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jenny wemyss

on 3 March 2013

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"Mary Shelley presents Frankenstein as fearing his own sexuality and even as having repressed sexual feelings towards his mother" what are your reactions to this view? What we will discuss...
* Fear of his own sexuality
* Victor's feelings towards his mother
* Asexuality
* Womb envy and fear of women
* The Gothic
* Homosexuality
(Victor and Clerval,
Victor and the creature) It could be considered that in Frankenstein, Victor is represented as fearing his own sexuality. For example, it is very ambiguous as to how Victor feels about the other characters within the novel; due to his Byronic/Gothic protagonist qualities such as his egocentric nature. He also constantly isolates himself, another Gothic protagonist quality.

"I passed whole days on the lake alone in a little boat" pg. 124

Victor feels most contented when he is secluded from society, even his family. Shelley portrays him as unable to love and this could be representative of Victor rejecting his own sexuality, as he is uncomfortable with human contact. On the other hand, this could simply be a portrayal of his fear of the creature and Shelley's warning that science is dangerous and uncontrollable. The fact Victor has no power over the creature, and fears it himself, would be considered frightening to a 17th Century audience, as they had few ideas of the power of science.

Another indication of Victor fearing sexuality is when he is creating the monster; the first thing Victor worries is that

"one of the first results of those sympathies for which he daemon thirsted would be children"

Therefore instead of the dangers of a supernatural creature he fears it for sexual reasons. it is easy to see how Frankenstein (himself afraid of sexuality and procreation) feels threatened by the monster. Fear of his own sexuality... Repressed sexual feelings towards his mother... Victor's dream is one of the main indications of his repressed sexual feelings towards his mother;

In his dream the idea that his wife whom he imprints the "first kiss on her lips" is transformed into his mother could imply that Victor has incestuous feelings towards her. This is made more gothic and disturbing for the reader as he holds the "corpse of my dead mother in my arms". The implications of necrophilia are shocking and have implications of gothic horror and terror.
Victor's obsession of creating life is driven by the death of his mother as he attempts to "eradicate disease", this is exemplifies his feelings for his mother as he wishes she hadn't died, therefore inspiring him to create life from death. However this could just be seen as a fear of sexuality or that Victor could only have relationships with women he grew up with. Homosexuality Victor and Clerval
Disagreeing with the statement that Victor fears his own sexuality or has none, it is argued by some critics that Victor is homosexual. His descriptions of, and emotions towards Clerval, are portrayed far more positively than those felt toward Elizabeth;

"Nothing could equal my delight on seeing Clerval"

Being with Clerval are some of Victors only moments of delight within the novel, which critics see as an indication of his homosexuality.
However, Feminist critics often see his lack of interest toward women and particularly his wife as a criticism of patriarchy. As all the females within the novel are very disposable Shelley's criticism could be that women are treat as insignificant. The relationship between Victor and Clerval could be representative of the 'mans world' which Shelley lived in, showing that Victor has no time for women in his life. Victor and Walton

"in believing that friendship is not only a desirable, but a possible acquisition. I once had a friend, the most noble of human creatures, and am entitled, therefore, to judge respecting friendship."

This quote has homosexual connotations as it could be perceived that Victor and Walton are 'coming out' to each other. During the time of writing the word 'friend' was often considered as a code word for "the lover of another man". This therefore contradicts the statement that Victor fears his own sexuality as he is revealing it to a stranger. This also supports the point that Victor may be in love with Clerval as he is often referred to as his "dearest Clerval" and is the most likely person Victor refers to as the "most noble of human creatures" Victor and the Creature

One of the main quotes which queer theory is applied to in Frankenstein is the Creature telling Victor

"I will be with you on your wedding night"

This could simply be considered a threat linking in with the gothic theme; creating fear by implying the inevitable murder of Elizabeth as a typically gothic female - passive and disposable. However the use of "wedding night" rather than simply wedding day adds sexual connotations. "he held up the curtain of the bed...and his eyes were fixed on me" the monster here is an image of Victors sexual guilt.

It could also be argued that Victor is homosexual and the Creature is a manifestation of this. When the creature gains life it is symbolic of Victors realisation of his own sexuality of his own sexuality. some would say that his reaction, trying to flee, shows his disgust in his own sexuality and feelings towards the creature. Victor's internal revelation is a form of self loathing of his homosexual identity which would not be accepted during the 17th century. Fear of Women It is often considered that Victor fears women and relationships with them, Victor refers to his marriage as a "Union" which seems to suggest a non-loving relationship far less caring than his descriptions of Clerval.

Victor's fear of women can be traced back to his mother. Her early death, it can be argued, caused him to become less attached to women. Even Elizabeth, the woman he is supposed to marry gets little focus while he is away, showing his lack of interest. The wedding night is when we would expect a large focus on Elizabeth however he does not join her in their marital bed "she left me". This foreshadowing also symbolises his lack of sexual feeling towards Elizabeth, leaving her to the fate of the monster.

Another indication of Victor's fear of women is not only their lack of presence within the novel but also Victor's destruction of them. His actions lead to the death of the female roles within the novel such a Justine and Elizabeth, however his main destruction is the creation of the female creature. He was incapable of destroying the male creature however he was able to dispose of her with ease "trembling with passion, tore to pieces the thing" as well as representing Victors fear of women feminist critics see Shelley as critiquing a weakness of females within society and as an effort to show the negatives of patriarchal society.

When Victor destroys the female monster he also destroys his marriage with Elizabeth before they have been able to consummate their marriage. The Creature strangles Elizabeth on their wedding bed which could be symbolic of Victors homosexuality destroying his own marriage also linking with the Byronic hero quality of being self destructive. Asexual and Womb Envy Victor's lack of sexual interest could be an indication of him being asexual, without sex or sexuality, this is solidified in his creation of a being. By creating the ultimate means of asexual reproduction; Frankenstein essentially steals the female power over reproduction by eliminating their primary biological function and source of cultural power, by doing so there is no reason the race Victor hopes to create should not be exclusively male. Feminists see this as a criticism of Shelley's culture where women's sole purpose was for reproduction.

Some critics also apply Womb Envy to the creation; Victor's main aim is to be able to create new life effectively ridding of the need of women. It is often considered that the need to create life asexually is down to Womb Envy and a jealousy of women being able to do something he cannot, stemming from his Byronic arrogance and want to be of a higher social ranking. The Gothic and AO4 When considering AO4 the birth scene of the male monster is particularly interesting for feminist criticism. Shelley's mother. Mary Wollstonecraft, was the first feminist writer and died during childbirth. Shelley herself had three children who dies only one lived through adulthood. Therefore Shelley' message could be portraying the difficulties of childbirth.

Frankenstein is a particularly sexless novel when its considered that the gothic genre and gothic protagonists are usually involving a strong sexual element. This is especially peculiar given that the novel explores procreation and marriage.

When considering Victor's sexuality it is also important to consider sexual norms within the social context of Shelley's era. Homosexuality would be considered unacceptable and this is reflected within the novel therefore by constructing a homosexual protagonist Shelley would be conforming to the Gothic genres tendency to react against the norms. Frankenstein's sexuality...? Homosexual? Rejecting any Sexuality? Frankenstein unconsciously creates a male creature and seems to 'desire' his creation.
Frankenstein's descriptions of his male friend Clerval on seeing him far outweigh anything he says of Elizabeth, his fiancee: on seeing Clerval he says "Nothing could equal my delight on seeing Clerval"
When Frankenstein reveals his feelings about his impending marriage with Elizabeth his horror and dismay seem excessive.
Frankenstein's repetition of the word 'union' as a replacement for 'marriage' seems to suggest that he does not see it as a loving and sexual relationship.
On his wedding night, Frankenstein describes the coming night as "Dreadful, very dreadful."
In creating a male monster, or, in fact, any monster at all, Frankenstein is rejecting human reproduction and, therefore, 'normal' sexuality by usurping the role of women. This may indicate that he sees no role for women within his life.
Victor is hasty to leave Elizabeth on their wedding night, believing that the Creature is downstairs. He does not confront his sexuality by remaining with Elizabeth in the bedroom. The Creature Victor creates is regarded by some as the embodiment of his sexuality. Perhaps the ugliness of the Creature is suggestive of his feeling of repulsion towards any sexuality.
Frankenstein is constantly isolating himself from everything; he believes this is necessary to fulfil his 'quest'. However, there are many suggestions within the text that he is running away from 'normal' human relationships and any kind of sexual love.
Frankenstein's terrible nightmare seems to be a rejection of 'normal' sexuality. When he attempts to kiss Elizabeth she turns into the corpse of his mother. This may be a hint of the thing that frightens Frankenstein the most about his 'monstrous' sexuality - his incestuous desires.
The description of the mountainous region to which Frankenstein travels may represent his isolation from the rest of humanity - including human relationships and affection.
"Mary Shelley presents Frankenstein as fearing his own sexuality and even as having repressed sexual feelings towards his mother" what are your reactions to this view? <iframe width="853" height="480" src="http://www.youtube.com/embed/t37SqNQ_W6E" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>
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