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Discuss The Ways In Which At Least One And Not More Than Two Of The Following Texts Demonstrate And/Or Contradict Barthes’ Theory Of The Death Of The Author: A Christmas Carol, Frankenstein, Strange Case Of Dr Jekyll And Mr Hyde, The Turn Of The Screw.

3134 words - 13 pages

Discuss the ways in which at least one and not more than two of the following texts demonstrate and/or contradict Barthes' theory of the death of the author: A Christmas Carol, Frankenstein, Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, The Turn of the Screw.Your answer must make close reference to Barthes' essay and include evidence of wider secondary reading."The explanation of a work is always sought in the man or woman who produced it, as if it were always in the end, through the more or less transparent allegory of the fiction, the voice of a single person, the author 'confiding' in us." Arguably none more so than in the case of Frankenstein by Mary Shelley. "Frankenstein is a product of criticism, not a work of literature", this is to say that the posthumous fascination with which literary critics have engaged with the tale of monstrous birth over the years has produced such an unfathomable fabric of interpretation, that the criticism itself has become the basis from which to read the original tale. Frankenstein no longer resides within the pages of a book, a story in its own right, but is a tool with which to decipher signs, using evidence to uncover its' reflection of politics, culture, gender and ideology, and as is more common with Frankenstein, to view these issues with/through the subjective gaze of Shelley's own biographical details. To many critics, Frankenstein, at its moment of production, not only acted as a mirror to the culture from which it was born, but also signified the birth of the emphatically 'other'; the literary monster. Suspended in its moment, Frankenstein may comment upon tensions, concepts and ideological conflicts of the time, but is also a model, or trope for transcendent moral discourse. Literary criticism's prodigious efforts over the years to realign and alter the work and its meanings to be understood in light of changes and developments in the world, and to produce from it, interpretations which match the specific views and ideologies of often contradictory schools of criticism, has torn Frankenstein from its original place in time and space. No longer a piece of literature in its own right, but the starting point from which a multiplicity of interpretations are drawn; the author as the mind and soul of a text, and a mind through which the world itself may be read.[1: Roland Barthes, 'The Death of the Author', in Image, Music, Text, New Ed edn. (Fontana Press, 1993).][2: Fred Botting, 'Introduction', in Frankenstein, Contemporary Critical Essays, ed. by Fred Botting(Hampshire, England: Palgrave, 1995), p. 1]Such autobiographical readings were favoured by third-wave, feminist critics of the 1970s. In her essay, 'Female Gothic: The Mother's Monster', Ellen Moers argues that Frankenstein is heavily influenced by Shelley's own simultaneous experiences with birth, motherhood, death and infanticide, a strange and dark relationship from which a "myth of genuine originality" is spawned; a myth whose focus lies far less on...

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