Frankenstein- Suffering of an Individual
Anguish, pain, torment and suffering are all a part of our day to day lives. These may issue from a variety of causes such as great deprivation, hardships to emotional and physical loss. Many texts, such as that of Frankenstein, written by Mary Shelly in the early 1800's, depict unalleviated suffering caused by living within societal norms. However very often, these sufferings are inflicted upon people by one individual and in the case of Frankenstein, this source is Victor Frankenstein. This statement becomes evident when examining the intersecting cultural beliefs of gender, class and ethnicity of the time.
Gender expectations are differences created by cultures, therefore it can be seen as a social construct used to organise society in different groups. By doing so, this creates inequalities between both male and females that are predominantly based upon their roles and expectations. As Frankenstein was written in 1816, it was produced in a time frame that was heavily founded on patriarchal norms. This patriarchal belief system unequally allocated power between the sexes, favouring males over females. In Frankenstein, Victor Frankenstein (the male protagonist) is seen to assert his expectations of a man by transgressing into those of a female as the bearer and nurturer of life- the roles of which are usually associated with motherhood, which is a major site of difference. However, he fails to do so properly rejecting his creation; "
After days and nights of incredible labour and fatigue, I succeeded
but I escaped, and rushed down stairs
" Here, one can see how Frankenstein fails to complete the role of a mother, by abandoning his child' and leaving it to fend for itself. As a result, the Creature rightly kills of the loved ones of Frankenstein, causing Frankenstein to feel anguish and pain after each loss. This in turn, can be seen as an attempt to punish Frankenstein for asserting the societal norms of gender hood of the time. Furthermore, one can see how Victor inflicted this suffering upon himself and his Creature.
During the creation of his Creature, Frankenstein shows no forethought, meaning that he just launches into his obsession focusing solely on himself, without any consideration for the Creature. "I saw the dull yellow eye of the creature open
how can I describe my emotions at this catastrophe
" Here, Frankenstein is portrayed as completely short sighted, by the very fact of being surprised when his intended creature comes to life. Therefore, it would be viable to say that Frankenstein not only suffers as a result of breaking the societal norms, but this suffering is also brought on by himself, as a result of selfish pride and ignorance. In addition, this can be viewed as Shelly's attempt to deconstruct the Romantic hero. By deliberately choosing the genre of gothic (a technique used by female writers of the time, due to the fact that gothic novels were widely read by females), Shelly shows the downfall of the Romantic Hero as a result of Frankenstein undermining stereotypical views of gender at the time (transcending boundaries by asserting the role of a female in creation). Elizabeth (Victor's betrothed) is also shown to suffer not only from the societal norms of the time (by having to live up to female expectations), but in addition, her suffering is also shown to come from one other- Frankenstein.
Throughout the entire novel, Elizabeth is shown to live up to her societal gendered expectations, by her desire to attach herself to a dominant male; "
but as brother and sister often entertain a lively affection towards each other, without desiring a more intimate union
tell me, dearest Victor, answer me
" Here, Elizabeth proclaims her undying love for Victor, and insists he tells her if he shares the same emotions. Therefore, women's ability to make real choices to affect their own destinies is clearly demonstrated. As time passes on, Elizabeth becomes...
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