Thursday, February 28, 2013

Book Review, Frankenstein by Mary Shelley

Frankenstein, or the modern Prometheus by Mary Shelly is a commendable work of commentary on feminism and the power to create (life as well as technology). As in most books, one can draw parallels between the personal life of the author and the characters of the book. The writing style is exceptional, especially considering Shelly’s mere age of 19 yrs at which point she started working on this novel.

Even as the book was started in lieu of a ghost story contest, the author relates to us in subtle undertones, the social climate of the post industrialisation era, she was living in. Her views on feminism and science aren’t related in isolation from her personal life.

Mary’s mother died in child birth and her husband, the famous poet Percy Bysshe Shelly left her to chase his romantic interests after she gave birth to a still born child. It is debatable as to whether there was a connection between the still birth and his infidelity. We see that Victor Frankenstein too leaves his 8ft tall baby, or as he calls it-  the monster. Frankenstein’s cousin, Elizabeth seems less human and more of an alter ego of Frankenstein to me; the last shred of his feminine self that struggles to survive in the masculine world.

We see how Shelly mocks the patriarch who abandons his own creation, much like God who condemns his children to mortality and pain. Even as patriarchy is mocked, matriarchy is absent and the presence of the ‘female’- inconsequential. It is ironic how Elizabeth, the only trace of the feminine is murdered by Frankenstein’s own masculine creation.