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7 Reasons Why Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein is a Feminist Masterpiece

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7 Reasons Why Mary Shelley's Frankenstein is a Feminist Masterpiece - Enya's Attic

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Mary Shelley's Frankenstein, or The Modern Prometheus, published in 1818, doesn’t naturally spring to mind when we’re thinking of feminists texts.

The lack of female characters and the somewhat secondary roles of the ones that are present typically raises more criticism than praise from feminist circles.

And yet look a little deeper into the context as well as the content of Shelley’s revolutionary work, at her rejection of stereotypes and her side swipe at conventional thought, and you’ll see that Frankenstein is actually a feminist masterpiece.


Authorship and the Female Voice

Frankenstein's most striking feminist aspect is, of course, its authorship. At a time when women’s voices were often silenced or underestimated, Mary Shelley roared with creativity and courage, breakingthrough the barriers of gender expectations.

Her masterpiece proved that women could excel in the male-dominated realm of literatureinspiring generations of female writers to follow in her footsteps.


Female Characters and Agency

It’s true that Frankenstein’s main characters are predominately male. But the women who are present are diverse in personality, each acting with their own degree of agency and influence too.

Elizabeth, Victor Frankenstein's adoptive sister, embodies both tenderness and strength, challenging traditional gender roles.

In contrast, the female Monster, though brief in her appearance, raises questions about female identity and the significance of patriarchal rejection and judgment.


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Feminine Power and Creation

Some of the most interesting themes that the novel explores are those of  creation and procreationThese are themes traditionally associated with the female domain.

Yet through Victor Frankenstein's ambitious quest to create life, Shelley highlights the power of creation and its potential implications. In doing so, this pioneering author disrupts the standardnotion of women as the sole creators and nurturers of life.


Critique of Male Ambition

Frankenstein critiques the unchecked male ambition and the pursuit of knowledge without ethical considerations.

Victor's relentless ambition ultimately leads to destruction, reflecting the consequences of patriarchal hubris.

The novel suggests that an imbalanced, male-dominated pursuit of power can have disastrous consequences for individuals and society.


Rejection of Stereotypical Roles

The characters' actions challenge gender stereotypes prevalent in Shelley's time.

The Monster's desire for companionship and social connection reflects the universal human need for emotional bonds, transcending gender expectations.

As such, Shelley presents a more nuanced perspective on what it means to be human and sneaks in some side eye on the restrictive roles assigned to men and women.


Female Empathy and Understanding

Through the Monster's narrative, Shelley demonstrates the power of empathy and understanding, traditionally considered feminine attributes.

The Monster's experiences of rejection and isolation invoke sympathy, encouraging readers to empathise with characters beyond traditional gender norms.


Exploration of Female Creativity

And finally, Frankenstein’s  underlying exploration of creativity and intellectual curiosity goes beyond traditional male representations.

After all, it’s Mary Shelley's own intellectual and creative capabilities that  shine through the work, proving that women can embrace and explore  profound philosophical and scientific concepts.


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