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Frankenstein Feminist Lens

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Naomi Gradinaru

on 13 November 2012

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Transcript of Frankenstein Feminist Lens

Viewing Frankenstein
through the feminist lens The Feminist Lens


The History of Feminism Do you agree that Shelley had a feminist viewpoint whilst writing Frankenstein? If not, why?
Do you agree with the feminist point of view?
How do you think the feminist lens applies to Frankenstein in other ways?
Do you believe that you can only apply the feminist lens to books written by feminist authors? Do you believe that you can apply the feminist lens even for books written before the "feminist movement?" Discussion Questions Q&A Nature is presented as a "she" in Frankenstein
Victor wants to "penetrate into the recesses of nature and show how she works in her hiding-places" (Shelley, 33).
His discovery of nature's secret of life and creation of a being is what leads to all of his later punishment. Nature as a female Frankenstein views his female creation as a "creation being"; a being with the capability to create more monsters, just as he is.
Frankenstein feels repulsed by the idea of another creature--a female--being able to create the monster he had brought to life.
Shelley parallels the secrets of Nature that Frankenstein had discovered with the ability of women to give birth. She may be subtly hinting at women's innate ability to "play god"; something men had to struggle to do. Frankenstein's destruction
of his female creation Elizabeth and her death Justine is the second person close to him that Frankenstein has seen die because of the monster.
Frankenstein had the power to stop Justine from being killed, but he was too selfish to reveal his knowledge about the monster out of fear that he would be exposed.
Even though she didn't do the crime, Justine confessed to it, sacrificing herself - even though she didn't know it - for Victor
Later we learn that the monster creates false evidence linking the murder of William to the female Justine with the logic that because he cannot receive any love from women, his unhappiness is their fault. Justine's Death Throughout the novel, we hear from three main perspectives: Robert Walton, Victor Frankenstein, and The Monster.

One of the main themes that runs throughout these perspectives was that they were all male, and all morally flawed, while women were the victims of their flaws.

Robert Walton- endless curiosity with no possible satiation
Victor Frankenstein- selfishly thought himself better than God
The Monster- Was willing to kill to get his ways Perspectives in the Novel Key Scholars
Sandra Gilbert
Susan Gubar
Argue that female writers identify with their female characters Psychoanalytic Feminism Wrote Women, Resistance, and Revolution
About how women should be freed from dependence on men
About how women should be allowed to participate in useful jobs
She was influenced by Marxist ideas, "conclud[ing] that the emancipation of women would occur only with the destruction of capitalism and the rise of socialism, when women would be freed from dependence on men" (Sorensen and Krolokke, 10) Sheila Rowbotham Was an African American and lesbian feminist
Wrote Sister Outsider: Essays and Speeches Audre Lorde 1960s to 1970s
Equal rights for women and men The second wave of
feminism Wrote A Vindication of the Rights of Women
constitution should protect both women's and men's rights
believed that misteaching led girls to believe that they were inferior
was wrongly perceived as "depressed, atheistic, unattractive, and simultaneously prudish and promiscuous" (Fiona Maccarthy, 3))
feminism was a new idea and wasn't socially accepted Mary Wollstonecraft Naomi Gradinaru
Alyssa Buchthal
Jeffrey Li
Blue Jo The Feminist Lens Works Consulted Kroløkke. New York: SAGE Publications, 2006. 8, 10. SAGE Publications. SAGE Publications, Inc., 6 Oct. 2005. Web. 11 Nov. 2012.
Maccarthy, Fiona. "The First Feminist." The New York Review of Books. Nybooks, n.d. Web. 9 Nov. 2012.
Johnson, Diane, and Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley. Frankenstein. 21-172. New York: Bantam, 1981. Print. Works Cited Frankenstein describes her as "heaven-set" (Shelley, 20) and unflawed
Frankenstein "looked upon Elizabeth as mine--mine to protect, love, and cherish" (Shelley, 21)
Frankenstein was selfish and Elizabeth was the victim of his flaw
Elizabeth puts value on Frankenstein's wishes more than her own when says that she wants their marriage to be "the dictate of [Frankenstein's] own free choice" (Shelley, 172). Frankenstein's Relationship with
Elizabeth Walton's sister's letters are not shown.
Walton ignores his sister's good advice Walton's Letters to his
Sister Through the perspective of the flawed male characters, however, we see perfection within the form of the female, specifically Caroline Beaufort, Elizabeth Lavenza, and Justine Moritz. And below, we see just mere proof of their perfection
Caroline Beaufort- Took in an infant and raised her as a member of her family
Elizabeth Lavenza- Was the model daughter after her mothers death, providing support and taking over fluidly as the matriarch of the family
Justine Moritz- selflessly cared for others and sacrificed herself Perspectives cont. Key Scholar:
Alice Walker

Argue that feminism is driven by white, middle class women, and should be represented by all women.
Often focus on the multiple layers of discrimination that non-white, female characters face in the book. Multicultural Feminism Key Scholars:
Friedrich Engels
Lillian Robinson
Argues that men are the land-owning class that treat women like slaves
Focus on the economic conditions that book was published in—if a book were written by a woman, they would assess how her class (for feminist marxists, it would be almost slavery) affected her writing. Marxist Feminism Publicity within media gave attention to her causes
Used media to fuel charity/actions in favor or feminism
started all girl schools around the globe Oprah Winfrey Wrote about feminism and black rights
Received a Pulitzer Prize for The Color Purple, a fictional book that highlights racism and sexism towards black women Alice Walker 1990s-present
An attempt to assert the individuality of women and help women in non-western countries

A recalling of derogatory terms for women, like slut, to show a rebellion from tradition women roles
Organizations like Women Against Fundamentalism work to prevent the denigration of women in developing countries and the Middle East. The third wave
of feminism Late 19th century to early 20th century
Women’s suffrage movement The first wave of feminism Women = Men
women are people and should not be objectified
women should not have to depend on a male
women should not conform to stereotypes
women should be able to vote
women should not be held back in the workplace because of their sex
women should make equal money
women should be able to get any job they want (political positions, soldier in the army) Main Arguments of Feminism The Feminist Lens focuses on how female and male relationships are portrayed in the novel, what rights female characters have, and how they are viewed/treated because of those rights. The Feminist Lens Elizabeth is presented as the perfect being—"a creature who seemed to shed radiance from her looks" (Shelley 20), and "the living spirit of love" (Shelley, 22).
Again Victor shows his flaws as he thinks that it is him that will be killed on his wedding night.
Again, Elizabeth is the victim to his flaw, getting killed by the monster. Aronson, Pamela. "Feminists or "Postfeminists"?: Young Women's Attitudes toward Feminism and Gender Relations." JSTOR. Gender and Society, n.d. Web. 10 Nov. 2012.
Aaron, Jane. “The Return of the Repressed: Reading Mary Shelley’s The Last Man”. Feminist Criticism: Theory and Practice. Ed. Susan Sellers. New York: Harvester Wheatsheaf, 1991. Print.
Bennet, Judith M. "Feminism and History." Gender & History 1.3 (1989): 251-72. USC Research Computing Facility. University of Southern California. Web. 9 Nov. 2012.
Bundy Seabury, Marcia. "The Monsters We Create: Woman on the Edge of Time and Frankenstein." Proquest. N.p., Winter 2001. Web. 10 Nov. 2012.
Davis, James P. "Frankenstein and the Subversion of the Masculine Voice." Women's Studies: An Interdisciplinary Journal 21.3 (1992): 307-22. The Pennsylvania Electronic Edition. The University of Pennsylvania. Web. 9 Nov. 2012.
Ellis, Kate. "Fatal Attraction, or the Post-Modern Prometheus." JSTOR. The Journal of Sex Research, n.d. Web. 10 Nov. 2012.
Ellis, Kate. Monsters in the Garden: Mary Shelley and the Bourgeois Family. Rep. The University of Pennsylvania, n.d. Web. 10 Nov. 2012.
Fernald, Annie E. Virginia Woolf: Feminism and the Reader. New York: Palgrave MacMillan, 2006. Print.
Gubar, Susan. "Horror's Twin: Mary Shelley's Monstrous Eve." The Madwoman in the Attic: The Woman Writer and the Nineteenth-Century Literary Imagination. By Sandra M. Gilbert. New Haven: Yale UP, 1979. 213-47. The Pennsylvania Electronic Edition. The University of Pennsylvania. Web. 10 Nov. 2012.
Gunther-Canada, Wendy. "Teaching Mary Wollstonecraft: Women and the Canonical Conversation of Political Thought." Jstor.com. University of Illinois Press, 12 Mar. 2005. Web. 8 Nov. 2012.
Haraway, Donna. "Situated Knowledges: The Science Question in Feminism and the Privilege of Partial Perspective." Feminist Studies 14.3 (1988): 575-99. Proquest.com. Feminist Studies Inc. Web. 4 Nov. 2012.
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