Monday 5 November 2012
Critical Theory Essay
While many see Mary Shelley as a feminist?MOVE BEFORE “MOVEMENT” FOR CLARITY writer with a large amount of influence in the movement, it is not always clear that she herself was greatly influenced by her mother Mary Wollstonecraft another great feminist. Mary Shelley’s feminist views combined with her mother’s and the reality of her society at the time influenced her writing of Frankenstein in the sense of the relationship between Victor and his creation and the lack of a feminine and maternal aspect to that relationship and also how Victor created much of the conflict and many of the problematic situations throughout the plot coinciding with the feminist belief that men create problems for women. ?OVERGENERALIZATION
While it was widely known that feminist ideals were parts of other Shelley works such as Transformation and The Mortal Immortal (purinton 2), Frankenstein’s feminist message was more deeply embedded, but through the reading of various articles and reviews of the subject I was able to culminate the ideas presented into a single thought. In Frankenstein, the use of the “birth” of Victor’s creation was seen as an “erasure of the feminine” and an “ambition to create life without the other” (yousef 198). Another idea I have come to ponder ?ANSWER BEFORE WRITING is whether or not that her specific use of the relationship between Victor and the “Creation” as a parallel to her view that men in real life are severely lacking in the area of parenting. When the creation is fully reanimated, Victor runs from his creation, much like men still do in today’s society.
I had worked nearly two years, for the sole purpose of infusing life into an inanimate body. For this I had deprived myself rest and health. I had desired it with an ardour that far exceeded moderation; but now that I had finished, the beauty of the dream vanished, and breathless horror and disgust filled my heart. Unable to endure the aspect of the being I had created, I rushed out of the room and continued a long time traversing my bedchamber, unable to compose my mind to sleep. (Shelly 35)
UNPACK OR CONSOLIDATE QUOTATION—IF IT ONLY SHOWS US PLOT—HE RUNS—YOU’VE ALREADY SHOWN US THIS MORE CONCISELY Instead of being a parental figure in the life of his creation as a good mother would, Victor flees leaving it to fend for itself.
An equally prominent idea throughout the novel is the idea of a man bringing all the problems and misfortunes to the people he was close to i.e. the result of Victor not speaking up on behalf of Justine during her questioning and trial that lead up to her execution. Had Victor interjected the fact that he knew she had not killed his brother but that it was in fact his creation; her life would have been spared. He didn’t speak up out of a selfish thought that if he said that his creation really killed his younger brother then he would be socially mocked as well as assigned the blame for creating such an atrocity to nature as his creation was. Another blatant example of how women were treated in a somewhat unequal manner in comparison to that of men. ?UNPACK—EXPLAIN EXACTLY WHAT THIS SHOWS Yet, the blame always seems to reside directly with the men throughout the plot.
Women also were seen as lacking in the areas of education, human nature, and sociality whereas Shelly uses Frankenstein to construct her individual interpretation of masculine knowledge and personhood (yousef 200) and they differ from the expectations of the female community. Shelly displays said interpretations through both Victor and his creation. Each look for their own idea of knowledge and personhood, but never truly find it. Granted the creation gains a large amount of knowledge in short amount of time through simple observation he never becomes completely fulfilled by the means of personhood. This could be paralleled to the means by which women of the time learned and how society accepted them. They were not really properly educated in the same manner of their male counterparts but merely observed from their surroundings. They were not shipped off to fancy boarding schools where they learned the intricateness of the science and math of the age but also the ideals of ancient and modern mythology and philosophy. Women were rarely seen afforded the same opportunities as these. Granted they received some level of education but never upon a colligate level (yousef 201). Their unavailability to be fully educated also brought about them been seen as less a person compared to men. This clashing with the highly educated Victor ,who happens to be the instigator of problematic situations throughout the novel in its entirety, reveals one of the underlining feminist ideas that the men may he superior “schooling” than those of female scholars, but they may not always be superior in the means of sheer intellect and common sense. ?GREAT PARAGRAPH!
Returning to the connection between Shelly’s personal feminist views and those of her mother, the only means through which Shelly ever knew her mother were through her mother’s works, this I’m sure rubbed of quite a bit of feminist ideology. While they are both widely known feminist authors, Shelly somewhat overshadows her mother (from my perspective). However, in locating a position for their textually constructed selves within the public discursive field, Shelley shared a conceptual bond with her mother (purinton 4). I must wonder as to whether or not Shelly pursued such a lifestyle of education and ideology, being one that mirrored her mother so greatly, in order to prove something to herself and society or to attempt to form a connection between her and her mother. I happen to favor that latter of the two hypotheses, given the facts that Shelly’s mother died eleven days she was born and the only way she really knew her mother was through her mother’s works. In means of an ideological base of feminism, however, Shelly was a woman who very much pushed upon the towering walls that confined her much like her mother and the women of the time. Her ideological pushing so many years ago, still brings trembles to the walls that stand today.
JANE AUSTEN AND MARY SHELLY AND THEIR SISTERS. Lanham, Maryland: University Press of America, 2000. Print.
Shelley, Mary Wollstonecraft.Frankenstein. Charlottesville, Va.: University of Virginia Library, 1996. Print.
Purinton, Marjean . "Mary Shelley's Science Fiction Short Stories and the Legacy of Wollstonecraft's Feminism."Women's Studies 30.2 (2001): 147. Print.
Yousef, Nancy; 2002;The Monster in a Dark Room: Frankenstein, Feminism, and Philosophy