A Study of the Feminism in Mary Shelly`s Frankenstein


东方教育 2017年11期


Abstract:Frankenstein had become a classic in the history of science fiction. Now the monster's counterpart often appeared in a lot of fantasy films. And, later, the word of Frankenstein was looked as "stubborn" or "humanoid monster", and "The creature was out of control ", etc. The novel contained multiple themes, and showed the author `s rich thoughts and feelings. And now the novel still has widely significance and value for us to discuss.

Key Words: Frankenstein, Feminism, Mary Shelly, Monster

1. Introduction

Frankenstein was created by the English poet Shelley`s wife, Mary Shelley, in 1818, which was considered the world's first truly science fiction. Frankenstein, the full name of which was Frankenstein - Modern Prometheus story (The Chinese translation is Frankenstein or Atificial Person's story, etc.). Mary Shelley was a famous British female novelist, because she created the first science fiction and was known as the mother of science fiction. Victor Frankenstein was the scientist's name in the novel, and he put many dismembered pieces together into one "person", and used lightning to activate it. Frankenstein had become a classic in the history of science fiction. Now a lot of fantasy films and television programs often appear the replica of this monster. The term of "Frankenstein" was used to refer to the "stubborn" or "humanoid monster" and "creation out of control", etc. But the exploring of this literary masterpiece`s theme had never stopped after it appeared. Many foreign scholars had a lot of discussion on the novel from different angles.

2. A Brief Introduction of Feminism

Feminism referred to female experience for the source and motivation of the social theory and political movement. In addition to social relationship beyond criticism, many feminism supporters also focused on the analysis of the gender inequality and promoted the rights of women, interests and subjects. Feminist theory aimed to understand the essence of inequality and emphasis on gender politics, power relations and sexuality above. Feminism political action had challenged rights of abortion, reproductive, education, voting, family violence, maternity leave, salary, equality, sexual harassment, discrimination and sexual violence and so on. The theme of the feminist inquiry included discrimination, stereotype, physical and chemical (especially about sex and chemical), body, housework distribution, oppression and patriarchy. Feminist`s idea foundation thought, the present society was set up in women of patriarchal system privileges more than a male which was given above. The modern feminist theory was mainly, but not completely from the western middle class academia. However, the feminist movement is a class and race across the boundaries of grassroots movement.

3. The Monster— a Metaphor of Women in Men`s Society

The monster in Frankenstein was forced to accept its invisibility in human society. It was “invisible” to humans for, at first,its mysterious birth in Victor`s laboratory, which was an unspeakable secret. Then, its namelessness and orphanhood was an important sign marking its isolation and marginalized status. At last, the monster`s emphasized its invisibility again unfrequented habitats. Readers could read out from Frankenstein that the monster`s invisibility was a metaphor of women in men`s society.


From the three women`s image and destiny, we can clearly read Mary Shelley`s critical attitude of "the room angel" which was flaunted by the mainstream of the society in the nineteenth century in Europe; and the praise to Elizabeth`s kind and justice, Justin`s mellow simple quality; and the sympathy to their limited and disclosure, questions to the phenomenon of society`s injustice.


[1Dale Spender, Man and Language [M]. London: Rutledge ,1980

[2]Mary Shelly, Frankenstein [M]. London: Penguim Books.Ltd,1995


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