1 de noviembre de 2016

Female role in Frankenstein

¡Feliz 1 de noviembre!

Varias cosas tengo que decir. El pasado jueves quería haber subido la reseña de Salt to the sea de Ruta Sepetys pero me fue imposible. Es más, igual estoy un poco desconectada del blog y los canales hasta que encuentre tiempo y no esté agobiada. Otra cosa es que igual vienen entradas sobre escritura por el Nanowrimo. Igual no. Depende de cómo me dé (y si tengo algo que decir).

Ahora, hace unas semanas subí un vídeo al canal sobre mi experiencia con Frankenstein de Mary Shelley. Lo leí para clase y luego tuve que hacer un ensayo muy cortito sobre algo de la novela, citando fuentes y demás. Alguna persona comentó que le parecía interesante y como no tengo nada mejor que hacer el día después de Halloween (bueno, sí, tengo que estudiar alemán) voy a compartir con vosotros ese trabajo que hice para clase. Por si no habéis visto el vídeo, a mí Frankenstein no me maravilló, se me hizo muy pesado. Eso no indica que no me parezca una gran obra y que me guste estudiarla (prefería leer ensayos y artículos sobre la obra que la obra en sí).

Está en inglés y no voy a traducirlo porque traducir, para mí, es un estrés. Lo siento. Y va sobre el papel de las mujeres en Frankenstein. Y no tengo mucho más que decir salvo que si veis algún error/errata y demás será porque se me ha colado (no debería porque es un trabajo que presenté para clase pero todo puede pasar, el inglés no es mi primera lengua). Y en el trabajo original no había espacio entre párrafos pero lo he puesto porque es más cómodo.

Female role in Frankenstein

 You must create a female for me with whom I can live in the interchange of those sympathies necessary for my being.
Mary Shelley, Frankenstein or The Modern Prometheus

   Frankenstein is a well-known piece of writing by a well-known writer: Mary Shelley, daughter of Mary Wollstonecraft, one of the pioneers of the feminist movement. Although Shelley was raised in an opened-mind environment, her female characters lack of any kind of development or further importance in the plot. Nevertheless, we can appreciate some female features, even outside her female characters such as in the plot itself or in the masculine characters.

   The female characters are few and stereotyped, “they are not really characters at all, but symbols of a life yet uncontaminated by materiality” (Youngquist 350), symbols that represent the exemplary women: virgin and untouched. Elizabeth represents the ideal life of a married-to-be woman, submissive and immaculate; she is even given as a gift to Victor Frankenstein: “she presented Elizabeth to me as her promised gift, I, with childish seriousness, interpreted her words literally and looked upon Elizabeth as mine—mine to protect, love, and cherish” (Shelley 29). Though Frankenstein excuses himself declaring that he took it with “childish seriousness”, the truth is that Elizabeth is constantly seen as Victor’s wife, as the future Victor wants to have, but never —or hardly-ever— as a woman by herself. Even her death is because of Frankenstein’s acts; she and Justine are victims of Frankenstein and the creature’s behaviour and actions, their complete life is linked to men activities.

   Although this type of female character is the ones that highlight in the novel, the figure of the mother takes an important place too. Victor’s mother perishes when he is seventeen, just when he leaves his home to enter university. Her death may cause in Victor the need of creating life out of death and, in the end, creating the creature “to undo the death of his mother” (Hoeveler 52).

   The creature seems to have inherited Victor’s need of a motherly figure. One of his reasons in consequence of which he ended being a monster is the lack of a paternal and maternal figure: “No father had watched my infant days, no mother had blessed me with smiles and caresses” (Shelley 94). He did have a father, who abandoned him, Victor, but he never had a mother and in the De Lacey family lived without a mother, so he couldn’t know what was to have a mother. As Youngquist said in his article, the death of the mother gives the male characters complete independence which originates a characteristic in which Frankenstein has the “need to perpetuate the death of the mother” (Youngquist 351), and this thought can be applied to the female creature Victor builds to later break into pieces and throw it to the sea. One of Victor’s main reasons to do it is the fear of the procreation between the male and female creature and their posterior progeny that can cause the eradication of the human race. Victor decides to eradicate the female creature without knowing for sure if she would give birth to any more creatures or if the two creatures would get along. He doesn’t even think that the female creature may be less dangerous that her male partner, it “suggests that the female body is for Victor infinitely more threatening and “monstrous” than was the creature’s male body” (Hoeveler 52).

   The female character is also interesting for the reason that she combines both female character types. It is true that she never was a mother but was destroyed because of she could be one, nevertheless she fits in the first category considering that “she is never allowed to speak, or indeed to live; she is never given name of form” (Hawley 219), she is not seen as a female by herself. She is created with the purpose of pleasing the creature, of giving him a new —and hopefully better— life.

   Every woman, mother or not, is deceased at the end of the novel and we can relate it to Youngquist thought that these deaths give autonomy to Victor. But what if in his process of destruction of the mother’s figure, he created a mother out of him?

   Victor is a male character defined as a female one. Regularly, the act of birth is seen as a creation of life out of life, the mother, who is alive, creates a new life by itself. As I mentioned before, in Frankenstein there is a persistent need to create life out of death, not only represented in the dead mothers but in the creature itself. Victor becomes producer of life, something that only women were capable of do by themselves. This new feature in him formed in him the most developed female character without being one.

   Though Victor is more developed and has some female features, the female characters are still “passive and tame, silent and silenced, without any worldly substance that they can call their own and thereby validate real power in the world” (Dickerson 87), even today there are female characters portrayed this way, but was Shelley making an statement? Was she trying to criticize this stereotypical view of women and making out of Victor a female character with his proper development in a society in which women were seen as properties and life providers? Even with their lack of depth, we think about them and see them as an important part of Frankenstein, so if she was trying to probe something, she accomplished it.


   Dickerson, Vanessa D. "The Ghost of a Self: Female Identity in Mary Shelley's Frankenstein." Journal of Popular Culture 27.3 (1993): 79-91. ProQuest. Web.
   Hawley, Erin. "The Bride and Her Afterlife: Female Frankenstein Monsters on Page and Screen." Literature/Film Quarterly 43.3 (2015): 218-31. ProQuest. Web.
   Hoeveler, Diane Long. "Frankenstein, Feminism, and Literary Theory." The Cambridge Companion to Mary Shelley, Ed. Esther Schor. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 2003. 45-62. Print.
   Shelley, Mary. Frankenstein or The Modern Prometheus [1931]. London: Wordsworth Editions. 1993. Print.

   Youngquist, Paul. “Frankenstein: The mother, the daughter, and the monster.” Philological Quarterly 70.3 (1991): 339-359. ProQuest. Web.

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