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Frankenstein

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  1. Frankenstein Looking at character types, settingand the presentation of the ‘female’ in Frankenstein Exploring chapters 18, 19 and 20 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lGVHt5YibY8&ob=av2e

  2. By the end of the lesson you will have explored fictional character types, settings and the presentation of ‘the female’ in ‘Frankenstein’. Your research will be assessed by a written essay. AO1, AO3, AO4

  3. Chapter summaries 18, 19, 20 Chapter 18 Frankenstein cannot steel himself to begin his dreadful task. Before going to England to undertake the necessary study and work he agrees to marry Elizabeth on his return. Clerval travels with Victor. Chapter 19 After a protracted tour, Frankenstein leaves Clerval and takes a cottage on a remote Scottish island to complete his second creation Chapter 20 Victor, increasingly sickened by his task, begins to consider further the potentially disastrous effects of creating a mate for the creature. The monster appears and Victor tears apart the new creation. The monster howls and vows that he will be there at Victor’s wedding night. Victor gets a letter from Clerval and agrees to join him. He sets off in a boat to get rid of the body parts and gets lost at sea and is washed up in Ireland and immediately arrested in connection with a murder.

  4. Chapter 18 Alphonse talks to Victor about his hopes that he will marry Elizabeth but he is concerned that he may “regard her as (his) sister”. Victor claims: “To me the idea of an immediate union with my Elizabeth was one of horror and dismay”. • How do you react to Shelley’s presentation of Victor’s relationship with his “more than sister”? Mary Shelley made many changes to the text between 1818 and 1831 – you could explore these to see what has changed.

  5. Chapter 19 Having parted from my friend, I determined to visit some remote spot of Scotland and finish my work in solitude. I did not doubt but that the monster followed me and would discover himself to me when I should have finished, that he might receive his companion. With this resolution I traversed the northern highlands and fixed on one of the remotest of the Orkneys as the scene of my labours. It was a place fitted for such a work, being hardly more than a rock whose high sides were continually beaten upon by the waves. The soil was barren, scarcely affording pasture for a few miserable cows, and oatmeal for its inhabitants, which consisted of five persons, whose gaunt and scraggy limbs gave tokens of their miserable fare. Vegetables and bread, when they indulged in such luxuries, and even fresh water, was to be procured from the mainland, which was about five miles distant. On the whole island there were but three miserable huts, and one of these was vacant when I arrived. This I hired. It contained but two rooms, and these exhibited all the squalidness of the most miserable penury. The thatch had fallen in, the walls were unplastered, and the door was off its hinges. I ordered it to be repaired, bought some furniture, and took possession, an incident which would doubtless have occasioned some surprise had not all the senses of the cottagers been benumbed by want and squalid poverty. As it was, I lived ungazed at and unmolested, hardly thanked for the pittance of food and clothes which I gave, so much does suffering blunt even the coarsest sensations of men. In this retreat I devoted the morning to labour; but in the evening, when the weather permitted, I walked on the stony beach of the sea to listen to the waves as they roared and dashed at my feet. It was a monotonous yet ever-changing scene. I thought of Switzerland; it was far different from this desolate and appalling landscape. Its hills are covered with vines, and its cottages are scattered thickly in the plains. Its fair lakes reflect a blue and gentle sky, and when troubled by the winds, their tumult is but as the play of a lively infant when compared to the roarings of the giant ocean.

  6. Using your annotated extracts answer the question using evidence What tone does Shelley create in this extract? What is the effect on the reader? What methods does she use to achieve this? What is Shelley’s likely purpose? Having parted from my friend, I determined to visit some remote spot of Scotland and finish my work in solitude. I did not doubt but that the monster followed me and would discover himself to me when I should have finished, that he might receive his companion. With this resolution I traversed the northern highlands and fixed on one of the remotest of the Orkneys as the scene of my labours. It was a place fitted for such a work, being hardly more than a rock whose high sides were continually beaten upon by the waves. The soil was barren, scarcely affording pasture for a few miserable cows, and oatmeal for its inhabitants, which consisted of five persons, whose gaunt and scraggy limbs gave tokens of their miserable fare. Vegetables and bread, when they indulged in such luxuries, and even fresh water, was to be procured from the mainland, which was about five miles distant. On the whole island there were but three miserable huts, and one of these was vacant when I arrived. This I hired. It contained but two rooms, and these exhibited all the squalidness of the most miserable penury. The thatch had fallen in, the walls were unplastered, and the door was off its hinges. I ordered it to be repaired, bought some furniture, and took possession, an incident which would doubtless have occasioned some surprise had not all the senses of the cottagers been benumbed by want and squalid poverty. As it was, I lived ungazed at and unmolested, hardly thanked for the pittance of food and clothes which I gave, so much does suffering blunt even the coarsest sensations of men. In this retreat I devoted the morning to labour; but in the evening, when the weather permitted, I walked on the stony beach of the sea to listen to the waves as they roared and dashed at my feet. It was a monotonous yet ever-changing scene. I thought of Switzerland; it was far different from this desolate and appalling landscape. Its hills are covered with vines, and its cottages are scattered thickly in the plains. Its fair lakes reflect a blue and gentle sky, and when troubled by the winds, their tumult is but as the play of a lively infant when compared to the roarings of the giant ocean. Could this link to the themes that Shelley explores in her novel?

  7. Chapter 20 • What reasons does Victor give for wanting to destroy the female creature? • Does he have a strong case for doing this?

  8. Literary archetypes(types of characters that appear in Literature) THE GREAT TEACHER/MENTOR THE MOTHER FIGURE THE HERO THE INNOCENT THE DOUBLE (the other side of an individual) For further information on this area you could research Vladimir Propp’snarrative theory, “The Morphology of the Folktale” Which of the characters would you give these labels to and why?

  9. In Frankenstein do we see evidence of these literary archetypes?

  10. Focussing on the female • Remember one of the features of ‘Gothic’ literature is the helpless female escaping the male • What ‘function’ do we see the women in the story holding? • Elizabeth • Robert Walton’s sister • Justine • little girl • Safie • Caroline • Agatha

  11. The ‘workshop’ as a metaphor • Some critics argue that the workshop where Victor creates the ‘creature’ may have connotations of the womb. Extend this idea by considering the following: • Shelley was almost continually pregnant from the age of 16 to 21 • Some critics suggest that Victor has ‘usurped’ a woman’s role by creating a ‘human’ without the need of a woman • Victor describes his laboratory as a “workshop of filthy creation”

  12. FEMINIST ‘LITERARY CRITICISM’ • Because the ‘literary tradition’ was created overwhelmingly by men, the idea behind feminist literary theories is to focus on exposing ‘patriarchal dominance’ and building up an alternative ‘feminine’ tradition,one that explores women’s experiences and how they interpret and use the literary and linguistic traditions differently from men.

  13. Frankenstein as a woman's text Gothic literature and feminism Gothic operates as a genre with particular significance for women: it has a tendency towards female writers and readership, but also embodies a peculiarly patriarchal nightmare in which violence is continually enacted on the female body. - The importance of Mary Shelley's identity as the daughter of Mary Wollstonecraft. She was a woman living in a tradition of literary women who explicitly criticised patriarchy; it is therefore logical to look for criticism of Gothic and patriarchy in Frankenstein. - The maleness of Frankenstein is a particular problem here: within the Miltonian archetypes, men are dominant, women are weak and passive playthings and possessions, or self-sacrificing mother/nurture figures. - Shelley's use of the exaggerated misogyny of the genre can be seen as being in many ways subversive and critical. Birth in Frankenstein Birth and procreation are concepts important for women and are central themes in the novel. - Mary Shelley's own experience of difficult pregnancies while writing offers a psychoanalytic perspective on some of the book's events. - Also important is the contrast between Romantic ideals of spiritual/artistic creation and the gross physicality of the body in the novel. - The implications of Shelley as woman writer who usurps the male (spiritual) act of creation - The horror of Frankenstein is Dr. Frankenstein's appropriation of the intrinsically female birth process, and his eradication of the need for women. - Nature is presented as a feminine principle penetrated by the male, but has the power to punish the transgressive penetrator. The monstrous and the female other The female operates as the other to the patriarchal self. This is a transgressive other: the figure of Eve typfies all women as fallen. The novel deals with the notion of female otherness in various implicit ways. - Both Frankenstein and Walden are also Eve figures in their reaching after forbidden knowledge. - The monstrous other comes to stand for the feminine other - the monster himself is a feminised figure. - The novel thus uses its patriarchal gothic structures subversively - the horror elements of the genre energise an attack on patriarchy. http://www.jessicatiffin.org/teaching/frlect.htm 1977). As early as the 1790's Ann Radcliffe firmly set the Gothic in one of the ways it would go ever after: a novel in which the central figure is a young woman who is simultaneously persecuted victim and courageous heroine. But what are we to make of the next major turning of the Gothic tradition that a woman brought about, a generation later? Mary Shelley's Frankenstein, in 1818, made the Gothic novel over into what today we call science fiction. Frankenstein brought a new sophistication to literary terror, and it did so without a heroine, without even an important female victim. Paradoxically, however, no other Gothic work by a woman writer, perhaps no literary work of any kind by a woman, better repays examination in the light of the sex of its author. For Frankenstein is a birth myth, and one that was lodged in the novelist's imagination, I am convinced, by the fact that she was herself a mother... Mary Shelley was a unique case, in literature as in life. She brought birth to fiction not as realism but as Gothic fantasy, and thus contributed to Romanticism a myth of genuine originality: the mad scientist who locks himself in his laboratory and secretly, guiltily works at creating human life, only to find that he has made a monster...That is very good horror, but what follows is more horrid still: Frankenstein, the scientist, runs away and abandons the newborn monster, who is and remains nameless. Here, I think, is where Mary Shelley's book is most interesting, most powerful, and most feminine: in the motif of revulsion against newborn life, and the drama of guilt, dread, and flight surrounding birth and its consequences. Most of the novel, roughly two of its three volumes, can be said to deal with the retribution visited upon monster and creator for deficient infant care. Frankenstein seems to be distinctly a woman's mythmaking on the subject of birth precisely because its emphasis is not upon what precedes birth, not upon birth itself, but upon what follows birth: the trauma of the afterbirth. Sandra Gilbert and Susan GubarThe Madwoman in the Attic: The Woman Writer and the Nineteenth-Century Literary Imagination (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1979). ...It eventually becomes clear that though Victor Frankenstein enacts the roles of Adam and Satan like a child trying on costumes, his single most self-defining act transforms him definitively into Eve...After much study of the "cause of generation and life," after locking himself away from ordinary society int he tradition of such agonized mothers as Wollstonecraft's Maria, Eliot's Hetty Sorel, and Hardy's Tess, Victor Frankenstein has a baby. His "pregnancy" and childbirth are obviously manifested by the existence of the paradoxically huge being who emerges from his "workshop of filthy creation," but even the descriptive language of his creation myth is suggestive...And like Eve's fall into guilty knowledge and painful maternity, Victor's entrance into what Blake would call the realm of "generation" is marked by a recognition of the necessary interdependence of those complementary opposites, sex and death: "To examine the causes of life, we must first have recourse to death," he observes, and in his isolated workshop of filthy creation filthy because obscenely sexual he collects and arranges materials furnished by the "dissecting room and slaughterhouse." Pursuing "nature to her hiding places," as Eve does in eating the apple, he learns that the "tremendous secrets of the human frame" are the interlocked secrets of sex and death, although, again like Eve, in his first mad pursuit of knowledge he knows not "eating death." But that his actual orgasmic animation of his monster-child takes place "on a dreary night in November," month of All Souls, short days, and the year's last slide towards death, merely reinforces the Miltonic and Blakean nature of his act of generation. http://graduate.engl.virginia.edu/enec981/Group/ami.frank.html By reading the critical extracts – what key quotations and points can be made to support the view that Frankenstein is an early feminist text? What other factors could influence this?

  14. A useful quote The feminist philosopher Simone de Beauvoir wrote: “Thus humanity is male and man defines woman not in herself but as relative to him; she is not regarded as an autonomous being... She is defined and differentiated with reference to men and not he with reference to her; she is the inessential as opposed to the essential. He is the Subject, he is the Absolute – She is the ‘Other’” from ‘The Second Sex’ (1949) How could this be applied to Shelley’s novel?

  15. Does this artistic interpretation of the ‘weird sisters’ from Shakespeare’s Macbeth add to your feelings about the female in Gothic fiction?

  16. An example of including AO3 and AO4 Simone de Beauvoir refers to woman as being “inessential” in her 1949 text ‘The Second Sex’ yet for the creation the need for a female is an absolute necessity arguing “It’s a right that you must not refuse to concede” when speaking to Victor. Thus the text starts to explore the need for women – for the creature a female companion is what he needs as he is “shunned and hated by all mankind” and the female would “for creatures sake” allow him to “make peace with the whole mankind”. The creature presents Victor with pathos and pleads with him using the rhetorical skills we, as a reader, have become familiar with. It could be suggested that Mary Shelley herself felt “inessential” not only as a mother (she suffered many miscarriages in the early years of her marriage) but perhaps being in the shadow of her formidable mother, Mary Wollstonecraft, meant that the creatures need for love and equality was one she also craved.

  17. Bring it all together now! ‘Though restrained by social convention, the passions of the female characters emerge with great force.’ • In the light of this comment, discuss Shelley’s presentation of female characters in Frankenstein. • Think! EFFECT > METHOD >PURPOSE (EMP) Where to begin!?!?

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