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Lecture 5

ENGL 2103 Lecture 5: Frankenstein (Pt. 1)

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ENGL 2103
Henderson Jennifer

Frankenstein by Mary Shelley ***My book is approx. 2-3 pages behind or ahead Doctor Victor Frankenstein and the Monster Mix-up: In pop-culture the characters get mixed up In some sense they are interchangeable or their nature is bound together Victor Frankenstein is extended in his monster: Victor and the monster are complementary characters The monster: represents Victor’s reason cut loose from feeling; reason in isolation from emotion The monster does’t have a name: he is sometimes called a ‘wretch’; the monster in the first play was cast with a dash from his name The Monster’s Behaviours: The monster is more like a depraved infant: he has deep feeling; he feels how the poor family’s lives are He masters language: reads the “intertext” that he finds in a satchel in the forest Intertext: woven into the fabric of the text you are reading; can be a background structure or a specific reference or allusion The story of Adam and Eve (Milton’s version); Paradise Lost, The monster is good, articulate (is one of the narrators) Pg 285-86: a lot of the plays don’t give a voice to Frankenstein which makes him more ‘other’ than us Mary Shelley’s Social Critique: Published in 1818: after the French revolution Revolutions about the fundamental rights of (wo)man The man who interacts with Frankenstein is blind: Those who are labelled as “other” (radicals, outcasts, poor) where represented as monsters for advocating for equality (ex. African slaves seen as sub-human) The creature is made of human parts but not accepted as such: he is parodical; he is only the product of human ambition He is a monster who is close to us: Hannibal Mary Shelley’s History/Autobiography: Mother dies 10 days from childbirth: the interest in a creator-offspring relationship; “a relationship that can only end with the annihilation of one of us” Mary Wollstonecraft: political philosopher; her book condemned the formation (education) of women’s character to be nothing more than “decorative objects” William Godwin: radical writer in England Percy Bysshe Shelley: romantic poet; dies tragically MS has had a lot of babies die: some people see a self-representation on MS Her parent’s writing focused on: the capacity to reason equals a quality society; base in empirical knowledge The novel may be a violent reaction against that: cultivates a sense of horror in response to the work of Dr. Frankenstein The Dedication and Preface: Dedicated to William Godwin (father; pg 46) Preface written by Percy: people think that he wrote it She wrote a new preface to the second edition: makes Victor seem less responsible for what happens In our version: it shows Victor making choices for which he can be condemned; the second edition makes what happen more due to supernatural events Title Page: The quote from Paradise Lost: Adam asks God if he is to be abandoned that he didn’t ask to exist in the first place A lament or challenge to a creator Frankenstein V. The Modern Prometheus: Prometheus: is the benefactor of mankind; he creates humans out of clay and then he steals and gives fire to human being (enables human civilization) Victor is a Prometheus figure The monster: defies his creator, breaks the boundaries that creators have set Genre: Late 18th century Gothic (Otranto) The apartment where he creates Victor: becomes a gothic space when the monster is loose An enclosed chamber The clinical lab becomes the gothic space: gothic develops a sub-genre of science fiction; makes the elements more about the future The novel takes us to sublime settings: the Alps, the Arctic, the North Pole The setting starts: in a scientific and logical place Texts are starting to suggest that the city-life and barbarianism are not so far apart Terror in relation to an unknown future: this gothic is about a time when our present is a distant ruin This novel is often taken to be the first work of science fiction: shows the danger of science over-reaching itself The terror or horror begins in a dream/nightmare Attempt at Life: Biology is turning to material/organic composition for a source of life: before life was its own substance (like an elixir) Life: is the functioning of our organs, not some exterior substance Victor is seeking the magical substance; he discovers it and then build a patchwork human body to hold it: MS suggests that by doing so he defies the natural means of creating life Victor in creating life has bypassed the woman’s role in reproduction (like in Otranto when everything is seen differently once there is a reference to the mother): the night that the monster rises victor has a nightmare in which his mother’s corpse comes to him Victor replaces the mother’s body with science in excessive experimentation: creates a monster that is pure reason In his formation of being a scientist he denies his family and feeling emotions: he
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