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Comparing Women's and Men's Fears in Frankenstein and Pet Sematary

Powerful Essays
Comparing Women's and Men's Fears in Frankenstein and Pet Sematary

Childbirth and the resulting mother/child relationship are realities for women that leave plenty of room for anxiety. It is no wonder, then, that these themes of birth and motherhood should be featured prominently in women's horror. In contrast, men's horror tends not to focus on these fears, but, instead, focuses on the act of intercourse (the nuts and bolts of making a baby) and the man's fear of the woman's strange childbearing power. In comparing women's and men's fears on these subjects, one can see what fuels resulting horror texts.

In Frankenstein by Mary Shelly a man gives birth which is very curious when considering Frankenstein as a feminist text. The male mother in this text can be read in different ways. One reading of the phenomena could be man's attempt to control nature can have dire consequences. Upon closer reading, however, one can see that by having a male protagonist in the situation of life-giver, Shelly was allowed to make her fears known to her male contemporaries and at the same time explore her own fears concerning birthing and raising a healthy, productive child.

Mary's focus on the birth process allowed men to understand female fears about pregnancy and reassured women that they were not alone with their anxieties. The story expresses Mary's deepest fears; What of my child is born deformed? Could I still love it or would I wish it were dead? What if I can't love my child? Am I capable of raising a healthy, normal child? Will my child die? Could I wish my own child to die? Will my child kill me in childbirth? Mary was expressing her fears related to the death of her first child, her abilit...

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... of making a child-the aspect of child bearing that they are most directly responsible for. For men birthing and the relationship between mother and child are foreign and consequently characterize what men are afraid of: "the Other."

Works Cited and Consulted

Abrams, M. H., ed. The Norton Anthology of English Literature. 6th ed. Vol. 1. New York: Norton, 1993

Botting, Fred. Making monstrous. Frankenstein, criticism, theory. Manchester University Press, 1991.

Boyd, Stephen. York Notes on Mary Shelley's Frankenstein. Longman York Press, 1992.

King, Stephen. Pet Sematary. New York: Signet, 1984.

Mellor, Anne K. Mary Shelley. Her Life, her Fiction, her Monsters. Methuen. New York, London, 1988.

Shelley, Mary. Frankenstein or the Modern Prometheus. Edited with an Introduction and notes by Maurice Hindle. Penguin books, 1992
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