 or Mac OS 10.4 and above; the Windows version is 3MB, occupies 13MB of space, and is non-portable (writes to the registry), so you can’t keep it on your USB flash drive. It adds a shortcut in “Programs” in your Start Menu AND at the top, which is overkill because the program starts automatically when you plug the charger into a USB port. When I was installing it, Windows XP gave this message:

Energizer USB Charger warning on Windows XP

It’s a pointless warning message, but will confuse many unexperienced Windows users.

Here’s what it looks like when the charger is plugged in but with no batteries:

Energizer USB Charger software: insert battery

And with a battery, the remaining time is displayed; 3 hours, 48 minutes here:

Energizer USB Charger software: count-down

If you are charging 2 batteries, the time displayed is just that of the battery that will take the longest. The software is really basic; you can change the color (mine is orange, as you can see), and configure the software to start and terminate when you attach and detach the charger, but that’s all. I have no idea why Energizer UsbCharger.exe is 12.3MB, nor why it eats up 31MiB of RAM all the time, other than inefficient programming.

The left one (CHFM1) comes with 4 AA rechargeables, the middle with none (CHDC7), and the right (CHUSB) with 2 AAA rechargeables. I used the AAs from the first in the second, and they work great. They can be more expensive, but, if you’ve read my article, Simple Advice on AA Chargers & Batteries, you know the dangers of cheap, gray-market batteries. Energizer batteries always work well and last a long time, so I have no hesitation in recommending them. Plus, I have Duracell batteries where the labels peel off after some use, but this annoyance doesn’t crop up with Energizer, which is nice. All of Energizer’s new peripherals are good despite my gripes; I’m glad we’ve finally passed the age of timer-driven (or even timerless), “dumb” chargers that I’ve complained of. While AAs don’t last as long the Lithium-Ion battery in my Canon Rebel XTi, they’ve come quite far, are cheaper, and are far easier to find.

Photo: The Red-Brick House

The Red-Brick House — black clouds threaten a lonely abode

A house of red bricks stands alone against an impending storm. This is my neighbor’s yard; the clouds formed into an ominous circle right before the rain. The phone pole was not optional, as I couldn’t compose the frame as such while excluding it, but I’ve come to like it; its crookedness keeps the level horizon from becoming boring. I made a decision in post-processing to not give color to anything except the red house, and a tiny bit of green to the grass, which gives punch, and makes this conceptual; the house is unique and alone. Hope you enjoy it; I don’t do many landscapes, but this one I’m proud of.

This was challenging to edit; all the elements were there to start, but needed to be perfected. I burned in the clouds, telephone pole, trees, and edges of the frame, then remapped the tones through curves in the Lab color-space, including the contrast and color channels. I had problems with the shadows remaining dark-red, but corrected them by desaturating everything but the house, grass, and trees in the center. I debated placing the colors as more yellow or blue, but found this compromise to be the most natural and compelling.
[quickshop:4*6 The Red-Brick House (lustre):price:0.95:shipping:0.45:shipping2:0.45:end]

Buy a 4*6 copy for $0.95 (USA only). Lustre finish. After adding, go to your shopping cart.

Canon Rebel XTi, EFS 18-55mm, 1/25, F3.5, 18mm, ISO400, 2008-02-26T17:55:09-05, 20080226-225509rxt

Download the high-res JPEG or download the source image.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License. Please credit me as “Photo by Richard Thripp” or something similar.

Photo: A Purple Evening

A Purple Evening — barren trees against a darkening purple sky

The sky turned purple in this sunset, so I got this photo of the clouds with some bare trees in front. The clouds were darker above, which you can see at the top of the frame.

I darkened the clouds at the top, shifted the colors to be more purple, and improved the contrast.

Canon Rebel XTi, EF 50mm 1:1.4, 1/80, F2.2, 50mm, ISO400, 2008-01-05T17:53:56-05, 20080105-225356rxt

Download the high-res JPEG or download the source image.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License. Please credit me as “Photo by Richard Thripp” or something similar.

Photo: The Black Sunset

The Black Sunset — black clouds crowd out the sun

This dark sunset is from my front yard. The division between light and dark was fascinating, and there were bright red highlights on the clouds, but by the time I’d fetched my camera they’d diminished to this. Still looks good, though.
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Canon Rebel XTi, EF 50mm 1:1.4, 1/125, F2.2, 50mm, ISO100, 2008-01-04T17:44:56-05, 20080104-224456rxt

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License. Please credit me as “Photo by Richard Thripp” or something similar.

Photo: Sunset in Motion

Sunset in Motion — a car speeding past a bright-orange sunset

A speeding car is the foreground for a stunning sunset outside my home. I’m breaking some rules here: the horizon is tilted, and the sky is over-exposed, but it’s worth it because this is different and creative. Right? :smile:

Editing: burning on the sky and dodging on the car, plus more contrast with the curves tool.
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Canon Rebel XTi, EFS 18-55mm, 1/30, F4, 30mm, ISO100, 2008-01-01T17:45:45-05, 20080101-224545rxt

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License. Please credit me as “Photo by Richard Thripp” or something similar.

Photo: Common Geometry

Common Geometry — street lights in a new light

I took this shot from right underneath a street light; the subject is quite interesting yet overlooked. Developed this from black-and-white film; it was sunny out yet I managed to get a dark sky. :smile:
[quickshop:4*6 Common Geometry (lustre):price:0.95:shipping:0.45:shipping2:0.45:end]

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Canon Elan IIe, EF 50mm 1:1.4, Kodak TRI-X 400 35mm film, 2008-01-28, common-geometry-rxt

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License. Please credit me as “Photo by Richard Thripp” or something similar.

Netfirms Loses Power, 1 Million Sites Down

My website was down from 15:00Z to 22:00Z today (10 A.M. to 5 P.M. EST). This was the fault of my host, Netfirms, as they lost power today, and their backup generators failed. More about this here. So, while they claim to host one million websites, for seven hours today, they hosted zero (even their own was down for most of that time).

I get the most traffic on Saturday, so this was quite disappointing for me. I called them and was told I could write to csmgr@netfirms.com, and they may consider compensating me. Here’s what I said:


My name is Richard X. Thripp and I’ve been a loyal Netfirms customer since August. I’ve been using your web hosting service extensively in the past two months, and have found it be good for hosting my WordPress photo-blog/shop at http://thripp.com/.

I was shocked finding my website to be down this morning, and read online that you’d suffered a power outage, which is why your phones and website weren’t working either. It was from 10 A.M. to 5 P.M. EST today, Saturday, February 23, that my site was inaccessible. This was a bad time for me, as I’d just completed a print-based advertising campaign that went out to over 2000 people this week, and during the day on Saturday is when my website is busiest normally.

I called in and was told to email you to discuss compensation. It’s not so much the lost sales and ad revenue that bothers me, but rather the distrust and confusion among my clients and readership. The outage came at a bad time for me, so whatever you can offer will be appreciated.


[The “print campaign” started at the beginning of the month; I gave away over 2000 4*6 art prints, with my website on the back, to local art lovers.]

If you were affected, send them a message at csmgr@netfirms.com.

At least I’m back for now. :smile:

2008-02-25 Update: This post has been made at Web Hosting Talk, claiming to be from the president of Netfirms:

Thank you all for your support and patience while we worked on restoring services and fielding inquiries yesterday. I also understand that many of you had to endure a tough Saturday during this service interruption.

All websites are fully functional with data intact and your queued e-mails delivered by now.

To summarize, we experienced a total loss of power at our primary datacenter facility housing the Netfirms corporate sites and a large number of our hosted customer websites. During routine power maintenance by the facility at around 10:30 AM ET, all that redundant power that was supposed to kick in did not. We depend on our datacenter for clean reliable power. Being at a facility with over 18 power generators and housing almost every major carrier in North America, this was hard to swallow. While we got normal power resumed in about an hour, it took us longer to get the network reconfigured and hundreds of servers back online, properly configured.

At our corporate office, with websites being unavailable, we received a massive surge in phone calls, completely overwhelming our call center phone circuits. We had every team member from billing, sales and customer service responding to customers. There are definitely some changes we’ll make to ensure we are able to communicate updates better to you.

Over the past 10 years, our Technology Team has worked hard to ensure everything about our platform is more reliable, functional and redundant including web serving, email delivery, database, dns, file storage, routers, firewalls and network providers. Our Technology team will be making some changes to prevent such an extended service interruption including expanded usage of our secondary datacenter and of course our current power feeds, something we have taken for granted over the years.

If you have any questions, we are here to help.


Thomas Savundra

Netfirms, Inc.

I suppose that sounds reasonable enough. Don’t let it happen again, Netfirms!

Implicit-Association Testing in Practice

Implicit-Association Testing: Does it Have a Place at Your Next Job Interview?
Essay by Richard X. Thripp.
2008-02-20 — http://richardxthripp.thripp.com/essays
PDF version (80 KB).

We live in a society of increasing equity of race, yet there is still something missing. A student surmises: “The modern-day racism that we face takes the form of subtle attitudes that tear a person’s self-confidence apart if they are not able to transcend that” (qtd. in Weller 69), showing that subconscious bias is the primary form of racism that is still with us. Seeing our legislative efforts, such as the abolishment of the “separate but equal” laws with the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and policies of affirmative action in university admissions promoting equality through the 2000s, one may think that “racism” has been completely eliminated in modern America—the very word conjures up blatant acts of discrimination, such as whites murdering blacks in crimes of hate. Unfortunately, most of us continue to unintentionally associate whites with good and blacks with bad, as shown in implicit-association testing, first introduced by Project Implicit of Harvard University in 1998, where seventy percent of the 700,000-plus test-takers (“Race Attitude”) have shown a bias for whites, contrasted with twelve percent favoring blacks (“Race Breakdown”).

Implicit-association testing is an experimental method that tries to reveal biases that are not shown in traditional questionnaires. Project Implicit “has attracted an enormous amount of research interest and debate” (Klauer et al. 353), with the test for racial bias being the most prominent. In one section of the website’s race IAT, the phrases “African American or good” and “European American or bad” appear on two sides of a computer screen. Pictures of black faces, white faces, and words such as “glorious” and “horrible” appear one-after-another, with the test-taker instructions being to match up the items to either side. In all instances, correct answers are not as important as “the difference in reaction times . . . [which] is taken as an indicator of the degree of association between concepts” (Steffens 166); a “strong automatic preference for White people compared to Black people” is the most common result, accounting for twenty-seven percent of the online respondents (“Race Breakdown”).

While currently, the test enjoys only academic and educational use, there is a growing movement supporting its practical applications. Shankar Vedantam of washingtonpost.com writes, “some proponents [say] it would be unethical not to use the test to screen officials who make life-and-death decisions about others,” which presumes the test accurately measures prejudiced attitudes, and that such biases empirically correlate to discriminatory behavior. While calling it unethical is notably extreme, if I were a black man, I surely would not want to be assumed guilty when accused of murder, due merely to my skin color, so the proponents’ proposal may be a sound attack against racism. “Might employers use such tests to weed out potential racists?,” Vedantam asks, further alluding to the possibility that people shown to be biased could be excluded, especially from powerful positions, such as those of judges, jurors, and police officers.

In contrast, Jay Dixit, an author for Slate Magazine, raises a significant dilemma: “If a test shows an applicant is biased, but you have no evidence that he has actually discriminated against anyone, would it really be fair not to hire him?” Mahzarin Banaji, one of the test’s creators, too fears its mainstream usage, as it will be assumed “that people who have high implicit bias scores will always behave in a biased way—which is not the case, since the tests don’t predict behavior with 100 percent accuracy” (Dixit). While the subject is both a debate of ethics and of the test’s merit, I believe that in Dixit’s question, it is indeed wrong to withhold a job on the basis of mere discriminatory thoughts, as the person that shows bias in an implicit-association test has not yet done anything wrong. No doubt, if a private or government employee, for example, exhibits prejudiced actions, a black mark is justified, but even if the IAT was perfect, it is undeserving of practical use per se. We would be discriminating against people who harbor underlying (and usually unintentional) biases, which is wrong just as discriminating against minorities is. Furthermore, the researchers “are wary of having the tests used in lawsuits” and “say they want to keep the focus of the tests on public education and research” (Vedantam), showing that even they see the bad side of using the test as a determination of racism.

The test is not perfect, as Klaus Fiedler and Matthias Bluemke of Germany’s University of Heidelberg have found. When they asked 24 volunteers, who had already taken the test, to try to reverse their results, most succeeded, and “for two experienced experts, it was virtually impossible to identify IAT fakers” (19). Melanie Steffans, of the University of Trier, concludes that “the IAT is not immune to faking,” finding that “In our Experiment 2, there were many individuals who were able to fake the IAT,” and that it “cannot easily be detected” (176). If true, such claims undermine the validity of the IAT in practical settings. Dr. Anthony Greenwald, one of the test’s creators, argues against this, stating that “findings reveal that it is difficult to fake IAT performances” such as a study by De-Yeong Kim (University of Washington), which stated that only “participants who were given explicit strategies” succeeded (92), and even then, they could not “speed up responses in the black + pleasant condition” (92), making the cheaters “likely to be identifiable” (93). Fiedler and Bluemke concluded the opposite, finding that “this slowdown was not too obvious against the background of normal performance variation” (19). There is enough conflicting research that the issue is not settled.

However, what the IAT is for sure is an excellent educational tool. Created by researchers from Harvard University, The University of Virginia, and University of Washington, Project Implicit has been praised in Slate Magazine as “an objective measure of bias” (Dixit), though Dixit notes that there “are good reasons to limit the test’s uses.” Howard Brody, a contributer to The Galveston County Daily News, lauds the test as “a lesson, I suggest, for all of us in America,” which it certainly is. As Dixit so interestingly notes, “just taking [the test] may sometimes be enough to convince people they are prejudiced and should try to change.” It would be a good idea to require prospective jurors, job applicants, and anyone in a company’s human resources department to take the test, and then write an essay about how they will not let their implicit thoughts translate into discriminatory treatment towards ethnic minorities, as long as this assignment is not a determining factor for their job. Racist attitudes can only be stopped through education, discussion, and introspection, not fear. Using the IAT to eliminate candidates for jobs makes it into another test that must be “passed,” but the benefit it yields in the fight on racism is slim to nil, as it does not get to the core issue: why does racism persist? Certainly, the perpetuation of ethnic stereotypes in the media contributes, but it is also caused by our refusal to recognize biases in ourselves and talk openly about them. As observed at Tolerance.org, “if people are aware of their hidden biases, they can monitor and attempt to ameliorate hidden attitudes before they are expressed through behavior” (“Hidden Bias: A Primer”). We do not need more fear of speaking inappropriately or being labeled a racist, but honest discussion about how to see and overcome discrimination, and this is just what the implicit-association test fosters.

Works Cited

Brody, Howard. “The racial prejudice that besets medicine.” The Galveston County Daily News. 20 Feb. 2008 <http://news.galvestondailynews.com/story.lasso?tool=print&ewcd=32fe23e7316ad900>.
Dixit, Jay. “Screen Test: Why we should start measuring bias.” Slate Magazine. 20 Feb. 2008
Fiedler, Klaus, and Matthias Bluemke. “Faking the IAT: Aided and Unaided Response Control on the Implicit Association Tests.” University of Heidelberg. 20 Feb. 2008 <http://knut.psi.uni-heidelberg.de/results/Fiedler_Bluemke_BASP_in_press.pdf>.
Greenwald, Anthony. “Implicit Association Test: Validity Debates.” 20 Feb. 2008
“Hidden Bias: A Primer.” Tolerance.org. The Southern Poverty Law Center. 20 Feb. 2008
Kim, De-Yeong. “Voluntary Controllability of the Implicit Association Test (IAT).” Social Psychology Quarterly 66:1 (2003): 83-96. 20 Feb. 2008 <http://faculty.washington.edu/agg/IATmaterials/PDFs/Kim.SPQ.2003.OCR.pdf>.
Klauer, Karl Christoph, et al. “Process Components of the Implicit Association Test: A Diffusion-Model Analysis.” Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 93.3 (2007): 353-68. Academic Search Premier. 20 Feb. 2008 <http://search.ebscohost.com/>.
“Race Attitude.” Project Implicit. Harvard University. 20 Feb. 2008
“Race Breakdown.” Project Implicit. Harvard University. 20 Feb. 2008
Steffans, Melanie. “Is the Implicit Association Test Immune to Faking?” Experimental Psychology 51.3 (2004): 165-79. Friedrich-Schiller-Universität Jena. 20 Feb. 2008
Vedantam, Shankar. “See No Bias.” washingtonpost.com. 20 Feb. 2008 <http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A27067-2005Jan21.html>.
Weller, James. Prejudice Across America. Jackson: University Press of Mississippi, 2000.

Victor Frankenstein: Trodden Hero or Veiled Villain?

Victor Frankenstein: Trodden Hero or Veiled Villain?
Mary Shelley’s masterpiece analyzed. Essay by Richard X. Thripp.
2008-02-20 — http://richardxthripp.thripp.com/essays
PDF version (80 KB).

Victor Frankenstein suffers decision paralysis in any time of crisis. While valiant in his struggles to create life, he immediately becomes the coward, assuming his creation to be a menace and running from it in terror: “one hand was stretched out, seemingly to detain me, but I escaped and rushed downstairs” (Shelley 51). It’s hard to trust Victor to be a reliable narrator, when he claims helplessness with such vigor, for example, in the second encounter with his monster, he recounts, “I thought of pursuing the devil, but it would have been in vain” (70). When the creature kills little William and frames Justine, Victor does nothing to save her from her unjust execution: “a declaration would have been considered as the ravings of a madman and would not have exculpated her who suffered through me” (76). He is merely pacifying his conscious with a shallow justification.

This aversion to action is a persistent theme throughout the novel. These examples just scratch the surface:
• “I could not answer” (83).
• “The being finished speaking and fixed his looks upon me in the expectation of a reply. But I was bewildered, perplexed, and unable to arrange my ideas sufficiently” (146).
• “I would have seized him, but he eluded me” (172).
• “I was unable to pursue the train of thought . . . and I wept bitterly” (189). Frankenstein finds solace in crying over his dilemma.

This is his flawed argument for destroying the female monster: “she might become ten thousand times more malignant than her mate and delight, for its own sake, in murder and wretchedness” (169). Has Victor not already heard the monster’s lengthy tale of how he became soured on humanity? It is established that the monster’s malice is due to others mistreating him, so Victor’s argument seems merely an excuse to abandon his work.

Dr. Frankenstein continually underestimates the being’s malice and power. Even after two murders, he taunts, “you may torture me, but I will never consent” (146). Is he so blind to not see that he is condemning his friends and family to death, rather than himself? Further, he interprets “I shall be with you on your wedding-night” (172) to mean that Elizabeth is not in danger. He looks ahead: “in that hour I should die and at once satisfy and extinguish his malice,” the only negative being the “tears and endless sorrow, when [Elizabeth] should find her lover so barbarously snatched from her” (173). Victor justifies going forward with the wedding, purporting that the monster will do what he pleases anyway: “he did not consider that threat as binding him . . . he had murdered Clerval immediately” (194). Yet somehow, he is shocked and dismayed when it Elizabeth that is murdered (202). Did he not hear his creature’s pleas for a companion, or is he blind to both apportioned revenge, and the axiom, “misery loves company”? Is not the death of Victor’s wife the most logical revenge for the death of the monster’s would-be wife? The monster promises such revenge outright: “Shall each man . . . find a wife for his bosom . . . and I be alone? . . . Are you to be happy while I grovel in the intensity of my wretchedness?” He goes on to say, “you shall repent of the injuries you inflict” (172), foreshadowing drawn out misery for the doctor, rather than a hasty death. Apparently, Mr. Frankenstein never learns.

Why did Shelley write Victor this way? First, we can identify a literary element: if Victor stops the monster before he commits murders, the book would not be interesting. But it is more—perhaps it is because we are so quick to trust and empathize with Victor, as he is the narrator throughout the tale, that we must come to see, through his indifference, he is actually more evil than his creation. When I first read the book, I pegged Frankenstein as good. Even though he admits to being the murderer several times, such as this lamentation: “I, not in deed, but in effect, was the true murderer” (88), to me, he is only crying for help, like Justine’s coerced confession (81-82). However, through the above analysis, we find that Frankenstein is apt to be an unreliable narrator, biased to support his inaction. His warning of the monster: “he is eloquent and persuasive; and once his words had even power over my heart: but trust him not” (216), may better describe himself. As in legal tort, he has a “duty to rescue” his family from his now malevolent creation, yet he continually ignores it; his best idea is repeatedly shouting “wretched devil!” and “abhorred monster!” (95), followed by promising to create a woman, only to “[tear it] to pieces” (170). For the monster, this is sadistic torment, but the doctor excuses himself again, claiming it to be preferable to “[inflicting] this curse upon everlasting generations” (170). In the words of Edmund Burke, “no passion so effectively robs the mind of all its powers of acting and reasoning as fear,” and I see that Frankenstein is crippled by fear, wavering on any decision. Shelley has written a subtle allegory between the lines: do not believe narration immediately, as even if it appears trustworthy, it is always written in the interests of the narrator. Frankenstein tells us many times that his fate is sealed: “destiny was too potent, and her immutable laws had decreed my utter and terrible destruction” (33), but he really is a man who loves misery—a murderer through negligence, who wishes for pity in his twisted account. He is the real devil.

Going further, there is a connection that suggests Frankenstein subconsciously desires William and Justine to be struck dead. As a youth, he thinks of Elizabeth as “[his] more than sister, since till death she was to be [his] only” (26). In her ominous letter, she writes to the newly homesick Victor, “Justine has returned to us, and I assure you I love her tenderly,” and “little darling William” has “sweet laughing blue eyes, dark eyelashes, and curling hair” (60). His reluctance to pursue the monster (70) or exonerate Justine (76) could be out of selfishness—he will now have Elizabeth’s love all to himself, despite her crushed spirit.

But wait—are you ready to take this to the next level? Maybe, just maybe, Frankenstein and his monster are one in the same. Frankenstein is Dr. Jekyll and the monster is Mr. Hyde, not through a scientific transformation, but dualistic personalities. Whenever the two appear together, be it in their discussions in the mountains, or encounters in the forest or arctic, there is no one around to see them. This quote is merely Frankenstein’s dark side overtaking him: “you are my creator, but I am your master; — obey!” (171). After Elizabeth’s murder, Frankenstein recollects, “I rushed towards the window, and drawing a pistol from my bosom, fired; but he eluded me” (202), followed by the monster vanishing, not to be found even after a search of several hours in and about the lake. Frankenstein himself admits, “we returned hopeless, most of my companions believing it to have been a form conjured up by my fancy” (202). Perhaps this is the truth? Afterwards, Victor mourns, “a fiend had snatched from me every hope of future happiness; no creature had ever been so miserable as I was” (203). Remaining “silent when [he] would have given the world to have confided the fatal secret” (191), I see that the secret is not that he created a monster; the secret is that he is the monster. This intensifies his guilt and seclusion, adds weight to his terrible illness and remorse, and gives truth to the statement he makes in his nightmarish haze: “Justine, poor unhappy Justine, was as innocent as I, and she suffered the same charge; she died for it; and I am the cause of this — I murdered her. William, Justine, Henry — they all died by my hands” (190). This is not the remorse of a moral but self-blaming man, but rather the admission of a bipolar assassin who is tortured by having no one with whom to share his monstrous deeds. When he says about the dæmon: “once his words even had power over my heart” (216), he is talking about the dark side of his conscious. The whole act of creating a woman is to satisfy Frankenstein himself; he realizes that Elizabeth would never be his wife if she knew he was a blood-thirsty murderer, and so he wants a monster so that “we shall be more attached to one another,” “cut off from all the world” (147). I propose that all the references to monstrousness are metaphors for Victor’s black heart, and that Shelley has created a work of art that is truly Romantic; the entire novel miserable and revolutionary, a battle of light versus dark, good versus evil, all wrapped up in one self-contradictory character. Shelley, by writing in such a complex undertone, has given her novel depth; it is infinitely more interesting than the standard good versus bad, white hat versus black hat, or even the edgier hubris (flaw of arrogance). The dualism is in the narrator’s very statements: “Justine . . . was as innocent as I,” yet “they all died by my hands” (190); the inactive reader skips right over it. Frankenstein is the veiled villain.

Work Cited

Shelley, Mary. Frankenstein. New York: Random House, 1992.

Photo: Get Back

Get Back — a man in sunglasses, making the ok hand gesture

A fellow at Daytona Beach College who made the perfect photography subject (sunglasses are always good). It looks like he’s trying to back away, which is the reason for the humorous title. The background is clutted unfortunately, but at least it reveals that the camera is tilted.
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