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LizzieAnn
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Re: Discuss the Later Chapters

Having no real familiarity with Shelley, Byron, or Coleridge, I can't illustrate any points. However, this question did lead me to read up a bit on Romanticism. Among my reading, I found this at wikipedia.com under Romanticism: "a reaction against the rationalization of nature, in art and literature it stressed strong emotion as a source of aesthetic experience, placing new emphasis on such emotions as trepidation, horror, and the awe experienced in confronting the sublimity of nature."

The 3 poets mentioned above are among the greatest, if not the greatest, of the Romantic poets. For those of us unfamiliar with this movement, it's not quite what's expected. We hear romance, and think love & beauty, not horror and trepidation. Having read brief bios on these poets, it seems as though the way the lived was in direct correlation to what they wrote - and to the contribution of the definition of Romanticism. The way they lived seems how they wrote. The 3 poets, along with Mary Shelley, seem to have lead unorthodox, difficult, and somewhat tragic lives - with two dying young. If their writing was influenced by their lives, than that could be what translated into Mary's Frankenstine - horror, tragedy, creation, and even the suggestion of incest in the original story.

I am curious to read their writings, but I think that they may be difficult to read. Like many, I read Coleridge's "The Rime of the Ancient Mariner" in high school. Although I don't remember much of it, I do remember it was difficult to read. It did, however, introduce both the word & the concept of an albatross into my life.



LitEditor wrote:

2. To what extent was this novel influenced by the work of fellow Romantic writers, like Mary Shelley's husband Percy Bysshe Shelley, or Byron and Coleridge? If you are familiar with their poetry, can you see places in which Mary Shelley's work resonates with theirs?
Liz ♥ ♥


Some books are to be tasted, others to be swallowed, and some few to be chewed and digested. ~ Francis Bacon
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zebulak
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Re: Shelley and the female creature


Choisya wrote:...I find it very interesting (and rather worrying) that VF (therefore MS) concludes the “SHE might become ten thousand times more malignant” and that the first results of her union with his creature would be “a race of devils” who might make the existence of mankind “a condition precarious and full of terror”. He (and MS) seemingly had no such thoughts about his first creation, his Adam, but here he mimics the lot of the sinful Biblical Eve. Mary Shelley was the daughter of one of the world's greatest and earliest feminists, Mary Wollstonecraft, and I therefore find it worrying that she saw the possibility of the creation of a female in such a light:smileysad::smileysad: I suspect that her mother turned in her grave when this was written!




Well, Adam had his Lilith before he had his Eve.
(Great post, Choisya. You had me chuckling at the end.)

Robin in VA
Quickly, bring me a beaker of wine so I may wet my mind and say something clever. --Aristophanes
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donyskiw
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Re: about the 1831 edition vs the 1818 edition

I have the Everyman's edition of Frankenstein and the introduction is by Wendy Lesser who is teh founding editor of The Threepenny Review in Berkeley, California. Previous publications include The Life Below Ground: A Study of the Subterranean in Literature and History, and His Other Half: Men Looking at Women Through Art. She doesn't talk a lot about the changes between the two versions but she says more about the different prefaces to each edition. In the first 1818 preface she explains that she got the story idea from a dream. She also explains in the preface more about how electricity was where the monster's spark of life came from, and that Victor left the monster in his apartment hoping it would just die as easily as it came to life.

Denise
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EvieJoy
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Re: Shelley and the female creature



zebulak wrote:

Choisya wrote:...I find it very interesting (and rather worrying) that VF (therefore MS) concludes the “SHE might become ten thousand times more malignant” and that the first results of her union with his creature would be “a race of devils” who might make the existence of mankind “a condition precarious and full of terror”. He (and MS) seemingly had no such thoughts about his first creation, his Adam, but here he mimics the lot of the sinful Biblical Eve. Mary Shelley was the daughter of one of the world's greatest and earliest feminists, Mary Wollstonecraft, and I therefore find it worrying that she saw the possibility of the creation of a female in such a light:smileysad::smileysad: I suspect that her mother turned in her grave when this was written!




Well, Adam had his Lilith before he had his Eve.
(Great post, Choisya. You had me chuckling at the end.)

Robin in VA




MS may have been the daughter of a well-known feminist but she was very young at this time. She seems to have been more influenced by her husband than her mother at this time and wasn't her mother's work recognized more with the passing of time?
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EvieJoy
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Re: The Modern Prometheus



LizzieAnn wrote:
There are no heroes in this story. Victor is anything but.

I agree. I don't find either Victor or the creature to be heroes. As far as a prometheus, Victor may have given the spark of life to the creature but the creature, abandoned by his creator, is unable to assimilate into society or any kind of life that makes him productive or happy - wouldn't that make the experiment an ultimate failure?
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IlanaSimons
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fault

Your point is interesting--that Victor failed in his project. But there have also been some interesting comments in this list comparing the monster's life to issues of class or race. That is: It's not only Victor's fault that the monster remains an outsider. It's also the fault of the larger community which can't incorporate the outsider. No one in this larger (Bourgeois) community can accept this monster (working class?/foreigner?) into their world.



Ilana
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LizzieAnn
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Re: fault

That's a good point. Victor is a part of his society. The monster's rejection is a rejection by all society. In his case, it seems to be rejection born of fear - fear of the unknown...fear of that which isn't "the norm." Such rejection has always occurred in society: lepers were driven away - in the early years of the AIDS outbreak people who contracted the disease were shunned, fired from jobs, avoided - people turn away from those who's physical appearance isn't what is deemed "the norm."

If the creature hadn't been created from various parts, but was instead re-animated from a single body, would Victor have turned away from him? Would society have eventually come to accept him in some way? After all, he was intelligent. He learned to speak and learned about the ways of the world. He even came to know right from wrong. If his appearance had been so terrifying, would his assimiliation into the world have been easier.




IlanaSimons wrote:
Your point is interesting--that Victor failed in his project. But there have also been some interesting comments in this list comparing the monster's life to issues of class or race. That is: It's not only Victor's fault that the monster remains an outsider. It's also the fault of the larger community which can't incorporate the outsider. No one in this larger (Bourgeois) community can accept this monster (working class?/foreigner?) into their world.


Liz ♥ ♥


Some books are to be tasted, others to be swallowed, and some few to be chewed and digested. ~ Francis Bacon
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ELee
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First Ladies

Choisya wrote: "I find it very interesting (and rather worrying) that VF (therefore MS) concludes the “SHE might become ten thousand times more malignant” and that the first results of her union with his creature would be “a race of devils” who might make the existence of mankind “a condition precarious and full of terror”. He (and MS) seemingly had no such thoughts about his first creation, his Adam, but here he mimics the lot of the sinful Biblical Eve."

I didn’t view this as an attack on womankind in general, rather I saw it as relating to the female icons of traditional creation stories in patriarchal cultures presented to contrast Mary Shelley’s inverted theme. As a “first lady” of a species, whose existence is contingent upon providing companionship to a male counterpart, the female creature would have much in common with Pandora of Greek mythology or Eve from the Bible. Each would be made in the male’s image and formed of like material: Pandora and Eve beautiful, human women and the she-creature a horrific, wretched malignancy. As well, all three would ultimately be the means to unleash devastation and suffering upon the whole of mankind. Born through the efforts of a higher power, Eve and Pandora were given a pleasing appearance and nature and placed in a suitable environment with more than adequate provisions to sustain a productive life. The evil that they precipitated was a “punishment” received for disobedience that disrupted a “natural order”, which also served to explain how mankind came to arrive at his present state of imperfection. The she-creature, manufactured by a seriously flawed human who attempted to rival the noble purpose of God (the gods) in creating life, was suffered to be “unmade” as a result of similar disruptive ambitions on the part of Victor Frankenstein, whose punishment in turn was to lose all he held dear in life. His presumptive self-importance, the exaggerated conceit of his abilities, and the elevated purpose of his experiments combined with a total lack of responsibility for procreation or any consideration of consequences in producing his original “creature”, prompted him to act against the “scheme of things”. Even his decision to abandon the completion of the “female” was based more on how he would be perceived by mankind than by what devastation the demons would actually cause.
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ELee
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Responsibility part 1 - Victor's failure

Victor Frankenstein is a concept man. Stimulated by the idea of challenging the bounds of life and death and reveling in the afterglow of the fame and adulation that would follow such an accomplishment, he gave little thought to what would become of the “happy and excellent natures” of his new species once the spark of life had animated their grateful forms.

That Victor’s high-flown experiment went awry was hardly surprising. His need for speed altered his original intent requiring a “being of a gigantic stature”. Accepting that his work might be imperfect but hoping to “lay the foundations of future success”, he pointed his endeavors in a generalized direction without specific knowledge of how to achieve the desired product for animation. Though he often turned “with loathing from [his] occupation”, his blind ambition carried him through to the completion of the project. But once Victor realized that his “infinite pains and care” had formed a “catastrophe”, he was “unable to endure the aspect” of his creation and, filled with “horror and disgust”, he fled.

But was his failure entirely his own fault? During the formative years of what he perceived as an idyllic childhood, Victor was an object of his parents’ love, rather than its subject. They provided little (if any) guidance or discipline to direct his developing mental and emotional resources and allowed him to freely pursue whatever interested him. Though it may be presumed that by following this course of inaction no harm is done, it has since been found that the effects of neglect can be as great as those of abuse. To some extent, learning is initially a process of trial and error; first judgments are made based on consequences resulting from actions. As experience is gained, it is not necessary to wait for an outcome: a judgment is made based on intention. Since Victor Frankenstein was never placed in a position to face consequences as a child, he did not recognize them as an adult. As a result, he has an “excuse” for everything that dismisses him from culpability. While he did fail as a "father" to his repugnant offspring, rejecting the creature as an abomination and refusing to accept any responsibility for it's ensuing existence, his repudiation was but the first of many abuses the creature was to encounter.
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chad
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Re: preface

I think the Shelleys reinforce a theme with the inroduction and the preface- we mold each other into something we fashion, sometimes creating a monster...
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IlanaSimons
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molding each other

Good point.

Something else we haven't brought up so far is that Mary Shelley dedicated Frankenstein to her father, William Godwin. Godwin was a reformer who believed that education was key to "prepar[ing] a generation capable of saving the human race." This comes from http://www.hailmaryshelley.com. More from there: "Godwin's _Enquiry Concerning Political Justice_ describes dangers we humans pose to ourselves and methods he sees as necessary to successfully address those dangers. [...] By the time Mary Shelley wrote Frankenstein, her father's ideas, which had for
a time been widely discussed, were being tried by only a few, such as Robert Owen. [...] Shelley designed Frankenstein to insure that her father's life's work would survive a long period
of neglect and be available when needed."

Robert Owen was the socialist who built New Harmony--a utopian living experiment--in America in 1825.



Ilana
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Choisya
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Re: Shelley and the female creature



EvieJoy wrote:


zebulak wrote:

Choisya wrote:...I find it very interesting (and rather worrying) that VF (therefore MS) concludes the “SHE might become ten thousand times more malignant” and that the first results of her union with his creature would be “a race of devils” who might make the existence of mankind “a condition precarious and full of terror”. He (and MS) seemingly had no such thoughts about his first creation, his Adam, but here he mimics the lot of the sinful Biblical Eve. Mary Shelley was the daughter of one of the world's greatest and earliest feminists, Mary Wollstonecraft, and I therefore find it worrying that she saw the possibility of the creation of a female in such a light:smileysad::smileysad: I suspect that her mother turned in her grave when this was written!




Well, Adam had his Lilith before he had his Eve.
(Great post, Choisya. You had me chuckling at the end.)

Robin in VA




MS may have been the daughter of a well-known feminist but she was very young at this time. She seems to have been more influenced by her husband than her mother at this time and wasn't her mother's work recognized more with the passing of time?





But her husband was a radical too and very much sympathised with her mother on women's issues. They both moved in radical and bohemian circles. Mary Wollstonecraft and her husband William Godwin were recognised in their own time as radicals.
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IlanaSimons
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Re: Responsibility part 1 - Victor's failure

I am interested in your reading of Victor's childhood.
One question is: Would Shelley have said Victor was neglected, or set free?

In some spots on this list today, we've been looking into Mary Shelley's own father, the political reformer William Godwin. Godwin had distinct ideas about how you've got to let a kid think on his own, to find what truly interests him. Here are some neat excerpts from Godwin's writing. I'd love to know anyone's response to these ideas about teaching and child rearing:

"Man is a creature that loves to act from himself; and actions performed in this way, have infinitely more of health and vigour in them, than the actions to which he is prompted by a will foreign to his own." ("Of Choice In Reading", Enquirer, XV.)

"Motives are of two sorts, intrinsic and extrinsic. [...] The first of these classes of motives is unquestionably the best. To be governed by such motives is the pure and genuine condition of a rational being. [...] It elevates us with a sense of independence. It causes a man to stand alone, and is the only method by which he can be rendered truly an individual, the creature, not of implicit faith, but of his own understanding." ("Of the Communication of Knowledge", Enquirer, IX.)

"...As the true object of education is not to render the pupil the mere copy of his preceptor, it is rather to be rejoiced in, than lamented, that various reading should lead him into new trains of thinking... ("Of Choice In Reading", Enquirer, XV.)

what do you think: was Godwin [and/or daughter Mary] too in love with independence?



Ilana
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IlanaSimons
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women in the book (**possible plot spoiler**)

[ Edited ]
This discussion of women in the book is interesting.

At other places on the list this weekend, we've also been looking at Shelley's tendency to either romanticize or simplify the Eastern races (her calling the monster "yellow-skinned," etc.).

I'm wondering if you can comment on the Turkish tale, in Vol II, with Safie?
Safie flees from the Muslim world, where her father wants her to be quiet, uneducated, Muslim wife. Safie's mother had told her "to aspire to higher powers of intellect, and an independence of spirit, forbidden to the female followers of Mahomet." So she flees to Europe.

Safie's like the monster--an outcast with yellow skin--but she's able to assimilate. She's one of the strongest women (though a minor role) in the book.

It's as if she's the positive outcome which plays foil to the monster's tragedy.

Anyone want to comment on Shelley's ideas of women here?
Does Shelley draw too simple a line between the assumed repressed Muslim woman and the liberated intellectual Western woman?

Message Edited by IlanaSimons on 11-12-200611:18 PM




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Choisya
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Re: women in the book (**possible plot spoiler**)



IlanaSimons wrote:
This discussion of women in the book is interesting.

At other places on the list this weekend, we've also been looking at Shelley's tendency to either romanticize or simplify the Eastern races (her calling the monster "yellow-skinned," etc.).

I'm wondering if you can comment on the Turkish tale, in Vol II, with Safie?
Safie flees from the Muslim world, where her father wants her to be quiet, uneducated, Muslim wife. Safie's mother had told her "to aspire to higher powers of intellect, and an independence of spirit, forbidden to the female followers of Mahomet." So she flees to Europe.

Safie's like the monster--an outcast with yellow skin--but she's able to assimilate. She's one of the strongest women (though a minor role) in the book.

It's as if she's the positive outcome which plays foil to the monster's tragedy.

Anyone want to comment on Shelley's ideas of women here?
Does Shelley draw too simple a line between the assumed repressed Muslim woman and the liberated intellectual Western woman?

Message Edited by IlanaSimons on 11-12-200611:18 PM






The tale of Safie as told by the monster is of relevance to us today because the role of Muslim women has been much discussed, especially in Europe where the use of the veil has been heavily criticised in recent weeks. Oddly enough our criticisms of Muslim women centre around strict gender division and their passivity and repression, whereas MS shows Safie to be rebelling against patriarchal society. In Frankenstein it is the English women who are passive and repressed, conforming as they do to being the 'Angels on the Hearth' so admired by Victorian society. Safie applied the teachings of her mother 'to aspire to higher powers of intellect and an independence of spirit', advice that you can imagine Mary Wollstonecraft giving to MS but which she has denied to her women characters. It is the English women who conform to the strict gender division of 19thC society, whereas Safie de Lacey is 'liberated'. MS seems to be making the comment that the repression and exclusion of women will lead to a breakdown in society, which needs to appreciate its 'feminine side'. Today this is an argument we sometimes apply to men - that they should be in touch with their 'feminine side'.

It seems to me that Victorian women had a need to display their 'masculine side' and only Safie is allowed to do this but as she is from a racial minority her rebellion seems to be criticised by MS, not endorsed. That the De Lacey family do not remain in the novel and run away when the Monster reveals himself to them seems to be a further comment that a rigid patriarchal society will, like a monster, devour all before it, especially its women. However, had MS wished to make a case for women, to 'vindicate' them as her mother had done, she could have allowed Safie and the De Lacey's a more prominent role in the novel and have used fewer passive 'Angels on the Hearth' characters such as Caroline and Justine. Against I feel that she has 'sold out' her sex and that her mother would not have approved:smileyhappy:
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donyskiw
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Re: women in the book (**possible plot spoiler**)

In the monster's telling of the story, Safie's mother "was a Christian Arab, seized and made a slave by the Turks; recommended by her beauty, she had won the heart of the father of Safie, who married her." (Chapter 14) It doesn't say anything about how she felt about Safie's father, whom we all know is a creep. She may have simply caught is eye and won his heart as a way to get promoted from slave to wife. So, of course she was going to influence her daughter to marry a Christian and get out of the way of life she was trapped in.

Denise
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donyskiw
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Re: Responsibility part 1 - Victor's failure

I think Mary thought Victor was set free rather than neglected. He was given Agrippa to read, not simply told to go out and play. He was encouraged but not ignored.

I don't think that Godwin and Mary were too in love with independence. I think they were seeing what happens with people who were too dependent. They not only lived in a society of oppressed women, but also with a class society in which the poor were dependent on the upper classes and were completely unable to break out of their cycle of poverty. They saw education and thinking as the way to change the society by somehow creating a better society.

Denise
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IlanaSimons
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Re: women in the book (**possible plot spoiler**)

[ Edited ]
Really nice observations.

The men do see women here as something to be won, or bartered.

When "Felix saw the lovely Safie [he thought her] a treasure which would fully reward his toil and hazard" for helping out the Turk.

and

"The Turk quickly [saw this] and endeavoured to secure [Felix's effort] by the promise of her hand in marriage, so soon as he should be conveyed to a place of safety."

Message Edited by IlanaSimons on 11-13-200601:28 PM




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IlanaSimons
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the right to think on your own

Nice comment.

here's a line from Mary Wollstonecraft's (Shelley's mom's) book, A Vindication of the Rights of Woman (1792):

"Men...submit every where to oppression, when they have only to lift up their heads to throw off the yoke; yet, instead of asserting their birthright, they quietly lick the dust, and say, let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die."



Ilana
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chad
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Re: molding each other

[ Edited ]
Hi Ilana:

The education in the story and education in general, is something that "moulded" the characters in the story. Reading requirements in English classes, in particular, consist of literature and poems that are really supposed to excite the senses, creating the emotions necessary to produce change in society. But "required reading" or "what we should read" also helps produce that moulding effect of education that we sometimes feel, interfering with the feeling of poetry and sometimes rendering some of our poetry ineffectual, unfortunately. You might remember a class or two in English as being necessary evils....

Chad

Message Edited by chad on 11-13-200608:56 PM

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