UIS English 311
May 14, 2012
Without a Mother the Creature is Doomed
Mary Shelley’s novel, Frankenstein, shows a feminist point of view on the importance of mothers as nurturers. Schuyler Sokolow and Regan Walsh write in their essay, “The Importance of a Mother Figure in Frankenstein” that Shelley portrays “the nurturing of a loving parent is extremely important in the moral development of an individual” (1). Thus, the lack of a strong and successful female role model throughout the story gives way to the creature struggling in life. Shelley’s own life often mirrors the happenings in this text. The men that surrounded Shelley were not concerned with feelings. Her own father, “whom she adored,” “neglected her, leaving her feeling unwanted” and her husband’s “lack of grief [when] their babies died augmented this conviction in necessity for women in society,” as stated in the essay, “Frankenstein: Shelley Use of Masculine and Feminine Roles” (1). She grew up without her mother and a neglectful father, much like the creature, which often called to question her abilities as a parent—“this is expressed in Victor Frankenstein’s complete failure in parenting” (Sokolow-Walsh, 1). Shelley’s subtle, and not so subtle, examples of a nurturer being needed to be successful in life are shown throughout the novel. The creature’s crimes and yearning for a female presence supports Shelley’s idea that nature is not enough for human development, a woman’s nurturing is essential for success. “In Frankenstein, Mary Shelley examines her own fears and thoughts about pregnancy, childbirth, and child development” (Sokolow-Walsh, 1). Her fears were established very young due to the fact that her mother died giving birth to her and thus, she grew up without a mother—aside from a stepmother who never attempted to bond with her. She always felt ill-prepared for life not having a mother to guide her. She leaned on her father for the nurturing she craved and cared for him deeply but he was a man of the times and did not believe in showing emotions—he often separated from her leaving her feeling neglected. Mary wondered, throughout her own pregnancies and births, if she was equipped to be a mother and give a child what they needed for development. Her first child, Clara, was born premature and died just a few weeks later. As any mother would be, Mary was devastated but her husband showed no grief as was the way of that era. In fact, only one of Mary’s five children outlived her. At age nineteen, when her second child, William, was six months old Mary had a nightmare that began the story of Frankenstein. The story was the first to discuss pregnancy fears that women faced. However, her story resonated with other women of that time who felt the same anxieties and it allowed men some insight into the emotions of pregnancy. Through Victor’s character and how he treated the creature, “Mary was expressing her fears related to the death of her first child, her ability to nurture, and the fact that her mother died having her” (Sokolow-Walsh, 1). Like a typical women’s pregnancy, Victor Frankenstein’s creation labored on “for approximately nine months” (Sokolow-Walsh, 1). However, Victor’s reaction to the “birth” is not at all what a mother goes through. He did not feel love and nurture towards the creature as a mother would have but instead felt contempt and disgust at his appearance and sub sequentially, ran away from his creation “leaving him to fend for himself” as told in Jen Minutillo’s essay, “Motherless Parenting: The Role of Responsibility” (1). This reaction from Frankenstein proves “his poor parental acceptance of responsibility” (Minutillo, 2). Loving this “child” was not an option for Victor as he could not stand the sight of the creature so much that he ran and hid from him for years. He was embarrassed and disappointed in his creation and wanted to kill him off as soon as he saw him. Of course Victor has no one but himself...
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