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evanescent95
11-05-2014, 10:22 AM
Hello :)

I'm currently studying Frankenstein, and one of the things I've noticed is that much of the criticism leveled against the text, shortly after its publication, focused on the femininity of the writing. For instance, The British Critic stated that the female author 'is an aggravation of that which is the prevailing fault of the novel; but if our authoress can forget the gentleness of her sex, it is no reason why we should'. It intrigues me that not only is this deemed an unforgivable flaw and a cause to 'dismiss the novel without further comment', but also that critics detected something irrefutably feminine within the text.

If we are to understand gender - and 'femininity' - as seperate from biologically determined sex, and as performative and socially influenced, what constitutes 'feminine' writing? What makes it inherently feminine? One point, raised by Marguerite Duras, is that feminine writing has been 'translated from darkness' and that all female writers have emerged from obscurity and oppression. I don't believe that this quality was what critics deemed as a flaw within the text though, and was wondering what everyone else thought.

What is it about Frankenstein that is fundamentally 'feminine' and how can we define 'feminine' in a literary sense?


I can't wait to hear everyone else's thoughts on the novel!! :D

YesNo
11-06-2014, 02:13 AM
I haven't read Frankenstein, but I wonder what would make this "feminine" writing if one didn't know the gender of the author.

dsnowden
02-06-2016, 11:21 PM
I think that Frankenstein is an interesting text. There is an overall absence of female or feminine characters in the novel except for one. There are no mothers, sisters or other "feminine" roles present. I think that in that absence, there are questions that rise within us that cause us to really explore male-female relationships especially our roles in creation.

Lemonade
02-07-2016, 05:42 AM
No, this is, IMO, exactly what the tin says: male ego's afraid of being threatened by a female who could actually write and was stimulated to do so by powerful male friends. If anything, they were threatened by the fact that she didn't write a 'ladies' book. If she had written a sugar sweet novel about falling in love and having kids, all would have been fine. But instead, she wrote a goth-horror story about creation, revenge and death. All topics not appropriate for women.

amitchener
02-07-2016, 07:51 PM
Hi! Sorry, my reply is not an answer to your question but an addition to the discussion. I am currently reading Frankenstein, so my knowledge is based on what I have read so far and a little online research. I think that your interpretation of The British Critic is interesting. My interpretation was that they were saying that Mary Shelley's Frankenstein was not feminine enough in their view. I think that Frankenstein was groundbreaking because it was unheard of for women to write in that genre during that time period and continues to be rare. If we think about all of the words that are traditionally synonymous with feminine, I would say that Frankenstein is not feminine - and that's okay. Women should be able to create art in any genre without her sex being brought into question.

How can we define feminine in a literary sense? I am not sure, but great question! :)

DavidIR
05-05-2016, 10:17 AM
All female characters in Shelley's "Frankenstein" are equally dependent on men, they are equally submissive but they also unveil different facets of female’s submissiveness and subordination.

New Secret
05-07-2016, 09:42 PM
Hello :)

I'm currently studying Frankenstein, and one of the things I've noticed is that much of the criticism leveled against the text, shortly after its publication, focused on the femininity of the writing. For instance, The British Critic stated that the female author 'is an aggravation of that which is the prevailing fault of the novel; but if our authoress can forget the gentleness of her sex, it is no reason why we should'. It intrigues me that not only is this deemed an unforgivable flaw and a cause to 'dismiss the novel without further comment', but also that critics detected something irrefutably feminine within the text.

If we are to understand gender - and 'femininity' - as seperate from biologically determined sex, and as performative and socially influenced, what constitutes 'feminine' writing? What makes it inherently feminine? One point, raised by Marguerite Duras, is that feminine writing has been 'translated from darkness' and that all female writers have emerged from obscurity and oppression. I don't believe that this quality was what critics deemed as a flaw within the text though, and was wondering what everyone else thought.

What is it about Frankenstein that is fundamentally 'feminine' and how can we define 'feminine' in a literary sense?


I can't wait to hear everyone else's thoughts on the novel!! :D

Aside of the feminist things sought for in this Frankenstein thread, bear in mind that Frankenstein is a story of "re-birth" or "creation" and as Mary Shelley was of the "fairer sex" it's no surprise that a tale of "creationism" (with that horror quirk in it) was written by a woman.

HannahHumphries
05-30-2016, 01:00 PM
I'm not completely sure that the quotation you mentioned from The British Critic was saying that Frankenstein as a novel is inherently feminine, and as others have noted, there are few female characters in the novel. And then if you look at the quotation again:


For instance, The British Critic stated that the female author 'is an aggravation of that which is the prevailing fault of the novel; but if our authoress can forget the gentleness of her sex, it is no reason why we should'.

It seems as though the problem they had with it was not that the novel was feminine but that the "authoress forgot the gentleness of her sex" and so critics did not see the novel as gentle enough when they knew that the novel was written by a woman. And then there's the story of how Shelley came up with her ideas, that she was involved in a contest with three men, so I have to wonder if it's almost like she was in competition with the entirety of male-dominated authors and literature in general at the time.

jlgiesler
05-30-2016, 05:32 PM
I believe that it has been criticized because the feminine role was not centralized. It was seen strange because the writer was a woman. The characters had both masculine and feminine qualities, but the story was told from a male voice even though the writer was a women. There is only one reason why I think that this novel could been seen as a feminine text. Feminism is defined as having advocacy for women's rights equal to man. I think that feminism could be shown in this book when both man and a woman was held accountable for murder. Also, that the male roles and the monster longed for female companionship. So, even though there was no main female lead character, there was still love shown from a woman and a man.

Danik 2016
05-30-2016, 08:17 PM
:iagree:The novel adopts several male points of view but no female.

rnkwetta
06-01-2016, 04:56 PM
I just started reading Frankenstein also but I am yet to identify characteristics that will make me believe that the author was a female had I not known that from the author's name. However, I think feminine has to do with the female gender, feminism deals with the act of advocating for women's right of equality. Maybe when I actually finish reading the novel, I might get some insight.

NJBond
06-02-2016, 10:52 PM
:iagree:The novel adopts several male points of view but no female.

As was pointed out above, however, the novel's central premise revolves around rebirth and death. The life cycle, being so closely tied to the notion of birth, is frequently related to the feminine.


I just started reading Frankenstein also but I am yet to identify characteristics that will make me believe that the author was a female had I not known that from the author's name. However, I think feminine has to do with the female gender, feminism deals with the act of advocating for women's right of equality. Maybe when I actually finish reading the novel, I might get some insight.

I think the important thing to keep in mind here is that feminine does not equal feminist.

Lherman1289
05-28-2017, 03:19 PM
Starting to read Mary Shelly’s Frankenstein, for me, I start to draw similar characteristics with women in Frankenstein. We interpret Victor Frankenstein as the narrator and how he expresses the relationship between his father and mother and how he describes his mother’s need nurture and love Elizabeth when once she finds her suffering from poverty and asked by her father to care for her. You also find characteristics with Walton. He writes in his letters that he is affectionate and the need for a friend and companion who he can talk to and understands him.