Mary Shelley 's Understanding Frankenstein As A Woman 's Book Essay

Mary Shelley 's Understanding Frankenstein As A Woman 's Book Essay

Length: 1188 words (3.4 double-spaced pages)

Rating: Better Essays

Open Document

Essay Preview

In 1985, Moer coined the term ‘birth myth’ to describe Frankenstein as a “woman’s book” about post-natal depression (79), and this idea has since been developed upon. However, the tradition of understanding Frankenstein as a ‘birth myth’ has been primarily considered in light of the biographical details of Mary Shelley’s life and their correspondence with her work. Particular attention has been given to the impact of her mother’s death shortly after Shelley’s birth and the subsequent trauma of the death of her daughter who was born premature (Williams 30). Hence, Moer suggests that ‘no outside influence’, other than Shelley’s personal losses, is necessary to explain the ‘fantasy of a newborn as at once monstrous agent of destruction and piteous victim of parental abandonment’ (85). However, from 1800-1850, the maternal mortality rate averaged, according to records, one in two hundred mothers died in childbirth and this risk increased with every pregnancy (Chamberlain). Moreover, infant mortality rates were also alarmingly high: an estimated ‘244 children in every 1000 died before their fifth birthday’ (Currie 103). This had an understandably severe impact on the ‘psychology of the English family’ (Currie 104):

High birth rates, accompanied by high death rates for children under the age of ten years old, meant that family life was fragile and uncertain… The harrowing grief of mothers and fathers who lost children to disease or accident is indeed all too apparent in diaries and letters of the period (Payne).

Furthermore, the children who were born with defects or deformities were often treated as public curiosities of “monstrous births”. For example, The Scot’s Magazine ran a story entitled an ‘Account of a Monstrous Birth’, featu...


... middle of paper ...


... child’s development could potentially be affected severely and adversely by a mother’s mental state when the baby is developing in the womb. In Mary Shelley’s story ‘Mathilda’, the legacy and impression of the dead mother are clearly passed directly onto her daughter when the ‘mother’s spirit was transferred into her frame’ at the moment of birth (34). While the concept of “original sin” was becoming less accepted – Shelley’s father Godwin did not endorse the idea in his parenting (Sunstein 43) – the idea of “Maternal Impression” placed particular importance on the female role of nurturing the child, not just after it is born, but also in the womb. Thus, Frankenstein is both biologically and emotionally unsuitable for the female role of birth that he usurps; the unnatural labour that takes a physical toll on him may also have adversely affected the unborn creature.

Need Writing Help?

Get feedback on grammar, clarity, concision and logic instantly.

Check your paper »

Frankenstein, By Mary Shelley Essay

- Mary Shelley was the author of many popular books some of these include; Frankenstein, Valperga, The Last Man, and etc. First is Frankenstein, Mary first published this book anonymously in 1818, but in the year 1823 after learning its popularity she published it with her name. This may have aggravated people because women were not respected as much as they are now and they mostly would have preferred it was written by a man. Frankenstein is about a young scientist who goes by the name of Victor Frankenstein....   [tags: Mary Shelley, Frankenstein, Percy Bysshe Shelley]

Better Essays
1390 words (4 pages)

Frankenstein, By Mary Shelley Essay example

- The term ‘Gothic’ is highly amorphous and open to diverse interpretations; it is suggestive of an uncanny atmosphere of wilderness gloom and horror based on the supernatural. The weird and eerie atmosphere of the Gothic fiction was derived from the Gothic architecture: castles, cathedrals, forts and monasteries with labyrinths of dark corridors, cellars and tunnels which evoked the feelings of horror, wildness, suspense and gloom. Frankenstein is a gothic novel of life and death, the point she is making about life and death let the dead recreate the living....   [tags: Frankenstein, Mary Shelley, Gothic fiction]

Better Essays
1131 words (3.2 pages)

Essay about Feminism in Mary Shelley's Frankenstein

- For centauries, women have been forced to live life in the outskirts of a male dominated society. During the 1800’s, the opportunities for women were extremely limited and Mary Shelly does an excellent job in portraying this in her gothic novel, Frankenstein. Furthermore, in this novel, Mary Shelly shows how society considers women to be possessions rather than independent human beings. In addition, the female characters rely heavily on men for support and survival, thus proving their inability to do it on their own....   [tags: Feminism, Mary Shelley, Frankenstein,]

Better Essays
1061 words (3 pages)

Analysis Of Mary Shelley 's Frankenstein And The Tradition Of Realism Essay example

- Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein has a subtitle entitled “The Modern Prometheus” referring to the Greek Titan, foreshadows the similarities between this Titan God of Forethought and Victor Frankenstein God of The Monster. The story initiates the ideals of the creation of human kind. The concept also relates to the quote from Paradise Lost a few lines below the subtitle, “Did I request thee, Maker from my clay/ To mould me man. Did I [solicit] thee/ From darkness to promote me. — (4)”. The biblical suggestion goes on as the original creation of the human race, is like Victor, the original creator of the Monster....   [tags: Frankenstein, Paradise Lost, Mary Shelley]

Better Essays
1042 words (3 pages)

Analysis Of Mary Shelley 's ' Frankenstein ' Essay

- During the Romantic period, women are illustrated as powerless citizens, in the novel entitled Frankenstein written by Mary Shelley. This is displayed where the women posses pure, submissive,gracious,nurturing and selfless qualities. Despite portraying the women as powerless beings, the author does challenge this notion. In this tale, Victor Frankenstein, a scientist, successfully created a living being. Therefore, he eliminated a woman’s biological role to provide life. Additionally, the main narrators in this novel are male dominant and the women are portraits of the male 's perception of them....   [tags: Frankenstein, Victor Frankenstein, Gender]

Better Essays
1117 words (3.2 pages)

The Character of Safie in Mary Shelley's Frankenstein Essay

- The Character of Safie in Frankenstein        Even though she is only mentioned in Mary Shelley's Frankenstein for a relatively brief period, the character, Safie, is very interesting as she is unique from the other characters in that her subjectivity is more clearly dependent on her religion and the culture of her nation. Contrasts can be made between the Orient and the European society which attempts to interpret it. Often, this creates stereotypes such as western feminists that have viewed "third-world" women as "ignorant, poor, uneducated, tradition-bound, religious, domesticated, family oriented, (and) victimized"(Mohanty 290)....   [tags: Frankenstein, Mary Shelley]

Better Essays
1944 words (5.6 pages)

Analysis Of Mary Shelley 's Frankenstein Essay

- Mary Shelly’s Frankenstein is a thought provoking story to read because the subject matter speaks to me. Dark, supernatural and gothic is exactly the style of reading I would choose in my own reading choices. It was only one step from my Victorian Vampire reading to Frankenstein therefore my choice to read the novel was almost a given to me. Several areas that I as a human can relate to are the human nature of each character, the unrelenting revenge the monster feels, and betrayal in the pursuit of self-preservation Victor bestows on his monster, his family, and mankind....   [tags: Romanticism, Mary Shelley, Percy Bysshe Shelley]

Better Essays
1422 words (4.1 pages)

Essay about Mary Shelley's Frankenstein and Structuralism

- Frankenstein and Structuralism    Professor John Lye of Brock University, California describes literary theory as: "a collection of related theoretical concepts and practices which are marked by a number of premises, although not all of the theoretical approaches share or agree on all of them."   The first segment of this essay aims to define the main views of structuralism, one of these theoretical approaches. Structuralism, in particular the work of Ferdinand de Saussure, created controversy as it directly challenged some of the values of the everyday reader in the way it attempts to disregard the actual content of writings, and instead concentrates on form and diagrammatic...   [tags: Frankenstein essays]

Better Essays
1891 words (5.4 pages)

Essay on Archetypes in Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein

- Virtually all literature contain instinctive trends in the human consciousness to represent certain themes or motifs, these are defined as archetypes. Archetypes can be thought as blueprints or as bundles of psychic energy that influence the manner in which we understand and react to life. There are two different categories of archetypes, the plot archetype and the character archetype. The orphan, martyr, wanderer, warrior, magician, villain, wise child, temptress, rebel, underdog, fool, saint, virgin, wise, old man or woman are all considered to be character archetypes....   [tags: Frankenstein Essays]

Better Essays
1076 words (3.1 pages)

Essay on The Evolution of Frankenstein

- The Evolution of Frankenstein Not so long ago, relative to the world at large, in picturesque Geneva not so far from Lake Leman, Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley took part in a not so commonplace "contest". The contest was to write a ghost story. The outcome was Frankenstein; what is considered today to be a classic, one of the first science fiction tales, and a story immortalized many times over in film. And what at its inception was considered little more than the disturbed and ill conceived writings of a woman by some, and a noble if misplaced effort by others....   [tags: Frankenstein, Mary Shelley]

Free Essays
2091 words (6 pages)