Realist Literary Techniques
Hill-Miller, Katherine C. My Hideous Progeny. Newark: University of Delaware Press, 1995.
Miller's book, My Hideous Progeny, talks mostly of Shelley's relationship with her family, especially her father. Miller took a chapter to specifically discuss the parallels between Shelley's familial relationships and her novel, Frankenstein. Miller argues that Shelley combined her father, William Godwin, and her husband, Percy Shelley, into the character of Victor. She talks of how Shelley explores the concept of incest by this combination of her father and husband into one character. She also shows incest through Victor's dream of kissing Elizabeth and having her turn into his dead mother. "Frankenstein's incestuous dream is the perfect revelation of something he cannot grasp in his waking moments: his desire to animate lifeless matter is ultimately traceable to his desire to bring his dead mother back to life and possess her" (63). Miller also discusses how the creature represents a daughter figure. She points out that all the daughters in the book are orphans, like the monster, and they rely on a male figure to help them. Miller shows that this relates to Shelley's life because she herself was without a mother and was abandoned in her later years by her father. Another focus in Shelley's book was the "analysis of the impact of environment upon character" (69). Miller talks of how people are changed because of the environment that they are raised in. Miller's main point is that "she used her fiction to depict and explore the daughter's baffled disappointment, suppressed anger, and passionate attachment to the father who both shaped and shunned her. Shelly told the story of the daughter's escape from the realm of her father's power and desire" (203).
I really like Miller's essay because she actually relates it to her life with facts. For example, Miller points out that not only did Percy write under the name Victor, but he also had a very loving relationship with his sister Elizabeth, such as Frankenstein had with his adopted sister, but to a lesser extent. These types of facts allowed me to relate better to Shelley as a person and I was able to understand what she could have possibly made her character, the monster, from. I would definitely use this piece if I was writing an essay, but I don't know whether to see the monster as a figure of incest, or as a part of a sympathy story as a daughter. She explores both these points which allow a broader perspective, but I can get a little confuses on which point she is addressing at a certain time. Overall, the chapter of her book that I read made me want to read more; mostly because it went so deep into Shelley's personal life that you are really able to see her in a whole new light.
Mellor, Anne. "Possessing Nature: The Female in Frankenstein." Romanticism and Feminism. Ed. Anne Mellor. Bloomington, Indiana: Indiana University Press, April 1988: 220-32.
Anne Mellor's critical essay focuses on two main points: gender divisions and respecting nature with minimal use of all things. She discusses the gender divisions between males and females as well as possible homosexual separations. She reasons that the divisions are between "the public and the private; the intellectual and the emotional; work and love" (275). Mellor criticizes how men act towards women. She brings up the gruesome destruction of the female monster in order to validate her statements. She also suggests homoerotic relationships in the novel, which show how men only saw women as their only way to bear children. Men were more attracted to other men because they saw them as the "superior" gender. Mellor also addresses Nature as "a sacred life-force in which human beings ought to participate in conscious harmony" (284), but also that Nature "both resists and revenges herself" (282). Mellor talks of how Nature is so beautiful and amazing, but if you do not...
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