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Mary Shelley's Frankenstein

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Mary Shelley brings out the value of domestic life as the central theme in the novel. Shelley views the family as an interaction system with more emphasis on the internal family dynamics and relationships, functions and structure of the family, relationship of the family subsystems and the family with the outer environment. Shelley brings out her opinion about the family in a feminine perspective.  A deeper analysis of the novel reveals the harsh realities about Shelley’s existence. Her work is full of gruesome descriptions with depressing tone showing how she defies romanticism. It is almost obvious that she wrote the novel in a rebellious nature so as to condemn radicalism as well as romanticism. Shelley approaches this novel with a relational dynamics point of view.


In her introduction, Shelley detaches herself from the radicals terming them as violent, full of repulsion, and selfish. She affirms that “I do not wish to associate myself with Radicals; they are violent, selfish, full of repulsion towards me, and not informed in their speech”. One can clearly note that this opinion is driven by her perception of her father who had remained indifferent to her all her life. This opinion shows how she disregards her father and other radical thinkers. As a matter of fact, all her characters in the novel who were inclined towards radicalism either in their thoughts or actions were murdered. This shows her passion to end radicalism. However, she ended up bring more misery to her family.

Her feminism point of view can be traced from the influence of her mother, Mary Wollenstonecraft. Shelley’s mother died at childbirth leaving her with a weak feminine influence in life. However, she grew up to follow her mother’s feminine ideologies. Mary projects her hopes, experiences, opinions into the lives of her character. Her feministic view comes clearer in the deaths of the female characters. The dynamics of a dysfunctional family is portrayed in her tumultuous relationship with her stepmother. Her use of symbolism in the novel relays her experiences in life. It is obvious that lack of parental guidance in her life caused her emotional torture which narrates in the novel. The death of female figures in the novel also reveals the lack of a female role model in Shelley’s life.

The novel brings out the pain of single parenting as most female characters died. This is a pure picture of Mary’s ordeal. She portrays the plight of child, born and immediately abandoned. Elizabeth, one of the orphans who lived with Victor Frankenstein’s family displays loneliness and depression. The question that rock one mind in the novel is whether parents are responsible for shaping the personality of their children or whether the children are born with inherent personality. Victor’s father was less concern of his studies. This was a similar case with Mary Shelley when her father remained indifferent to her in the entire period of her life. As a result, Victor hated his father and he never wanted to be like him. Mary uses the character victor to express her confusion in regard to her identity and her relationship with her parents.  


Through the novel Frankenstein Shelley brings into light many issues that affected her personal life as well as the family. She has successful portrayed the dynamics of dysfunctional family from her personal experiences. Her feministic view also comes clearer when she lays more emphasis on the female characters, lack of female narration, interaction of character towards women, and death plight of women. Frankenstein clearly defies radicalism and romanticism. Mary has used literary devices such as symbolism to relay her horrific life experiences as well as bring out the concept of nurture vs. nature. She brings out this concept more clearly in the relationship between a parent and a child and the need for companionship.

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