Frankenstein and a Feminist Analysis

Literature / April 23, 2015 / No Comments /
This paper looks at Johanna M. Smith’s flawed feminist analysis of Mary Shelley’s “Frankenstein”.

The following paper explores Johanna M. Smith’s critique of Mary Shelley’s “Frankenstein” which the author feels is trapped by its goal of feminist analysis. In trying to determine gender roles, Smith categorizes and generalizes Shelley’s characters. The author of this paper asserts that Shelley’s protagonist, Victor Frankenstein, is much more complex and less categorical than Smith’s analysis.
Initially, Smith observes that although Victor states his admiration for Elizabeth and affection for his family, he seems to avoid their presence throughout the narrative. He presents his parents as moral ideals, but fails to follow their examples of patience, of charity, and of self-control(42). Smith asks, Why does this enclave of domestic virtues not produce a better Victor?(318). If he values his family so highly, why does Victor continually neglect and avoid them? In her section titled Cooped Up, Smith cites examples of Victor’s gratitude towards his family, but asserts that this gratitude comes with an oppressive sense of obligation. Smith sees Victor’s behavior as a rejection of the feminine domestic sphere in pursuit of the masculine scientific and public sphere. However, I feel Smith’s dichotomy between the domestic and the sciences is an attempt to categorize a more complex relationship; her solution is too simplistic and bypasses other issues presented by the text. There is relevance to her claim, but the deeper conflict is between Frankenstein and his inner desires, as personified by the Wretch.

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