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Feminist critic Anne K. Mellor argues that Mary Shelley's Frankenstein is an attack on masculine Romanticism. To what extent do you agree with Mellor's assessment?

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Introduction

Feminist critic Anne K. Mellor argues that Mary Shelley's Frankenstein is an attack on masculine Romanticism. To what extent do you agree with Mellor's assessment? I believe that Mary Shelley's Frankenstein is an attack on the masculine Romanticism, thus, meaning my agreement with Mellor's assessment. In Shelley's novel, the ambitious Romantic hero, Victor Frankenstein, challenges the laws of nature by trying to dominate the role of the females. He attempts to do so by creating artificial life, however, his attempt to tamper with the "ever-varied powers of nature", is then the cause for his "destruction". One interpretation of the novel is that man must keep equilibrium between his ambitious "pursuit of knowledge" and "the tranquility of his domestic affections", not allowing one aspect to "interfere" with another. Shelley structures her novel in a way that Walton's framing tale is used as a warning to the readers who can relate to masculine characteristics, telling them to tame their ambition before it's too late. And through Frankenstein's narrative, Shelley hopes that the readers can "deduce an apt moral" being that over ambition corrupts. ...read more.

Middle

Throughout Frankenstein's narrative, vocabulary associated with isolation, religion and witchcraft is used to describe his story. Frankenstein described his work as the "unhallowed arts" which he created by "collecting bones in charnel houses", and "disturbed" them with fingers that he described as being "profane". The effect of using the word "profane" is that it shows his awareness of irreverence to God, and by using the metaphor "unhallowed arts" to describe his work, it indicates that he created something that he considers as being "evil". Another effect of Shelley's choice of vocabulary is that it introduces gothic themes, such as darkness and alienation; which is further emphasized by Walton's setting in the artic oceans, and Frankenstein's constant use of dominative vocabulary, such as "sole" and "one"; which also indicates obsessive behavior. By showing Frankenstein's awareness of his previous actions, Shelley is able to convey a sense of darkness and regret that was caused by his impulsive excitement, which led him to neglect the consequential factors. Frankenstein's character of being caught up in" passion" and "transitory desire" may have been influenced by Percy Shelley as his quote, "discoursing with increasing vehemence", reflects Frankenstein's eagerness, impatience and egoism to create something scientific based on an emotional judgment. ...read more.

Conclusion

At first, the light imagery in Frankenstein symbolizes enlightenment, discovery and knowledge. In the beginning, Frankenstein metaphorically phrases his ideas as being a "new light". An "ineffectual light" is then used to signify his hope for making his revolutionary idea a success. However, the light imagery which signified hope and discovery then changed into becoming a "torrent of light", which can be seen as signifying the light of knowledge's blinding intensity. Light is often associated with fire; and fire hurts the ones who try to 'penetrate' it. This then attaches a sense of harm to the light of discovery and knowledge which the scientists try so hard to grasp on to. Another way of seeing the association of the light imagery with fire is through the myth of Prometheus, who suffers sever punishment for introducing the knowledge of fire to mankind. Like Prometheus, Frankenstein 'tries' to introduce forbidden knowledge to the human race, but fails and is punished for it. This then leads to the message being that his hunger for 'glory' only led to his "utter destruction", which was foreseen during Frankenstein's account of the oak tree that inspired him to use galvanism to "animate...lifeless matter". ...read more.

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