The message, merits, and moral implications of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein have been long debated and discussed. Many recurring themes which are apt to surface in these conversations are those such as the woes of artificial creation and the “man is not God” argument. These themes have been so thoroughly explored and exploited that this essay could not possibly generate and original thought within the realms covered by these topics. In order to formulate something remotely fresh and at least relatively interesting, this essay seeks to shift the focus to the less explored dilemmas which Shelley may have purposely or subconsciously woven into the classic novel.
The very fact that Mary Shelley is a woman casts the already remarkable tale in an entirely new light. To read it objectively is improbable, if not impossible, because stories like this are simply not written by women. As a matter of fact, there are some things—focusing on a thrilling plot for the sake of the thrill, centralizing characters like monsters and ghosts, prominently showcasing a male to male bond—that are seen from female authors so infrequently, the appearance of one or multiple aspects in a story would be a true shock. This is certainly not a knock against female authors! It is not at all an insult, actually. It is simply an analysis of the female niche in literature at a glance. The fact that Shelley annihilated this mold with Frankenstein is a testament to her creativity, uniqueness and skill, setting her apart from all authors, male or female, and elevating her to a position of respect and glory which spans generations and gender.
When taking into account the female psychology, attempting to ascertain what a female would consciously or subconsciously attempt to prove with the novel is interesting. While several smaller points are made by Shelley in the text, the most important and overall message of the novel is this: no man or laboratory can replace the natural maternal nature of the human mother. The nurturing provided by a mother is the most necessary and vital experience of a child’s life and directly affects the person he becomes. While this process can be imitated with foster homes, day cares, orphanages and the like, only the direct bond between creator and creation will suffice to produce the best of outcomes.
The first step is to show that Shelley intended for Victor to be viewed as a mother to his creation. The point that Victor is not a woman seems to enhance the idea that he is incapable of undertaking the tasks of a primary caregiver. Given Victor’s masculinity, she uses the characters to “experiment” with a creator-child relationship in the absence of the maternal nature of a woman. To do so she alludes to the strong parallels connecting the relationships. At the end of Volume 1, Victor’s thoughts turn to how he would “spend each vital drop of blood for [the family’s sake]” (Shelley 90). This quote is a reference to the womb and the “lifeblood” shared by a family. Each drop of blood circulating in a pregnant woman is shared by the fetus living within her as she literally creates the child in her womb. That blood is then shared by the next infant as mother and children grow together into a family united by this blood. Shelley is showing that just as Victor is bonded to his mother by blood, so too is he bonded with his Monster.
This is not the first time Shelley portrays Victor as a motherly figure. In the description of the creation process, Shelley draws connections between it and a pregnancy many times. To begin with, the overall concept of the creation of an infant and the creation of a monster are nearly identical. Victor speaks of the “power placed within his hands” to “bestow animation” on “lifeless matter;” matter which will eventually become an incredible system with innumerable “intricacies of fibers, muscles, and veins” (Shelley 54). Is this not the same thing that can be said of a mother? For...
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