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Frankenstein: Who Is the Female Monster?

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Who is the Female Monster?

Frankenstein, Mary Shelley

To begin with the aim of this essay, it is relevant to explain why women in general are to be considered “the female monster”. This consideration is believed to be taken by Victor Frankenstein due to different factors found in the novel, which are going to be explained later on through this paper. In addition to the arguments previously mentioned to be discussed, it is important to explain why the influences on Mary Shelley’s writings (specifically the novel in discussion; Frankenstein) help to develop the main character of the novel, Victor Frankenstein, as a misogynist in a rather interesting and particular way, which carries the reader to the conclusion that there must be a homosexual implication in his inner desire of  a world with no women, and in addition to that, his obsession with his own creation and the fact that his most significant and intense relationships were with men. Supporting the previous statement, the view of women as a sexless being will give grounds to it. Gender issues are of vital importance as well, since the role of women in the society Mary Shelley had to live in was very similar to the one presented in the novel. Furthermore, some of the facts of the chaotic life Mary Shelley had as a “mother” are going to help the better understanding of the main argument taken into account in this piece of work, as well as some of the problems or the frustrations that a parent had to deal with after a child is born. All of this gets to the conclusion, and the main point of this paper, that the female monster symbolizes women in general, and the actions that Victor Frankenstein takes towards the corpse are proof of Victor’s deep desire of a world with no women.

Firstly, the life of Mary Shelley will give some of the reasons why she creates the main character of her precious child, Frankenstein, with the previously mentioned desire of a world with no women. Mary Shelley after living a hard experience as a mother-to-be as well as a daughter she carried the dreary thought of herself dragging death with her since her mother died when she was born as well as her first child, not late after her birth. Additionally, and as a result of a life with no female model to follow, she is capable of creating a terrorizing novel in which the main character is not a female victim but a man who wants to overcome “Nature” itself taking the unique ability of women of giving life from it. She could be able to go to fields of that extent thanks to the influences of Erasmus Darwin’s studies, Gothic novels, Wordsworth and Coleridge. From this the main character is born superficially like a man of science who wants to create life without the need of intercourse or a woman (this fact also could lead to his possible homosexuality that is discussed in this paper), but what he is intending to do is not only that to be exactly, he wants to take over the power of conceiving giving grounds to the fact that he wants a world where women are not of vital importance for living, and more importantly, evolving and procreating. Thus he defies “Nature”, who later will make him pay as it is going to be explain through the progress of this paper, called who because Nature is seen as a Goddess, a Goddess of life, and the fact that Nature is seen as a Goddess (female deity) supports the idea of Victor Frankenstein inner thought of not needing women in general. Here is a fragment of the novel where it can be seen the gender he gives to Nature before giving life to the creature: “One secret which I alone possessed was the hope to which I had dedicated myself; and the moon gazed on my midnight labours, while, with unrelaxed and breathless eagerness, I pursued nature to her hiding-places.” (54-55). As mentioned before, Nature does have an important role (a female character) in the novel as it can be noticed in her response to Victor Frankenstein’s attempt to overcome her power; since the beginning of his attempt to create life, Nature had given him a hard time to get there (just as women when in labor), he was showing symptoms of illness and had a mental breakdown at this moment in the story: “But my enthusiasm was checked by my anxiety, and I appeared rather like one doomed by slavery to toil in the mines, or any other unwholesome trade than an artist occupied by his favourite employment. Every night I was oppressed by a slow fever, and I became nervous to a most painful degree; the fall of a leaf startled me, and I shunned my fellow creatures as if I had been guilty of a crime.” (57). Nature was clearly playing her role as a Goddess and giving him a lesson of what happens if you want to give life just as women do, in that case she wants to make clear how does it feel, although it is not quite the same. However, that is not the only consequence of giving life that Nature gives to Victor Frankenstein, she also gives him the post-birth effects that some new-mothers have and the frustration of having a child whose looks are not what you have expected; thanks to the fears, anxiety, and somehow, guilt gave him a “nervous fever which confined me for several months.” (64). But this event didn’t happen just one time, in his second attempt of creating life (when he tried to create the female monster) this anxiety and uneasiness return. As said before, he wasn’t expecting to create such a hideous creature, and this also could be considered as an act of Nature against Frankenstein’s intentions; she was not allowing him to create a normal creature but a horrendous one, and it is certainly fair if you choose inhuman you get inhuman. Finally, Nature takes from Victor Frankenstein the “blessing” of normal procreation with the dead of Elizabeth; once she’s dead he couldn’t have his own offspring, and to add insult to injury, his first creation, the nameless monster, became hostile to him and killed all those precious to Victor Frankenstein: Clerval, Elizabeth, William, Justine. He had nothing after their deaths, nothing more than his obsession with his own creation who turned against him. All this explains why Nature is a she and how Victor Frankenstein’s attempt to take the power on giving life in his hands makes Nature, as a Goddess, take revenge. And supports the idea that he deeply thought that there is no need for a woman to have such an important role like reproducing.

Moreover, another fact that leads to the hypothesis of Victor Frankenstein being homosexual is the choice of a male monster as his first option and the refusal of creating a female monster. He was indeed scared of a female monster, believing that a female one could be stronger and more harmful than the male monster. It is not the normal behavior of the society he lived in to think that a woman (or a female being) could be stronger than man in any context, and it is not hidden in the novel that this is a fact since men in the story worked all outside the house and the few women in the novel worked in domestic environments, inside a house. However, in the case of Victor Frankenstein, he was genuinely scared of what a female monster could do, he didn’t want her to get out of control and that nothing, not even the male monster, could stop her. He thought she was going to be hundreds of times more dangerous than the male one, and certainly he didn’t want this new race to reproduce, not with women who could have been stronger than men as it can be seen in the novel: “I was alike ignorant; she might become ten thousand times more malignant than her mate and delight, for its own sake, in murder and wretchedness. He had sworn to quit the neighbourhood of man and hide himself in deserts, but she had not… Even if they were to leave Europe and inhabit the deserts of the new world, yet one of the first results of those sympathies for which the daemon thirsted would be children, and a race of devils would be propagated upon the earth who might make the very existence of the species of man a condition precarious and full of terror.” (202-203)

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