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Individualism In Frankenstein

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Exigence: Bill Hughes’ “‘A devout but nearly silent listener’: dialogue, sociability, and Promethean individualism in Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein (1818)” is part of an academic conversation analyzing many late Romantic period poets and authors, such as Mary and Percy Shelley. Essentially, Hughes’ article is a continuation of Marilyn Butler’s work, which argues that “the second wave of Romantic poets, such as Byron, Keats, and Percy Shelley, pursued a neoclassical critical rationalism that retained the spirit of Enlightenment radicalism” (Hughes 1). To put it in Hughes’ own words, “[my] article argues that Mary Shelley’s 1818 novel, Frankenstein, continues that dialogism” (Hughes 2). Furthermore, Hughes analyzes the work of several other prominent…show more content…
There are several reasons why Hughes’ target audience is not the general public, nor a group larger than this group of scholars. To start, this article is printed in The Irish Journal of Gothic and Horror Studies issue 16 which “is a peer-reviewed, interdisciplinary, electronic publication dedicated to the study of Gothic and horror literature, film, new media and television” (Irish Journal of Gothic and Horror Studies). Basically, since this article was submitted to a specialized journal dedicated to publishing academic articles, Hughes must be targeting other scholars in the field. Furthermore, the another author from issue 16 is Dr. Hannah Murray of King’s College who has a “PhD in early national American literature [from] the University of Nottingham” and has “taught American literature at [the] University of Nottingham and University of Leicester” (King 's College London - Dr Hannah Murray). Because the other authors of this journal are also scholars, this is a specialized journal not targeting the general public. Moreover, since Hughes directly mentions some other scholars, such as Marilyn Butler and Franco Moretti, the main individuals to whom Hughes is addressing are the other scholars trying to understand both Percy and Mary Shelley’s commentary of the Enlightenment and Romantic periods. Therefore, Hughes’ writing is not an opinion article trying to reach thousands across the…show more content…
To start, Hughes’ thesis is “Shelley uses the ambiguous Romantic avatar of Prometheus to dramatise uneasy tensions between Enlightenment ideas of progress and sociability” (Hughes 2). Furthermore, at the start of his work, Hughes states, “The Romantic period has often been characterised as marking a shift towards the inward and individual” but later states “many writers in the Romantic period cultivated a sociability that was, in some ways, a continuation of the public rationality of the [Enlightenment]” (Hughes 1). Essentially, Hughes is stating that although the Romantic period emphasized the individual, some Romantic authors such as Mary Shelley express, through their work, problems with an individualistic society. Hughes states, “the creature... is also an index of liberating potential of dark, shapeless matter transformed through marvellous human knowledge and imagination, yet constrained by an oppressive, asocial individualism” (21). These quotes connect to me research as I am currently trying to determine how Shelley constructs human nature through her novel Frankenstein. Currently, my research has consistently coincided with both Butler’s and Hughes’ argument. There are many points in the novel which seem to display individualism as a negative quality. For instance, Shelley displays Frankenstein’s blatant
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