First Advisor

Cynthia Port


In the context of Mary Shelley’s biography and prose style, the theme and structure of Frankenstein indicate that, in addition to being an esteemed work of gothic horror, the novel is a feminist birth myth: a perverse story of maternity and a scathing critique of patriarchal dominance over the feminine. Frankenstein, as a maternal figure, repeatedly seeks to smother female sexuality and usurp heterosexual reproduction through grotesque and unnatural means. The ensuing death and violence are consequences of Frankenstein’s inadequacy as a mother and the insufficiency of masculinity. The monster’s morbid conception and subsequent murders intertwine birth and death in profound ways that mirror Shelley’s own traumatic experiences with maternity. Her life and experiences manifest in Frankenstein’s character to create a birth myth which despite its proto-feminist undertones, earned immediate success in literary climate of the 19th century which only tolerated women writing emotive works about domesticity.



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