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Frankenstein As Mary Shelly Essay, Research Paper

FRANKENSTEIN as Mary Shelley

In the dramatic story, Frankenstein, one man s search for the creation of a human being is depicted. This book, by Mary Shelly, is a Gothic story whose primary characters are all male and there is no central protagonist. However, it may be considered a feminine novel +, for there are many subtexts in the story of Frankenstein that have to do with reproducing human life, and giving birth.

As we analyse the themes that confront Victor in this story we look at trust, conflict, commitment and choice in the way the decision making process is done. The story challenges the traditional ways of life, the bond of love and hate between creator and creation. Frankenstein would thus become the novel that most accurately represents the condition of both men and women. The monster s tragedy is his confinement to the intensities of a one-to-one relationship with his maker, and his separation from other relations.

In Mary Shelley s novel, intense identification exists at the expense of identifying a woman. At best, women are the bearers of the traditional ideology of love, nurturance, and domesticity. Thus, for the monster himself, women become a major problem. The plot focuses not on the image of the hostile father but on that of the dead mother who comes to symbolise to the monster his loveless state. Literally unmothered, he fantasises acceptance by a series of women but all this ends up in violence.

Frankenstein is a very much a novel about giving birth. As Anne Miller writes, By stealing the female s control over reproduction, Frankenstein has eliminated the female s primary biological function and source of cultural power (Mellor 274). According to Mellor, only a female gives birth, but Frankenstein, the male scientist is trying to change this by playing with the order of nature. He wants to give birth in the same way that women do, and thus, change the role of the female in nature. He fears what women can do by giving birth to a child and wishes to change this to control nature and triumph over it. His entire objective is focused on one single event; the birth of the child.

Frankenstein s exploration of the forbidden boundaries of human science does not cause the prolongation and extension of his life, but the creation of a new one. He defines mortality not by living forever, but by giving birth. Birth is a hideous thing in Frankenstein, even before there is a monster. The cause of this is when he collects bones and other human parts from the slaughterhouse and the dissecting room, and through long months of feverish and guilty activity sticks them together in a frame of gigantic size. His entire being is focused on one single event, he wishes for the birth of the child:

I pursued my undertaking with unremitting ardour. My cheek had grown pale with study, and my person had become emaciated with confinement I seemed to have lost all soul or sensation but for this one purpose The summer months passed while I was thus engaged, heart and soul, in one pursuit (Shelley 83).

The tone of the story changes as Frankenstein succeeds in giving birth. The mad scientist locks himself in the laboratory and secretly, guiltily works at creating human life, only to find that he has created a monster.

the miserable monster whom I had created. He held up the curtain of the bed; and his eyes, if eyes they may be called were fixed on me. His jaws opened, and muttered some inarticulate sounds, while grins wrinkled his cheeks I escaped, and rushed down stairs (Shelley 86-87)

Victor terrified continued his procrastination s realising at what point the monster was ugly by saying:

Oh! No mortal could support the horror of that continence. A mummy again invaded with animation could not be so hideous. I had gazed on him while unfinished; he was ugly then; but when those muscle and joints were rendered capable of motion, it became a thing such as even Dante could not have conceived (Shelley 86-87).

Mary Shelly s book is interesting, powerful and feminist in its motif of revulsion against new-born life, and the drama of guilt, and flight surrounding birth and its consequences. She presents Frankenstein as having distinguishable traits of a woman s mind on the subject of birth because its emphasis is set upon what is before birth, but what follows it as well as the worries and traumas of the after birth. These traumas, are traumas that the monster simply acts out by Frankenstein murdering his family, so the monster literally murders Frankenstein s domestic relationships.

Victor Frankenstein is deeply repulsed by the monster he has created. He will do everything in his capacity to be rid of the creature, without success. After several months of running after the monster, Victor dies in the Arctic region and the creature finally demonstrates its feelings:

Will no entreaties cause thee to turn a favourable eye upon thy creature, who implores thy goodness and compassion. Believe me, Frankenstein: I was benevolent; my soul glowed with the love and humanity: but am I not alone, miserably alone? You my creator, abhor me; what hope can I gather from your fellow-creatures, who owe me nothing? They spurn and hate me (Shelley 128).

The creation that contains both a quest for the origins of life and the bond of love and hate between creator and creation has according to Mary Shelley s Frankenstein, a motherly role. Victor Frankenstein follows the three main interaction patterns with many individual characteristics, mostly ambition, stress and very high levels of need. He wanted the pride of being the first man to accomplish the birth or construction of a human being. In the end he dies from his fantasy. He was intoxicated with the so-called greatness of wanting to be a mother and giving birth to a child.


Moers, Ellen. Female Gothic. The Endurance of Frankenstein : Essays on Mary Shelley s Novel. Ed. George Levine and U.C. Knoepflmacher. Berkely: University of California Press, 1974. 77-87.

Mellor, Anne K. Possessing Nature : The Female in Frankenstein. Frankenstein. By Mary Shelley. New York: W.W. Norton and Co., 1996. 274-286.

Shelley, Mary. Frankenstein, The Modern Prometheus ( the 1818 version). Edited by D.L. Macdonald & Kathleen Scherf. Pterborough: Broadview Press, 1998.

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