Considering Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein as an Attack on Masculine Romanticism

Considering Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein as an Attack on Masculine Romanticism

I believe that Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein is an attack on themasculine Romanticism, thus, meaning my agreement with Mellor’sassessment. In Shelley’s novel, the ambitious Romantic hero, VictorFrankenstein, challenges the laws of nature by trying to dominate therole of the females. He attempts to do so by creating artificial life,however, his attempt to tamper with the “ever-varied powers ofnature”, is then the cause for his “destruction”. One interpretationof the novel is that man must keep equilibrium between his ambitious”pursuit of knowledge” and “the tranquility of his domesticaffections”, not allowing one aspect to “interfere” with another.

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Shelley structures her novel in a way that Walton’s framing tale isused as a warning to the readers who can relate to masculinecharacteristics, telling them to tame their ambition before it’s toolate. And through Frankenstein’s narrative, Shelley hopes that thereaders can “deduce an apt moral” being that over ambition corrupts.

The characteristics of a masculine Romantic hero consist of adominative egocentric personality with huge ambitions to pursuerevolutionary ideas. These characteristics are represented in thenovel through Walton, and Frankenstein. Walton has ideas to “tread aland never before imprinted by the foot of man”. He is also convincedthat his “voyage” can give “all man kind to the last generation”, an”inestimable benefit”. Similarly, Frankenstein has ideas to challenge”the principle of life” and find out “how nature works in her hidingplaces”. Both characters have visionaries of…

… which can be seen assignifying the light of knowledge’s blinding intensity. Light is oftenassociated with fire; and fire hurts the ones who try to ‘penetrate’it. This then attaches a sense of harm to the light of discovery andknowledge which the scientists try so hard to grasp on to. Another wayof seeing the association of the light imagery with fire is throughthe myth of Prometheus, who suffers sever punishment for introducingthe knowledge of fire to mankind. Like Prometheus, Frankenstein’tries’ to introduce forbidden knowledge to the human race, but failsand is punished for it. This then leads to the message being that hishunger for ‘glory’ only led to his “utter destruction”, which wasforeseen during Frankenstein’s account of the oak tree that inspiredhim to use galvanism to “animateaˆ¦lifeless matter”.


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