Category Archives: Matthew Richardson

Pens Down


Name: Katie Miller

Seat Number: 121

“For the first time, I felt what the duties of a creator were, and that I ought to render him happy before I complained of his wickedness.”

In the light of Victor Frankenstein’s comment, discuss Mary Shelley’s presentation of creators and creation in Frankenstein.


Creation is a theme which is present throughout Mary Shelley’s “Frankenstein”. The protagonist spends months constructing his masterpiece, secure in the knowledge that its unveiling will announce his genius to the world. It is at the eventualsparking of life that Frankenstein realises the horror of his creation and begins to regret the thoughtlessness with which he pursued his goal. Frankenstein does not learn from his error, however. Construction of a second creature is begun before the protagonist fully understands the selfishness of his actions.
+++++This self-centredness is in marked contrast to the creature who from an early stage in his existence seeks to integrate with the world, albeit unsuccessfully. The monster laments “I, the miserable and the abandoned, am an abortion…” He lacks a teacher, someone to nurse him into the world, and is forced to spy on a family to raise himself to a social level he considers appropriate to communicate with others. It is this difference between creator and created that forms the backbone of the narrative.
+++++Frankenstein is less concerned with responsibility than with the ambition to see himself placed on a pedestal above his scientific peers. Reckless aspiration is considered to be another major theme in the novel, but are the parents of modern-day children really that much different? Do their thoughtless creations do them any more credit?
+++++A quick glance around the exam hallprovides an answer. No.
+++++Exhibit one sits in my seat. A testament to my parents’ ordinary looks, I nevertheless seem to have cherry-picked the worst features from both, combining mum’s lank, mousey hair and lack of tits with dad’s overbite and cocktail-stick-thin legs. Add teenage acne bubbling away on my skin like molten lava and we’ve got ourselves a real horror show; the kind that makes boysstep back involuntarily on meeting me.
+++++This being a high school, I don’t have to look far for the next genetic mistake. Eugene Williams sits a few seats in front of me, huge sections of his arse hanging over each side of the chair like a bulldog’s jowls and sweat beading on his mushy forehead. Eugene is a guaranteed fail in this exam but the school forces him to sit here and humiliate himself, just to make sure.Next to him is Ruth Whitelaw. Aleper even amongst us geeks, she shat herself on the third year field trip to the science centre after swapping her lactose-free lunch for an egg and cress baguette.
+++++We were all born of our creators’ desire for happiness, not their urge to make us happy. My sitting here in this drab prison is a testament to that. Mum will probably be sitting in the sunlit living room with her book now, the mantelpiece clock tick-tocking contentedly. Contrast her and that with me and here-a child’s toy wound up and set down on the assembly hall floor to perform in front of bored invigilators. Do well and it’s all down to my parents’ shrewd tutoring. They’ll smile as my achievements are listed at their friends’ dinner parties, all the while stacking up cheese and crackers and glugging back red wine. Perform badly, however, and it will be entirely down to my own failure to prepare/hormones/too much TV (delete as necessary according to parents’ particular mood).
+++++They will not be quite so fucking smug after today. I have to lean slightly to my right to see it;a mother checking her infant in its cot.I patiently await its wakening.My creation.
+++++A teacher walks past the air vent at the base of the stage and my toes curl up in my plain black shoes. He doesn’t look. I’m not particularly worried though-I can think of nowhere better for it. I’ve lost count of the times I have had to sit in the assembly hall and watch the social elite of the school parade in plays, musicals, fashion shows etc.etc.etc. on that stage. I’m expected to be grateful simply to be in the same fucking room as them. For their acts to shine a ray of sunlight upon my drab little life.
+++++Such an alpha-arsehole is sitting to my left. I sneak a look at him.
+++++Strong jawline. Tick.
+++++Rugby player shoulders. Tick.
+++++Baby blue eyes and artfully messed hair. Tock.
+++++And then he looks! He actually looks! Olly Beddingfield actually looks at me. One hand buried in that shock of dirty blonde hair, he scansthe room briefly, pen still going like mad. It is only a dart of the eyes, but I know what it means-shared pain, shared frustration. Maybe the glance was to admit that although we are separated by the stupid rules of school society, they are all that divide us. That under different circumstances we would have been friends. That only in this exam hall, where appearance and status count for nothing, can we share something.
+++++I wait for his next look up. I’ll blow my cheeks out, raise my eyes to the ceiling, and maybe even mime a gun to the side of my head. We’ll share a small smile. Perhaps he’ll shake his head at my nerve before returning to his paper, a smirk still tugging at his mouth. That moment will lay the foundation of something. We’ll have a past; a shared experience; something to build from.
+++++But he doesn’t look again.Prick.
+++++And why would he? What has he to gain from interacting with social kryptonite like me? I’m barely a blip on his radar, hardly a footnote in his high school yearbook.Any smile coming from him isn’t by way of friendship. It’s to take the piss out of me for my cheap clothes and the fact that my stupid parents won’t let me wear makeup to cover my acne. His high school persona, polished and perfected, ensures him a flock of simpering female admirers and back-slapping jocks.
+++++“No-one is perfect,” my mum would say, and in this at least she is right. Everyone has a doubt about themselves; something hidden, something secret. I look at the clock out of the corner of my eye. Nearly time. I keep expecting to hear a rusty mechanism turning over or for someone’s attention to be caught by a blinking red light. It doesn’t work that way though. Relax. Soon the complicated social circuitry of high school, with its jealousies and petty intrigues, its bullying and cruel, CRUEL fucking mockery, will be overloaded.
+++++I set my jaw every time a teacher’s eyes brush over me. I needn’t bother. Blank, vacant expressions tell me that I could probably start dancing the can-can without attracting attention. Cheap polyester suits and sagging guts speak of thwarted ambition and poorer-than-expected degrees. It’s all about going through the motions with the staff here. Just make it through the tantrums and protractor stabbings until lunch, then make a run for the staffroom.
+++++I, of course, am as anonymous to the teachers as I am to the other students. Time is spent on the show-offs, the violent and the plain stupid, with anyone capable of thinking for themselves being left alone to do exactly that. I swear I saw Mr. Grainger glance down to make sure of my name before running through his kids-that-don’t-cause-me-much-hassle spiel at parents’ evening. “Quiet”, “well behaved”, “hard worker”, “will go far if she continues like this”.I could probably write this paper in my own blood and it still wouldn’t raise an eyebrow. Pupil causes no problem leads to teacher writing good report leads to parents swelling with pride-the OFSTED triangle.
+++++Any assessment of me after today will read quite differently. Breaking news reports will be followed by profiles and opinion pieces, perhaps on violent video games and the dangers of YouTube. Local TV stations will show footage of students sobbing into each other’s arms outside the school gates whilst smoke still rises from the assembly hall. People who sat next to me in chemistry and geography will strain to remember the last time they spoke to me whilst telling reporters that I “just seemed so normal”.

Five minutes.

Normal will take on a new meaning after today though. I’m not so soppy as to think that my actions will bring people together. Creating something artificial is, as Frankenstein found, a shite idea. Rather it will separate them into more suitable groups. Me, the fanatic, the outcast, the monster; and the rest of the school.

Two minutes.

People will realise that Olly’s jawline and Marissa Bench’s flawless skin are all just pieces of flesh to be mopped up along with Eugene’s arse (admittedly in differing quantities). Flying stage splinters, shards of window glass and whirling desk legs will see to it that no-one will come out of this as prom kings and queens. There will be no open casket funerals. None of them will be lonely though. They will be forever bound; Olly, Marissa, Ruth, Eugene, Mr. Grainger and all the rest.

It’s time…

Pens down.

You appear to be making good progress Katy. You approach the subject matter thoughtfully and create a sound argument within your essay. You are a hard-working student and with sufficient revision before your real exam you should do very well.

Mr. Grainger