Trauma In Frankenstein

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An exploration of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein through the gendered lens of the author’s role as a mother begets an intriguing exploration of the role of the birth and death of offspring in the novel. At its heart, Frankenstein is a family saga; an account of the disjointed relationship between a father and child that proves wicked due to abandonment and neglect, born out of Frankenstein’s fear of the monster’s deathly nature. As argued by Moer, Mary Shelley’s experiences constantly combining birth and death inform Frankenstein as a reflection on post-partum trauma and has further implications as to the destructive nature of Frankenstein’s subsequent fear of childbirth.
In “Female Gothic: the Monster’s Mother,” Ellen Moers argues that Frankenstein,
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When making the decision to destroy his half-finished female form, Victor recalls that he had already “created a fiend of unparalleled barbarity” in his first monster, and that this new creation might even be “ten thousand times more malignant than her mate” (138). In the wake of the trauma the monster has caused both to himself and his family (via his post-partum depressive state and the deaths of Justine and William respectively), Frankenstein is now overwhelmingly conscious of the horrible consequences that birth can entail. In contrast to his previous aspirations, he characterizes his creation with words of negative connotation such as “barbarous” and “fiend,” and suggests that a future creation could even be exponentially more evil. Victor’s initial dreams of fatherhood have been grotesquely morphed into terror of future creation, which would be made possible by creating a female monster. He speculates that one of the first results of creating a mate for his monster would be a “race of devils…propagated upon the earth” who would make the “very existence of man…full of terror” (138). Victor fears his female monster more than his male monster because of the former’s potential as a woman to sire children of her own, which would prove fatal for humanity. Because of his previous experience birthing death (the “trauma of afterbirth” as expressed by Moers), the notion of…show more content…
Moer’s thesis boldly applies contextual information about Shelley’s life—oriented so inextricably around pregnancy and death—and her unique perspective as a mother and writer to contend with the novels larger themes of the malignant effects of trauma and legacy. Just as Victor crafts his monster, Shelley Crafts her own creation—this very novel—as an experiment that binds death and life to achieve intriguing and terrifying
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