Feminism in Frankenstein Essay

Feminism in Frankenstein Essay

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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 Franken...


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...o the male monster since she may not be “feminine” enough, or c) not find the male monster attractive and mate with ordinary males. All of these things center around a fear of a female’s ability to reproduce and a fear of a female’s ability to choose her own path. Shelley suggests that the impact of these things is what frightens men, making them feel like they must dominate women to avoid any of the negative implications of them.
Though Frankenstein may seem like just another horror story, a closer look at its message indicates a strong presence of feminist themes. Through Victor Frankenstein’s thoughts and actions, one can easily see Shelley’s intention of revealing men’s fears toward strong women in society. While it may have not been able to change the place of women in society, Frankenstein is step toward unveiling the hidden strength of a woman’s voice.

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