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Scheherazade
09-05-2007, 08:51 PM
Frankenstein by Mary Shelley

We are all familiar with the story of Frankenstein: Dr. Frankenstein works night and day in an ambitious bid to create another living being. However, when he completes his task, he is taken aback because in his eyes his creature is nothing more than a 'monster'. The creature, abandoned by his 'creator', leads a desperately lonely life: his ugliness makes everyone hate him and, in return, he learns to hate as well.

This is a very touching and beautifully told story, charm of which is hardly captured in movies. It is much more than a mad-scientist-trying-to-create-a-monster-at-any-cost story. Shelley also investigates some philosophical/religious questions: What are/should be the relationship between the 'Creator' and the 'Created'? Is a Creator justified to cast away his creation because it does not turn out to be the way he desired? What are the responsibilities of a Creator? Is he not supposed to provide for and make sure that his Creation is fully equiped to deal with its environment?

In some ways, it is a book ahead of its time. The issues raised by the creation of 'the Creature' can be connected to some recent discussions such as 'genetic modification'. Is it OK to play 'God' and to what degree?

Another striking aspect of the book is that, along with Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde and Dracula, although it is one of the first examples of the 'modern' horror genre, it does not resort to gruesome detailing of 'horror' elements. There is no open violence and bloodshed even though it is implied in these books. They mostly concentrate on the psychological and social aspects, questioning the effects of such occurances on individuals - unlike today's horror books, which go to any length to shock and 'scare' the reader by describing physical violence.

10/10 KitKats!

JCamilo
09-05-2007, 11:28 PM
I would like to say that the are we allowed to play God is more related to moderm perceptions of the book than anything. Mary was deeply conected with the philosophers of her time (being her and Percy atheists or losely religious to worry with god) and Rousseau and his education system. They had not problem with science at their time.

Admin
09-26-2007, 10:20 PM
I hated Frankenstein, I remember reading it in highschool and writing a scathing book review on it. My main problem was that it was obvious the author was trying to make us feel sorry for the monster, in a very contrived sort of way. I took exception to this because no matter how he was creator and how little love he received he killed many innocents. The plot was very "movie of the week."

Lote-Tree
09-27-2007, 05:46 PM
Frankenstein by Mary Shelley

We are all familiar with the story of Frankenstein: Dr. Frankenstein works night and day in an ambitious bid to create another living being. However, when he completes his task, he is taken aback because in his eyes his creature is nothing more than a 'monster'. The creature, abandoned by his 'creator', leads a desperately lonely life: his ugliness makes everyone hate him and, in return, he learns to hate as well.

This is a very touching and beautifully told story, charm of which is hardly captured in movies. It is much more than a mad-scientist-trying-to-create-a-monster-at-any-cost story. Shelley also investigates some philosophical/religious questions: What are/should be the relationship between the 'Creator' and the 'Created'? Is a Creator justified to cast away his creation because it does not turn out to be the way he desired? What are the responsibilities of a Creator? Is he not supposed to provide for and make sure that his Creation is fully equiped to deal with its environment?

In some ways, it is a book ahead of its time. The issues raised by the creation of 'the Creature' can be connected to some recent discussions such as 'genetic modification'. Is it OK to play 'God' and to what degree?

Another striking aspect of the book is that, along with Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde and Dracula, although it is one of the first examples of the 'modern' horror genre, it does not resort to gruesome detailing of 'horror' elements. There is no open violence and bloodshed even though it is implied in these books. They mostly concentrate on the psychological and social aspects, questioning the effects of such occurances on individuals - unlike today's horror books, which go to any length to shock and 'scare' the reader by describing physical violence.

10/10 KitKats!

Yes. Excellent book. Bleak. But I enjoyed very much.

Opening quotation in the book sets off the challenge:

'Did I request thee Maker from my clay to mould me man?

LadyWentworth
09-27-2007, 06:12 PM
I read it when I was 14. I was a little afraid at first, I will admit. You have to consider my only knowledge of the story was Boris Karloff. I was pleasantly surprised by it. Sure he did some terrible things, but as time went on, Shelley made him human. I was impressed by the way that she did it, how his character evolved from the one to the other.

Has anyone ever read Shelley's The Last Man? This story was much more interesting to me than the other, but I must admit that Frankenstein was the story that got me interested in her other writings.

Brandyblue
10-12-2007, 09:52 PM
I think one angle to understand the book from is Mary Shelly's relationships with her own care givers. Her mother died 10 days after Mary Shelly was born. Mary Shelly had an excellent relationship with her governess, but her father sent the governess away when Mary Shelly was only three. The governess was replaced by a stepmother who was very unkind both to Mary Shelly and to Mary Shelly's father. I guess there is enough there to cause Mary Shelly a lot of grief, and also some uncertainty about who is to blame for what. Parallels can be drawn between her experiences and Frankenstein's (happy in his family relationships, but all is lost) and also between Mary Shelly's experiences and the monster's. (Despair, undeserved mistreatment, abandonment.)

If I remember correctly, we don't even know what really happened to the monster between the day he was made and the day he met Frankenstein again. Frankenstein hears the monster's story, but does not believe it. Did the monster lie or tell the truth? This ambiguity may reflect the uncertainty Mary Shelly felt (I assume) about who was to blame for her own suffering. Children often blame themselves for family situations they cannot control. She could also (irrationally) blame her mother for not being there for her, her governess for leaving, her father for sending the governess away, her step mother for replacing the governess and for being cruel. She may even have blamed herself for blaming her father. After all, she had much to be grateful to him for.

Not that I am dismissing the religious aspect of the Frankenstein-Monster relationship. With respect to JCamilo, it was Mary Shelly who put the religious language in the story. I assume she did so on purpose. She may have been interested in this religious issue, even if she was not herself religious.

JCamilo
10-12-2007, 10:30 PM
There is no lack of respect, no worries.
She didn't put religious language, She put Miltonian Language, there is a difference there. Neither the monster or Frankstein are anything but literary beings, neither was truly mystical.

Brandyblue
10-13-2007, 12:06 AM
She put Miltonian Language, there is a difference there. Neither the monster or Frankstein are anything but literary beings, neither was truly mystical.

The parables of Jesus refer to religious teachings while discussing non-mystical things. So why would you think that Dr Frankenstein's and the monster's non-mystical status means that the book can have no religious meaning? You lost me there. Perhaps I am not understanding what you mean my literary and mystical.

You lost me again with the Miltonian language thing. Mary Shelly must have known that Milton's writings are religious. At least the better known ones are. By choosing Miltonian language, she would inevitably suggest religion to her readers. She must have known that too, and done it deliberately.

Certainly the religious implications are not lost on the monster. When he read Paradise Lost, he compared himself both to Adam and Satan. He even drew a direct parallel between his relationship with Frankenstein and humanity's relationship with God.

"Accursed creator! Why did you form a monster so hideous that even you turned from me in disgust? God, in pity, made man beautiful and alluring, after his own image; but my form is a filthy type of yours, more horrid even from the very resemblance."

http://www.online-literature.com/shelley_mary/frankenstein/15/

Unless I very much miss the mark, the reference to "filthy type" is a dreadful inversion of the bilbical teaching that humanity was made in God's image.

JCamilo
10-13-2007, 04:31 PM
The parables of Jesus refer to religious teachings while discussing non-mystical things. So why would you think that Dr Frankenstein's and the monster's non-mystical status means that the book can have no religious meaning? You lost me there. Perhaps I am not understanding what you mean my literary and mystical.

1001 Nights also are about teaching, there is nothing to do with religion. Using a theme that appears in a religous text is not the same as talking about religion.


You lost me again with the Miltonian language thing. Mary Shelly must have known that Milton's writings are religious. At least the better known ones are. By choosing Miltonian language, she would inevitably suggest religion to her readers. She must have known that too, and done it deliberately.

Actually, she could have used anything and yet people see something religious in her text. She just can not tell what kind of interpretation she will generate. She in other hand was not using Milton to suggest anything mystical or religious. That is her difference from Milton.


Certainly the religious implications are not lost on the monster. When he read Paradise Lost, he compared himself both to Adam and Satan. He even drew a direct parallel between his relationship with Frankenstein and humanity's relationship with God.

He is talking about Milton. He is someone cast away from "Heaven" by his father. That is what she is talking about. When the monster refers to this or god (as frankstein) they do not think about faith, dogmas, eternal life, sin, guilty.


"Accursed creator! Why did you form a monster so hideous that even you turned from me in disgust? God, in pity, made man beautiful and alluring, after his own image; but my form is a filthy type of yours, more horrid even from the very resemblance."

As the example you posted, He refers to God because this is a cultural trait. Only because someone refer to god, it does not mean something religious otherwise we would think she is talking about Greek Religion too, since she refers to a greek god in her title.
In fact, the title says much about her relation with God, she is talking about someone taking a power away from God and In fact, I only said the book cointain no criticism in the sense Man should not do it.

http://www.online-literature.com/shelley_mary/frankenstein/15/


Unless I very much miss the mark, the reference to "filthy type" is a dreadful inversion of the bilbical teaching that humanity was made in God's image.

Again, Christian (or jew) religion is not the images their literature use, but the spiritual teaching. Of course the monster uses metaphors and references to texts that had references to religion.
Frankstein itself is not. There is a difference about using or not references contained in religious texts and writing a religious text.

Brandyblue
10-15-2007, 08:41 PM
Again, Christian (or jew) religion is not the images their literature use, but the spiritual teaching. Of course the monster uses metaphors and references to texts that had references to religion.
Frankstein itself is not. There is a difference about using or not references contained in religious texts and writing a religious text.


Okay, now I understand you. I agree that Frankenstein is not a religious text as such. I expect that we are not working with the same definition of religious. Mary Shelly explored certain themes in religious terminology. The book is "religious" only in that sense, which is the sense I was using. It does not mean that she endorsed belief in Christianity or any other faith.

Of course this does not rule out the possibility that she made use of the religious language because she was exploring her feelings about religion. After all, you don't have to be religious to have an opinion about religion. Frankenstein may or may not be "religious" in that sense too.

JCamilo
10-15-2007, 10:22 PM
It may be (although I consider unlikely because of Shelley influence, he was the kind of rebel and such, but since I am not sure...)
Anyways, I would like to point also, since we agree, that in my original post I pointed only that the religious implication of Science vs. Religion (something we face now with the cloning, etc) was not part of the book and a rather later view caused by the portrait of Victor as mad scientist (we know he is not any of that) in the movies and a somehow morality that was developed in the XIX century after Mary's time.
I suppose the theme of father-son relationships can always be seen as religious even if we do not want to.

Michael T
04-24-2009, 05:54 PM
An interesting point for literature detectives to note is that there are no mothers in this story. Noticeable by there absence...what is Mary Shelly saying?

Stargazer86
04-24-2009, 07:16 PM
I quite enjoyed the story when I was younger, but when I re read it as an adult, I found the writing itself disappointing. The plot and characters are fantastic, especially for the time in which they were written. That book was quite ahead of its time. I just don't like Shelly's writing style. I found it a bit disjointed.
My boyfriend got a classic kid's version of the story from Barnes and Noble for his son and I read it to him a couple years back. I think its very important for all kids to read these classics.
I haven't read it since I was 16 or 17 though. I may do so again soon.

JCamilo
04-25-2009, 05:35 PM
An interesting point for literature detectives to note is that there are no mothers in this story. Noticeable by there absence...what is Mary Shelly saying?

That (lack of)reponsabity lies with men, since they are the rulers until then.
I wish Mary is that obvious, she may just not using a mother because her own problems...

miyagisan
04-26-2009, 10:15 AM
I hated Frankenstein, I remember reading it in highschool and writing a scathing book review on it. My main problem was that it was obvious the author was trying to make us feel sorry for the monster, in a very contrived sort of way. I took exception to this because no matter how he was creator and how little love he received he killed many innocents. The plot was very "movie of the week."

Many feminist criticisms would actually refute that Shelley intended the monster to be the sympathetic character.


An interesting point for literature detectives to note is that there are no mothers in this story. Noticeable by there absence...what is Mary Shelly saying?

This has to do with what I said above. All traditional female characters are passive. But, Victor can be seen as a synthesis of male and female (really this is impossible not to do, given the maternal language Shelley uses to describe Victor's "labours"). I would say that Victor embodies exactly the type of ambiguous gender that modern feminism champions - Cixous, Moi, Kristeva, etc. seek characters which break down the (according to them) "patriarchal" and "phallocentrically" imposed gender roles. Barbara Frey Waxman's essay "Victor Frankenstein's Romantic Fate: The Tragedy of the Promethan Overreacher as Woman" talks about this.

As for the book in general, I would say that aesthetically I don't find it spectacular, but as a literary text it is fantastic. Its complexity far surpasses many books that are far more revered than Frankenstein, and it is brimming with intertextuality which titillates English lit majors like myself. It's really a Deconstructionist's dream book - outwardly classic Romantic Gothic and inwardly revolutionary.

LitNetIsGreat
04-28-2009, 04:56 AM
Stunning novel. I'm shocked to see that it has not been rated higher by people on this poll. Eclipses Dracula and J&H for me by a long way.

JCamilo
04-28-2009, 08:51 AM
Dracula, yes. J&H, hell no. One of the reasons that is but ridiculous to suggest that Percey that wrote Frankstein instead of Mary is that the text is very flawed to be his. The same reason applies to J&H, Stevenson is a much better narrator than Mary, his capacity to suggest many things and yet pick just enough words is everywhere in J&H, hell, he was able to hide that they are one and the same until the end, most people thinking it was a normal policial novel until the end.

LitNetIsGreat
04-28-2009, 09:48 AM
Well I suppose it is all down to individual opinion and all. I am a fan of J&H don't get me wrong, but I just find Shelley's prose stunning and feel that the novel has great depth and an agonising sense pathos and feeling.

JCamilo
04-28-2009, 04:15 PM
I understand you like more Frankstein, it is all fair. But it is not a matter of opinion that Stevenson prose is just more refined than Mary.
Of course, both, are, philosophy wise, powerful pieces. Stevenson also. This, Mary have nothing behind anyone.
Dracula is just the worst of two, theme and execution wise.

LitNetIsGreat
04-29-2009, 07:58 AM
I would have to disagree about it not being a matter of opinion regarding Stevenson's and Mary's prose. I think even if we take away all elements of each story Mary's writing is quite beautiful and flowing and better than Stevenson's in my opinion. It is a shame that she didn't write much else apart from a short children's story called Maurice. I rate both but for me Mary Shelley is the better writer based upon Frankenstein.

As regards to Dracula I think it is an excellent first third, but falls dramatically after that, at least in places. Overall it is a good text but way behind Frankenstein in terms of quality. Stoker also never managed to write anything else of significance and after reading a few short stories of his he doesn't overly impress there too.

I think most people would be spilt between Frankenstein and J&H to be honest and from there it is just opinion and preference of style.

JCamilo
04-29-2009, 09:36 AM
Mary wrote more than Maurice and Frankstein, included one of the first apocalyptic modern stories, the Last Man. Interesting enough, it is a bit bitter also even anti-romantic, but it just shows more of her flaws too. I think it is rather easy to find.
You see, if you try to argue why Shelley prose is better, it is not more a matter of opinion, it is ?:D
Anyways, Shelley does not flow so easily, sometimes her syile is a bit heavy, slowing the text, trying to impress with effects more than narrative. Stevenson never had such flaw, his prose was one of the most clean and agile proses of the XIX century, know all too well clean the text to the basic without giving only action - his characters are rich enough, as the dialogues. He had more resources also, chaning themes and forms like Mary never did (maybe she could, she wrote much less than him, so she could not refine her technique). It is no wonder that Henry James called Stevenson the perfect narrator because with him the words seemed always the be in the perfect place at the perfect time. Another evidence is that Stevenson influence is stronger than Mary, exactly because of his precise prose. Which is not way something against Mary, but I bet much of the low ranking of Frankstein that surprised you here is caused by it. It is a strong book.
One of the flaws of J&H is his fame. Stevenson gives us a surprise final, but today everyone knows the relation between Jekyll and Hyde, and the impact is different. A little of oblivion would be helpful to J&H. Also, both Frank and Jekyll face the problem of cinema, who banalized the works, and focused on themes (mad scientists playing god and the transformation of the doctor) who are not relevant to the original works, or even, almost absent.
Anyways, potato, potato...
Dracula good parts (indeed the "gothic" initial part) is exactly the stuff Stoker borrowed from other sources mostly, funny enough. The middle of the romance (the london part) is indeed a mess and in the end time x space is in a bubble... Very flawed indeed. Nowhere near Frankstein or J&H.

LitNetIsGreat
04-30-2009, 06:19 PM
Oh great I will check out The Last Man then, I didn't know about that.

Interesting you say that Shelley does not flow so easily, for to me she does. She flows beautifully and I would place the novel in my top 5, maybe top 3 because of it. Of course I am not merely identifying personal like with critical like, I would place Frankenstein very high up there in terms of English novels, definitely above the little short story by, what's his name, something Steven? :D

I would place the lower ranking on here of Frankenstein due to the style of the prose with most people being used to short sentenced contemporary novels. With. Sentences. Like. That. And similes expressing things as blue as the sky. Ouch! :p

I would champion Frankenstein in the top 20 novels written in English of all time. I would put that little short story you like at around 90/100.

At least we seem to totally agree on Dracula. :thumbs_up

Of course this ranking business doesn't mean much, but you get the general idea of what I am talking about.

Edit: actually when you look at the ratings on here it is quite high really with 40% of people giving it 4/5 or more.

wateredwhisky
04-30-2009, 07:15 PM
An interesting point for literature detectives to note is that there are no mothers in this story. Noticeable by there absence...what is Mary Shelly saying?

There is one mother, which is Victor's own. Her death is one of the things that prompts him to start his research to revivify flesh. It's almost certain that his animalistic obsession with his project stems from the loss of his mother. Then the adopted sister (sorry, I can't remember her name) fills in that "mother" role and she eventually becomes the target of the Wretch's oedipal rage.

It is funny, however, that Victor's actions effectively supplant the role of woman in procreation, and then the wretch exacts the real consequences of Victor's tinkering.

JCamilo
05-01-2009, 10:17 AM
At least we seem to totally agree on Dracula. :thumbs_up

Of course this ranking business doesn't mean much, but you get the general idea of what I am talking about.

Edit: actually when you look at the ratings on here it is quite high really with 40% of people giving it 4/5 or more.

I would say that even Dracula still a great book. If Stoker is flawed in the narrative aspects of the book, he still manages to hide dracula too well increasing the effect of his evil. I would not rank Frankstein that high, but It is just a matter of numbers and it always depends on what we consider for the ranking. Frankstein themes are certainly a top one. From science, pedagogy, alienation...
The appeal of those books will always grant them a higher popular rank, something that I doubt Joyce or Melville will receive.
About Last Man, Lovecraft ranks it highly as one of the best horror novel of XIX century.

Janine
05-01-2009, 03:01 PM
This is a very touching and beautifully told story, charm of which is hardly captured in movies. It is much more than a mad-scientist-trying-to-create-a-monster-at-any-cost story. Shelley also investigates some philosophical/religious questions: What are/should be the relationship between the 'Creator' and the 'Created'? Is a Creator justified to cast away his creation because it does not turn out to be the way he desired? What are the responsibilities of a Creator? Is he not supposed to provide for and make sure that his Creation is fully equiped to deal with its environment?

In some ways, it is a book ahead of its time. The issues raised by the creation of 'the Creature' can be connected to some recent discussions such as 'genetic modification'. Is it OK to play 'God' and to what degree?

Another striking aspect of the book is that, along with Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde and Dracula, although it is one of the first examples of the 'modern' horror genre, it does not resort to gruesome detailing of 'horror' elements. There is no open violence and bloodshed even though it is implied in these books. They mostly concentrate on the psychological and social aspects, questioning the effects of such occurances on individuals - unlike today's horror books, which go to any length to shock and 'scare' the reader by describing physical violence.

10/10 KitKats!

Scheherazade, I commend you on your comments on Frankenstein; what you have written is excellent and I agree with you assessment. I was wavering between voting for the highest and next highest; this is sort of why I sometimes dislike rating book or movies with a number system; but I voted for "unplug the phone..." haha... that one always makes me laugh. Personally, I have read the book twice and I probably would venture to read it a second time; I love the book. I recently listened to a condensed narration, audio, and enjoyed that very much, as well. I may have held back from the highest score, because I do think the plot has some minor flaws, or perhaps leaves out some details, that would better explain some things about the monster; however, I may be very wrong about that, because we don't know all and this makes for more mystery and conjecture. I agree, if one looks at the novel in the context of the time-frame, then it all makes perfect sense and it is as you said, a book far 'ahead of it's time'. Another thing one cannot refute, is that this book is very unique; also, that such a young woman wrote it; this part still amazes me; Mary Shelley had a wonderful imagination. The restraint, in use of blantant violent details, is absolutely necessary to build up suspense and keep one wondering, long after the final page is turned. I am pleased she used that restraint and kept this book inline with the others you mentioned, that merely suggest the creepiest of the horror. Frankenstein is a horror fiction, true; it is not realistic; but to me it does it's job and goes beyond mere horror to become a wonderfully thought provoking book; which in many aspects, does still apply to the moral questions looming up for scientists and the public today. Therefore, this book remains timeless. It continues to fascinate me.

wessexgirl
05-01-2009, 03:26 PM
I have just brought home Frankenstein on audio today, to listen to over the holiday, as I've been meaning to read it for a while, and will hopefully get around to the book at some point. Unfortunately it's abridged, but on the plus side it's narrated by Kenneth Branagh, (steady there Janine ;)), and I'm looking forward to it. I am planning on reading Peter Ackroyd's novel, The Casebook of Victor Frankenstein, so I wanted to read the original first.

Oh, I've just realised that I already have it on audio, narrated by another actor, and forgot......:blush:. Oh well, I can listen to both :).

Dark Lady
05-06-2009, 05:17 AM
Another thing one cannot refute, is that this book is very unique; also, that such a young woman wrote it; this part still amazes me;

That is what makes this novel great for me. Yeah some of the writing is clunky and yes some of the plot turns and allusions are a bit obvious but considering how young Mary Shelly was when she wrote Frankenstein I think she did remarkably well.

alastor
05-18-2009, 11:00 AM
It's funny seeing how Percy edited Mary's original text, for example altering some of her terms for polysyllabic equivalents. I read about this in the Norton publication of the book, it has a list of Mary's choices and a list of Percy's. Nonetheless I agree for her age it is remarkable. She was a *cough* kate bush of the 19th century...

...It could be argued.

Night_Lamp
07-16-2009, 11:37 PM
Frankenstien is an allegory for the oppressed Victorian woman...

Gladys
07-17-2009, 07:36 AM
Frankenstein is an paean to beauty. For aesthetes like the Shelleys: beauty seems truth. And aren't Felix and Agatha De Lacey and his love, Safie, truly beautiful people?

Or is it a satire on beauty?

JCamilo
07-17-2009, 09:27 AM
While Mary Shelley was a feminist after all she is the daughter of one of the early feminists, obviously a book written before the victorian age can not be an allegory for anything related it.

JBI
07-17-2009, 05:45 PM
While Mary Shelley was a feminist after all she is the daughter of one of the early feminists, obviously a book written before the victorian age can not be an allegory for anything related it.

How feminist was she though? many critics, for instance, use Safie as proof of her "feminism", and some trace the character as a stand in for her mother, but, ultimately, when read at a closer angle, one can, for instance, attribute the characters refusal of her father's wishes as Islamophobia on Shelley's part, and, given, for instance, the politics and writing career of her husband, and the fact that he had just written a long poem "The Revolt of Islam" and dedicated it to her seems to show a little bit of Orientalism on her part - who knows? are we to say the "criticism" of Turkish culture was founded or not? Is Safie's father just another stock character Turk, or what? The Turk itself was a stock character, and quite popular even before the book (Moliere loved it, and later Mozart did, Rossini did, amongst countless others) - the misogynist Turk, in truth, by that time had become a stock character in Comedia Dell'arte. Who is to say though?


One thing is for sure though, women in that book are denied a really significant role = they either are mothers, lovers, or lovely servants, yet at the same time, have no real voice, and are, in essence in the possession of their male counterparts - even the letters that comprise the frame of the story deny a female voice.

The only real feminist argument I can make for it is, yes, the society in the book is patriarchal, but ultimately everything falls apart because of the men.

All the arguments suggesting the creature is a woman, or whatever are merely pseudo-intellectual rubbish spawned from misreadings of The Madwoman in the Attic, which in itself wasn't even a good text.

Shelley's feminism is quite minimal at any rate - she essentially destroyed Percy's first wife without much regard, so, in my view, she merely was just a spoiled narcissist who eventually had disaster upon disaster land on her, deservedly so in my opinion. The feminist argument has to do with her time, more than her work (well this work anyway, I can't speak for the rest as I have not, and will not read them). George Sand, for instance, is a far better figure to stand in as "feminist author" than Shelley by a long shot.


Frankenstien is an allegory for the oppressed Victorian woman...

Yup - that's it, just 30 odd years too early. Sorry to say, but Victoria wasn't even born when the book was first published, and the "Victorian Era", though technically starting in 1837 I would argue, in terms of literary imagination, and the rise of commercialism, didn't really start until the Crimean War in 1854, but I'm no history expert.


Frankenstein is an paean to beauty. For aesthetes like the Shelleys: beauty seems truth. And aren't Felix and Agatha De Lacey and his love, Safie, truly beautiful people?

Or is it a satire on beauty?

if you want satire on beauty, try La Belle Bźte by Marie-Claire Blais - the family itself is a mere minor aspect of the book - as beautiful as they are, they are unhappy, as they lack the drive to move forward that so captivates Frankenstein.

Virgil
07-17-2009, 05:53 PM
How feminist was she though? many critics, for instance, use Safie as proof of her "feminism", and some trace the character as a stand in for her mother, but, ultimately, when read at a closer angle, one can, for instance, attribute the characters refusal of her father's wishes as Islamophobia on Shelley's part, and, given, for instance, the politics and writing career of her husband, and the fact that he had just written a long poem "The Revolt of Islam" and dedicated it to her seems to show a little bit of Orientalism on her part - who knows? are we to say the "criticism" of Turkish culture was founded or not? Is Safie's father just another stock character Turk, or what? The Turk itself was a stock character, and quite popular even before the book (Moliere loved it, and later Mozart did, Rossini did, amongst countless others) - the misogynist Turk, in truth, by that time had become a stock character in Comedia Dell'arte. Who is to say though?


One thing is for sure though, women in that book are denied a really significant role = they either are mothers, lovers, or lovely servants, yet at the same time, have no real voice, and are, in essence in the possession of their male counterparts - even the letters that comprise the frame of the story deny a female voice.

The only real feminist argument I can make for it is, yes, the society in the book is patriarchal, but ultimately everything falls apart because of the men.

All the arguments suggesting the creature is a woman, or whatever are merely pseudo-intellectual rubbish spawned from misreadings of The Madwoman in the Attic, which in itself wasn't even a good text.

Shelley's feminism is quite minimal at any rate - she essentially destroyed Percy's first wife without much regard, so, in my view, she merely was just a spoiled narcissist who eventually had disaster upon disaster land on her, deservedly so in my opinion. The feminist argument has to do with her time, more than her work (well this work anyway, I can't speak for the rest as I have not, and will not read them). George Sand, for instance, is a far better figure to stand in as "feminist author" than Shelley by a long shot.

I agree. If it were an allegory for women's plight, then why isn't the monster female? That would have been the correct and obvious choice. The elements that people attach to as feminist I think are just natural reactions to a female writer delving into her experience as a base to develop a story. For instance, I believe Mary Shelley was pregnant at the time, and one can project the reshaping of her body into a monster and the life within her as being born into a new creature. But these are hardly consciously coordinated ideas. They could even be coincidences. Or they could be an introspective musings that got worked into the novel. I don't know. I doesn't strike me as a feminist statement.

By the way, I haven't read it in a while, but I thought it was a good read. :)

JBI
07-17-2009, 06:02 PM
There actually has been a lot of scholarship written on the gender of the creature - in the movies it is a He, and it's desire for a wife seems to imply this, yet year after year, dissertation after dissertation...

The book was so meh - honestly, only the most mediocre of gnynocritics can have any interest in the text as literature, and keep a straight face - it's like those random poems by females that pop up in the Norton Anthologies because some English academics decided it was time to unearth some rightfully buried works. No one reads them, no one uses them in classes really, they are just there - letters by Queen Elizabeth, mediocre lyrics, some scenes from some plays nobody reads or preforms anymore - just sitting there.

Perhaps Frankenstein is different in that it has been absorbed into popular (especially American I wager) culture. The preoccupation with the pseudo-gothic thanks to the influence of mediocre movies has prolonged this books existence - there probably have been more porn films made of this text than there have been Jane Austen book movies.

I mean, even compared to her contemporaries, Mrs. Shelley doesn't have much - Gaskell, Austen, the Brontės etc. No offense for you 9 guys who voted 10/10, but really, didn't you notice that the diction remains the exact same throughout the whole novel? She has a few fancy words that she throws around, but the overall tone, pace, and language used is so monotonous, so ridiculous, so overly attempting to be high-mimetic in nature, when ultimately the book is anything but.

JCamilo
07-17-2009, 06:06 PM
I do not think Franksteain is feminist. It is "rousseaunic" (meh :D ) and he is not a whole model for feminism. Except of course the absence of a female counterpart of significance put the blame of the monster on male aspects and responsabilties, but is minimal.

She was feminist in her own life, even because she had to defend herself reggarding the authorship of the book and her later writings are often attacked under the myopic vision of her feminine condition or Percey influence.

Virgil
07-17-2009, 06:07 PM
:lol: [Refernce to JBI's post just above.] Maybe I should re-read it. I don't recall the prose style. I thought the premise was imaginative for it's time. And it makes for a good story.

Oh yes, Camilo, I had forgotten. It is in response to Rousseau.

JCamilo
07-17-2009, 06:12 PM
There actually has been a lot of scholarship written on the gender of the creature - in the movies it is a He, and it's desire for a wife seems to imply this, yet year after year, dissertation after dissertation...

The book was so meh - honestly, only the most mediocre of gnynocritics can have any interest in the text as literature, and keep a straight face - it's like those random poems by females that pop up in the Norton Anthologies because some English academics decided it was time to unearth some rightfully buried works. No one reads them, no one uses them in classes really, they are just there - letters by Queen Elizabeth, mediocre lyrics, some scenes from some plays nobody reads or preforms anymore - just sitting there.

Perhaps Frankenstein is different in that it has been absorbed into popular (especially American I wager) culture. The preoccupation with the pseudo-gothic thanks to the influence of mediocre movies has prolonged this books existence - there probably have been more porn films made of this text than there have been Jane Austen book movies.

I mean, even compared to her contemporaries, Mrs. Shelley doesn't have much - Gaskell, Austen, the Brontės etc. No offense for you 9 guys who voted 10/10, but really, didn't you notice that the diction remains the exact same throughout the whole novel? She has a few fancy words that she throws around, but the overall tone, pace, and language used is so monotonous, so ridiculous, so overly attempting to be high-mimetic in nature, when ultimately the book is anything but.


You are often harsh with minor writers. Indeed, Mary is monophonic, she had not the psychological talent of Emily Bronte or Austen fine critical language. But you are comparing to the top notch. She can stand her own against Washington Irving, Le Fanu and she is much superior to Bram Stoker (a later development). She obviously can not stand the romantic poets, Coleridge Crystabel or Ancient Mariner will wipe the floor with Frankstein, but nobody can deny her imaginative capacity and skill to create a symbol and a history to represent something and the nolvety (which is why it became popular) of her themes. She also managed to pull out one of the first apocalypitic novels, of course, the execution from her part lacked some work, but she is good enough.

LitNetIsGreat
07-18-2009, 04:31 PM
Yes I certainly agree, I think it was certainly good enough. As you say not up to the heights of Emily Bronte or Austen, but it is still much better than JBI gives credit for.

The tone maybe somewhat monotonous in nature, or one paced, but perhaps there could be an argument for it due to the fact that it was twice removed from the story with it being a dictated letter. You get the feeling from the opening few pages of the story that Walton was a bit of a drip too. A monotonous tone wouldn't seem to out of place for such a character. That may seem like a weak excuse for the language being "so monotonous" and "so ridiculous" but it is something to consider nevertheless.

JCamilo
07-18-2009, 05:29 PM
Yeah, altough no excuse, she was quite young, it not hard to write under the shadow of a big name like Percey either. She had a lot of pressure to not write again as well, and obviously the capacity to change the tone and rythim to give different voices like, lets say Dostoievisky can do, must be achived with pratice.
Also her references are not exactly the best, end of XVIII writers had heavy interference in their works, it is hard to remove Rousseau from his texts. Maybe if she had more likeness with anti-Rousseau style, Voltaire - this one a master of fast rythim - she could do something different, but of course, the melancholic sense of Frankstein would be damned...

Gladys
07-19-2009, 04:58 AM
...the family itself is a mere minor aspect of the book - as beautiful as they are, they are unhappy, as they lack the drive to move forward that so captivates Frankenstein. While the family is relatively minor, all but the Creature are equally beautiful and truthful: Henry Clerval; the Frankensteins: Alphonse (the father), Elizabeth, Ernest, William and Victor himself; Mr. Kirwin; Justine Moritz, the executed; and Robert Walton. The Creature alone is ugly and deceitful.

Yet from birth, the Creature is abandoned, unloved, rejected and assailed by all. The narrator would have us believe the Creature should have suffered in silence and isolation. Did Mary Shelley also hold this extreme view? I think not.

Therefore, a satire on beauty.

Aragorn Elessar
07-28-2010, 10:00 PM
Good book. I recommend the 2004 film adaptation.

Helga
08-01-2010, 08:11 AM
I really liked it. Now I want to see the movie but I don't really know witch one so maybe I'll check a few. I liked how the creature used every opportunity to learn but didn't understand anything about life. Also the ending was good and the creatures need for companion.

Also how Shelley did in an good way show people how we react to the unknown, and scare easily when we don't understand.

SilentMute
08-24-2010, 01:50 PM
I read this book because it was a classic, and I'm trying to read books that are considered classics to see why they are considered such. I have to admit, after finishing some books, I can't always figure out why they are considered great works--and my theory that some books become classics because they survive their era by being at the bottom of a used book shelf.

I was leary of reading Frankenstein because I expected it to be gross. Some of the movies horrified me. However, I was pleasantly surprised. It was very good and not gruesome. The creature was sympathetic.

Aside from what has been mentioned as far as the points--I think it also demonstrates prejudice towards people's appearances. A person's size and ugliness can make people jump to assumptions that they are menacing.