Feminism In Frankenstein Essay

1773 words - 7 pages

Over the years, the monster in Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein has become universally portrayed in one way: a tall, green-skinned, dumb brute with no language or reasoning abilities. Society has turned the story of Frankenstein into a mere horror story, dehumanizing the monster more than was intended in Shelley’s novel. However, the message of Frankenstein is a far cry from the freak show displayed by the media. While many people may only see Frankenstein as a grotesque story meant to thrill its audience, its purpose goes much deeper as it advocates for the equal rights of women in society.
Perhaps the strongest evidence of feminism in Frankenstein stems from what happens when Victor Frankenstein tries to create life without the help of a woman. In the nineteenth century and before, a woman’s ability to bear children was the one thing that gave her power over man—the one thing women could do that men could not. However, Frankenstein, inadvertently or not, usurps this power from women as he “gives birth” to a living thing. In “Frankenstein and a Critique of Imperialism,” Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak states that “Frankenstein’s apparent antagonist is God himself as Maker of Man, but his real competitor is also woman as the maker of children…In Shelley’s view, man’s hubris as soul maker both usurps the place of God and attempts—vainly—to sublate woman’s physiological prerogative” (263). This interpretation of Frankenstein’s work suggests that in creating a new life, he has taken man’s power a step further by taking the one thing women could be proud to be able to do—childbearing—and turning it into something that was no longer unique to them.
Unfortunately, an action as extraordinary as creating life backfires harshly on Frankenstein. Instead of creating a masterpiece through his scientific work, he created a monster that terrorized him and his loved ones for the rest of his life. It is because of this that Shelley seems to suggest that Frankenstein overstepped his boundaries as a man by trying to create life. In the critique, “Female Gothic: The Monster’s Mother,” Ellen Moers points out that “Frankenstein’s exploration of the forbidden boundaries of human science does not cause the prolongation and extension of his own life, but the creation of a new one. He defies mortality not by living forever, but by giving birth” (220). Clearly Frankenstein realizes he has overstepped his boundaries as a man as those to whom he is closest are killed one by one as a result of the creation of the monster: first his brother William, then Justine, Clerval, Elizabeth, his father, and, ultimately, himself. This could be seen as analogous to men in society during the nineteenth century and before: overstepping their boundaries by creating a patriarchal society. Shelley seems to suggest that if men were to continue to take as much control away from women as they were back then, society would eventually become a “monster” that would destroy everyone.

Find Another Essay On Feminism in Frankenstein

Shelly's Interpretation of Milton's Paradise Lost

897 words - 4 pages Upon reading Mary Shelly's "Frankenstein" and John Milton's "Paradise Lost," an obvious correlation sticks out between the two novels. However, after the obvious "Paradise Lost" reference in "Frankenstein," how much do the stories resemble each other? The correlation doesn't jump out in each novel, but it is definitely alive in the characters and meanings of each book.It is unclear whether "Frankenstein" it is an endorsement or criticism of

Write an essay of not more than 1500 words refering to Great Expectations by Charles dickens and Frankenstein by Mary Shelly, discussing how origins are explored through realist and other conventions

1310 words - 5 pages conventions, repetition of myth and of course predominately realism.Both aithors draw on their own life experiences to shape the novels. Shelly may have drawn on the death of her own Mother in childbirth, and also on her Mother's feminism. It is also suggested that having no name of her own (she was named after her Mother) she was a snameless as Frankensteins monster. Shelly is also influenced by her Father's love of Milton, which was quite commonplace

The Development of Thought on Frankenstein

3523 words - 14 pages details of Mary Shelley’s life and how they are represented in the novel. Among these critiques of Frankenstein and its author different critical approaches are used, such as Mimetic, including feminism and Expressive. Through each of these critical approaches it can be seen that with the passing of time there is more consideration for the details of the novel and it’s innovative nature with less concern and complaint about

Discuss the evolution of the Creature in Mary Shelly's "Frankenstein" and account for its enduring popularity and appropriations

2425 words - 10 pages metaphor for an overreaching society - and representative of the consequences. This creates empathy between readers in Shelley's time and the characters in the book. Similarly, Mary Shelley addresses issues of feminism and socialism, the relevance of which accounts for the established popularity of "Frankenstein" that led to is remakes. People in Shelley's time could have appreciated the irony of the Creatures observations of society leading him to

Consider how the monster is portrayed In Mary Shelley's Frankenstein and the Two film versions of Frankenstein

4474 words - 18 pages The famous novel 'Frankenstein' is known world wide for its horror and intrigue into the aspect of enforcing life into the deceased. It was written by the equally famous Mary Shelley, formally known as Mary Godwin. She was an English author and first published her novel in 1818, but wrote it when she was just 18 in 1816.Mary Godwin was born in 1797 to William Godwin, a writer and freethinker, and Mary Wollstonecraft, the founder of feminism and

Frankenstein - Ideologies of Fire as Knowledge and Creation

1299 words - 5 pages Frankenstein is a diverse novel that confronts the reader with many different ideas and themes. Critics have described the text in many different, depending on their reading of the book. These include as a political allegory, an observation of human accountability, feminism, social prejudices and alienation, and even a narrative of the nature of human life itself. Some of these themes may be in part due to the influence of Shelley's parents

The Gender Roles Instilled in Frankenstein and Candide

1642 words - 7 pages submissive recipients who have little importance to society. Thus, according to Frankenstein and Candide, we can see how feminism represents the oppression of women in both the culture and time period in which the novels were written. In Frankenstein, the role of the women characters was insignificant, thus having a minimal influence on the plot. After they fulfilled their duties in their domestic sphere, they were discarded. Likewise, in

Frankenstein, by Mary Shelley

1409 words - 6 pages attention during the analysis of Frankenstein. Victor acts as a God-like figure as he creates life in the most unnatural way; which naturally contradicts this set of beliefs. This ideology is solidified within Mary Poovey’s essay regarding Shelley’s influence on Romanticism and feminism. “Shelley explodes the foundations of Romantic optimism by demonstrating the egotistical energies necessary to self-assertion – energies that appear to be at the

Frankenstein as a Modern Cyborg?

1563 words - 6 pages Frankenstein as a Modern Cyborg?      The creature ("demon") created by Victor Frankenstein in Mary Shelley's Frankenstein, or, The Modern Prometheus occupies a space that is neither quite masculine nor quite feminine, although he is clearly both created as a male and desires to be in the masculine role. Judith Halberstam describes this in-between-ness as being one of the primary characteristics of the Gothic monster--being in a space

Frankenstein: A Warning Against Masculine Individualistic Freedom

1669 words - 7 pages Frankenstein: A Warning Against Masculine Individualistic Freedom In this commentary, I wanted to examine a little further the implications of a point brought up in the presentation on Mary Shelley's Frankenstein. They briefly suggested that Victor might occupy a space of idealised masculine freedom; given Victor's less than ideal fate and Mary Shelley's Feminism, such a masculine idealisation becomes highly problematic. Victor holds a

Six Degrees Of Enlightenment

969 words - 4 pages London on Feb. 1, 1851. Shelley was an English author and wrote the Gothic horror story Frankenstein. She participated in a famous ghost contest that resulted in Frankenstein and Polidori's The Vampyre which were both “shudder novels”. She adopted much of her father William Godwin’s philosophical ideas and in Frankenstein her conclusion is: man’s obsession with perfection can ultimately end in ruin. Both her parents were famous, her mother was the

Similar Essays

What Are The Female Roles And Responsibilities In Frankenstein?

1146 words - 5 pages many very important articles, which show feminism, the domesticated roles of females, and how females were portrayed in Frankenstein. In the making of Frankenstein, feminism played a big role in the female’s lives. Frankenstein was created while in the middle of woman’s liberation. While reading Frankenstein one would interpret Feminist opinions, which can be seen as unfamiliar to the female characters of the story. In 19th century Geneva, men

An Analytical Essay Of Mary Shelly's Frankenstein

1249 words - 5 pages Frankenstein, or the Modern Prometheus, is written by Mary Shelly in 1818. It is a science fiction describing a brilliant scientist intends to create life as human but a monster is created instead. Themes such as ugliness of the Creature, wrong attitude towards science of Victor Frankenstein, and the support of feminism will be discussed in the essay. To begin with, the ugliness of the being created by Frankenstein is a kind of excess, rather

Feminist Criticism Of Frankenstein And The Yellow Wallpaper

907 words - 4 pages Frankenstein Feminist Criticism Feminism in literature has existed as early as the 16th century, the belief that men and women should have equal rights and opportunities (Shneir, Miram). Throughout history, women have portrayed the idea of feminism in literature, with one of the most famous feminist writers being Mary Shelley. Shelley was born in 1797 into a notable family, with her mother, Mary Wollstonecraft, being a renowned feminist

The Creature Within Essay

971 words - 4 pages for Mary’s novels. Frankenstein, her most famous novel, was first published in 1818, and is nothing more than a glorified journal entry. Characters as well as situations from Mary’s life are all reflected in the attention capturing plot of Frankenstein. Even Mary herself can be found in Victor Frankenstein’s monster. As a creation that never truly got to know his creator, Frankenstein’s monster felt secluded and socially isolated just as Mary