Wednesday, 10 December 2014

50th Post | Review of Frankenstein

I really want to say thanks for reading my blog - it wouldn't have ever gotten this far without people's support! It's pretty apt that Frankenstein has come up as my 50th post as, having just completed it for the fourth (maybe fifth?!) time, I've realised that it is definitely one of my firm favourites. Having said that, I probably won't be reading it again any time soon - I feel as though I could practically narrate it word for word right now!

So, I've studied Frankenstein numerous times in my career as a lit student. The first was in the context of the gothical canon at a-level. Since then I've looked at it through the lens of its place in modern literature, and feminist writing. It's pretty much just a gift that keeps on giving, and every time I come to read it, I'm just amazed by how radical and potent it is. There are actually two different versions of Frankenstein - the 1818 edition and the 1831 one. I would advise anyone to read the 1818 version - it differs slightly in content and has fewer of Percy Shelley's amendments. 

Victor Frankenstein is an intellectual who seeks to discover more about natural philosophy. Having acquired an in-depth knowledge about this science, he turns his attentions towards an experiment which he hopes will make his name go down in history forever. Sadly it does, but for the wrong reasons .... Birthing a hideous creation, Frankenstein abandons his helpless 8ft monster to a life of loneliness and deprivation. However, as the above quotation indicates, a life devoid of any sympathy may turn the sweetest heart to stone.

The creature is a product of the labourer, Frankenstein. Unlike the majority of scientific research, Frankenstein does not create a theoretical piece of work, but a material one. This allows for a Marxist reading of the play. It is interesting that Frankenstein and his monster have both a master-slave and a producer-product relationship; these are not the same thing. The master slave relationship present in the book is a truly Hegelian one: the master's existence is dependent on the slave even more than the slave's existence is dependent on the master. The master's very identity is predicated on the existence of the slave. The master's and the slave's identities can shift: this is what happens with Frankenstein and his monster. Frankenstein moves from being the master, to slave, to master again as the creature *spoiler alert* stands over his dead body.

Although the entire book is narrated from a male perspective, there is a lot of room to examine the importance of women in the text. For starters, the entire novel is written specifically for a woman: Margaret Saville. Her presence ensconces the novel and adds another layer of perception to the book. Moreover, the central figure in all of the layers of narration is Safie, an arab woman. The  presence and non-presence of women and especially mothers throughout the text is probably something people find most concerning and noticeable. Frankenstein gives birth with no female input, and therefore, removes the woman from the domestic sphere. The question really is, after this can he ever become married and life a life of domestic harmony? Is it necessary that Elizabeth dies?

What do you think of it?


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