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Frankenstein Commentary Essay

Frankenstein -- Articles

  1. Adams, "Frankenstein's Vegetarian Monster"
  2. Aldiss, "The Origins of the Species"
  3. Aldrich and Isomaki, "The Woman Writer as Frankenstein"
  4. Baldick, "The Monster Speaks"
  5. Baldick, "Tales of Transgression, Fables of Industry"
  6. Balestra, "Technology in a Free Society"
  7. Bayer-Berenbaum, "Frankenstein and On the Night of the Seventh Moon"
  8. Behrendt, "The Woman Writer's Fate"
  9. Bennett, "Feminism and Editing Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley"
  10. Berman, "Frankenstein; or, the Modern Narcissus"
  11. Bewell, "An Issue of Monstrous Desire"
  12. Blumberg, "Frankenstein and the 'Good Cause'"
  13. Bohls, "Standards of Taste"
  14. Bok, "Monstrosity of Representation"
  15. Botting, "Frankenstein, Werther and the Monster of Love"
  16. Botting, "Frankenstein and the Language of Monstrosity"
  17. Bowerbank, "The Social Order vs. the Wretch"
  18. Brooks, "Godlike Science/Unhallowed Arts"
  19. Brooks, "What is a Monster?"
  20. Brown, "Philosophical View of the Gothic Novel"
  21. Buchen, "Frankenstein and the Alchemy of Creation"
  22. Burwick, "Goethe's Werther and Frankenstein"
  23. Cantor, "The Nightmare of Romantic Idealism"
  24. Carson, "Bringing the Author Forward"
  25. Cavaliero, "Watchers on the Threshold"
  26. Claridge, "Parent-Child Tensions in Frankenstein"
  27. Clayton, "Concealed Circuits"
  28. Clemit, "Frankenstein, Mary Shelley's Myth-Making"
  29. Clifford, "Caleb Williams and Frankenstein"
  30. Clubbe, "The Tempest-Toss'd Summer of 1816"
  31. Conger, "A German Ancestor for Shelley's Monster"
  32. Cottom, "Frankenstein and the Monster of Representation"
  33. Covi, "The Matrushka Monster"
  34. Crawford, "Wading Through Slaughter"
  35. Crisman, "Now Misery Has Come Home"
  36. Crossley, "Artefacts from the Museums of Science Fiction"
  37. Crouch, "Davy's Discourse"
  38. Curran, "The Siege of Hateful Contraries"
  39. Curran, "The Scientific Grounding of Frankenstein"
  40. Davis, "Frankenstein and the Subversion of the Masculine Voice"
  41. Dickerson, "The Ghost of a Self"
  42. Dunn, "Narrative Distance in Frankenstein"
  43. Dutoit, "Re-specting the Face as the Moral (of) Fiction"
  44. Eichler, "Frankenstein and the Rocky Horror Picture Show"
  45. Ellis, "Mary Shelley's Embattled Garden"
  46. Ellis, "Monsters in the Garden"
  47. Favret, "The Letters of Frankenstein"
  48. Ferguson, "The Gothicism of the Gothic Novel"
  49. Fleck, "Mary Shelley's Notes to Shelley's Poems"
  50. Forry, "An Early Conflict Involving Presumption"
  51. Forry, "Dramatizations of Frankenstein"
  52. Foust, "Monstrous Image"
  53. Freeman, "Frankenstein with Kant"
  54. Friedman, "The Blasted Tree"
  55. Gardner, "Mary Shelley's Divine Tragedy"
  56. Gilbert and Gubar, "Horror's Twin"
  57. Goldberg, "Moral and Myth"
  58. Goodwin, "Domesticity and Uncanny Kitsch"
  59. Griffin, "Fire and Ice in Frankenstein"
  60. Gross and Gross, "Joseph Grimaldi: An Influence"
  61. Haggerty, "Frankenstein and the Unnameable"
  62. Hall, "Horrifying Otherness of Family"
  63. Harvey, "Frankenstein and Caleb Williams"
  64. Heffernan, "Looking at the Monster"
  65. Hetherington, "Creator and Created in Mary Shelley's Frankenstein"
  66. Higdon, "Frankenstein as Founding Myth in The Far Side"
  67. Hill, "Frankenstein and the Physiognomy of Desire"
  68. Hill-Miller, "My Hideous Progeny"
  69. Hindle, "Vital Matters"
  70. Hobbs, "Reading the Symptoms"
  71. Hodges, "Feminine Subversion of the Novel"
  72. Hoehn, "The First Season of Presumption!"
  73. Hogle, "Frankenstein as Neo-Gothic"
  74. Hogle, "Otherness in Frankenstein"
  75. Homans, "Bearing Demons"
  76. Hume, "Gothic Versus Romantic"
  77. Isaacs, "Creation and Responsibility in Science"
  78. Jackson, "Narcissism and Beyond"
  79. Jacobus, "Is There a Woman in This Text?"
  80. Johnson, "My Monster/My Self"
  81. Keech, "The Survival of the Gothic Response"
  82. Kestner, "Narcissism as Symptom and Structure"
  83. Ketterer, "Metaphoric Matrix"
  84. Ketterer, "The Corrected Frankenstein"
  85. Keyishian, "Vindictiveness and the Search for Glory"
  86. Kiceluk, "Made in His Image: Frankenstein's Daughters"
  87. Kiely, "Frankenstein"
  88. Kincaid, "Words Cannot Express"
  89. Knoepflmacher, "Aggression of Daughters"
  90. Kroeber, "Science Fiction vs. Fantasy"
  91. Lamb, "Frankenstein and Milton's Monstrous Myth"
  92. Leader, "Parenting Frankenstein"
  93. Levine, "The Ambiguous Heritage of Frankenstein"
  94. Levine, "The Pattern"
  95. Levine, "The Tradition of Realism"
  96. Lew, "The Deceptive Other"
  97. Lewis, "Frankenstein and Owen Warland"
  98. London, "The Spectacle of Masculinity"
  99. Lovell, "Byron and Mary Shelley"
  100. Loveridge, "Another Monster in Frankenstein?"
  101. Lowe-Evans, "The Civil Servant"
  102. Lowe-Evans, "Minor Rites"
  103. Malamud, "The Gothic Voice in The Waste Land"
  104. Malchow, "Frankenstein's Monster and Images of Race"
  105. Manson and Stewart, "Frankenstein and Failed Unity"
  106. Marder, "The Mother Tongue"
  107. Margolis, "Lost Baggage"
  108. Marshall, "Frankenstein and the 1832 Anatomy Act"
  109. Marshall, "Frankenstein, or Rousseau's Monster"
  110. Massey, "Singles and Doubles"
  111. May, "Sibling Revelry"
  112. Mays, "Frankenstein, Mary Shelley's Black Theodicy"
  113. McInerney, "The Godlike Science of Letters"
  114. McInerney, "Satanic Conceits"
  115. McLane, "Literate Species"
  116. McLeod, "Frankenstein: Unbound and Otherwise"
  117. McWhir, "Teaching The Monster To Read"
  118. Mellor, "A Feminist Critique of Science"
  119. Mellor, "A Feminist Critique of Science, II"
  120. Mellor, "Making a Monster"
  121. Mellor, "My Hideous Progeny"
  122. Mellor, "Promethean Politics"
  123. Mellor, "Usurping the Female"
  124. Mellor, "Problems of Perception"
  125. Mellor, "Revising Frankenstein"
  126. Michie, "Frankenstein and Marx's Theories"
  127. Miller, "The Being and Becoming of Frankenstein"
  128. Mishra, "Sublime as Desecration/Decreation"
  129. Moers, "Female Gothic"
  130. Moretti, "The Dialectic of Fear"
  131. Morse, "The Transposition of Gothic"
  132. Murray, "Changes in the 1823 Edition"
  133. Murray, "Shelley's Contribution to Frankenstein"
  134. Musselwhite, "The Making of a Monster"
  135. Neff, "Frankenstein and the Empire of the Nairs"
  136. Neff, "Hostages to Empire"
  137. Newman, "Mary and the Monster"
  138. Newman, "Narratives of Seduction"
  139. Nichols, "The Acting of Thomas Potter Cooke"
  140. Novak, "Gothic Fiction and the Grotesque"
  141. Oates, "Frankenstein's Fallen Angel
  142. O'Flinn, "Production and Reproduction"
  143. O'Rourke, "Nothing More Unnatural"
  144. Paulson, "Gothic Fiction and the French Revolution"
  145. Pike, "Resurrection of the Fetish"
  146. Ping, "The Majesty of Goodness"
  147. Pitcher, "Fitzgerald's Frankenstein"
  148. Pitcher, "Frankenstein as Short Fiction"
  149. Pollin, "Philosophical and Literary Sources"
  150. Poovey, "My Hideous Progeny"
  151. Randel, "The Intertextuality of Mountains"
  152. Rauch, "The Monstrous Body of Knowledge"
  153. Reed, "Will and Fate in Frankenstein"
  154. Restuccia, "Female Gothic Writing"
  155. Richardson, "From Emile to Frankenstein"
  156. Rieger, "Dr. Polidori and the Genesis of Frankenstein"
  157. Roberts, "The Paradigm of Frankenstein"
  158. Roberts, "Immortality, Gender and the Rosy Cross"
  159. Rose, "Custody Battles"
  160. Ross, "The Limits of Rivalry"
  161. Rowen, "The Making of Frankenstein's Monster"
  162. Rubenstein, "My Accursed Origin"
  163. Ryan, "Mary Shelley's Christian Monster"
  164. Sanderson, "Glutting the Maw of Death"
  165. Sayres, "Compounding the Crime"
  166. Schopf, "Of what a strange nature is knowledge!"
  167. Scott, "Vital Artifice . . . the Psychopolitical Integrity"
  168. Scrivener, "Frankenstein's Ghost Story"
  169. Sedgwick, "Toward the Gothic"
  170. Seed, "Frankenstein -- Parable or Spectacle?"
  171. Shattuck, "Faust and Frankenstein"
  172. Sherwin, "A Psychoaesthetic Reading"
  173. Sherwin, "Creation as Catastrophe"
  174. Slusser, "The Frankenstein Barrier"
  175. Small, "Godwin and Godwinism"
  176. Small, "Shelley and Frankenstein"
  177. Smith, "Horror Versus Tragedy"
  178. Soyka, "Frankenstein and the Miltonic Creation of Evil"
  179. Spector, "Science Fiction and the Sex War"
  180. Spivak, "A Critique of Imperialism"
  181. Stableford, "Frankenstein and the Origins of Science Fiction"
  182. Stein, "Monsters and Madwomen"
  183. Sterrenburg, "Politics and Psyche in Frankenstein"
  184. Stevick, "Frankenstein and Comedy"
  185. Sullivan, "Race, Gender, and Imperial Ideology"
  186. Swingle, "Poets, Novelists, and the Romantic Situation"
  187. Swingle, "Frankenstein's Monster and Its Romantic Relatives"
  188. Tannenbaum, "From Filthy Type to Truth"
  189. Thomas, "Recovering Nightmares"
  190. Tillotson, "A Forced Solitude"
  191. Todd, "Frankenstein's Daughter"
  192. Twitchell, "Frankenstein and the Anatomy of Horror"
  193. Twitchell, "Frankenstein and Sons"
  194. Varnado, "Haunted Presence"
  195. Veeder, "The Negative Oedipus"
  196. Veeder, "Self-Division and Projection"
  197. Wade, "Shelley and the Miltonic Element"
  198. Waxman, "Frankenstein's Romantic Fate"
  199. Weissman, "The Complaint of a Political Wife"
  200. Weissman, "Fiends and Families"
  201. Wexelblatt, "The Ambivalence of Frankenstein"
  202. Willis, "Frankenstein and the Soul"
  203. Wilt, "Frankenstein as Mystery Play"
  204. Winnett, "Coming Unstrung"
  205. Young, "The Monster Within"
  206. Youngquist, "The Mother, the Daughter, and the Monster"
  207. Zdanys, "Rasakolnikov and Frankenstein"
  208. Ziolkowski, "Science, Frankenstein, and Myth"
  209. Zonana, "Safie's Letters as the Feminist Core"
Mary Shelley's novel Frankenstein cannot merely be read as a literary work of the early 19th century. It represents the workings of young Shelley's mind. Further, it represents the vast scientific discoveries of the time, combined with Mary Shelley's intuitive perception of science. She views science as a powerful entity, but also recognizes the dangers if uncontrolled. Shelley demonstrates this fear in the book as science drives Victor Frankenstein to create his monster. In the end, it is also his use of science that inevitably becomes his demise.

Mary Shelley's life experiences are blatantly displayed in her writing of Frankenstein. Her use of science in the book directly relates to the many discoveries of the 17th, 18th, and 19th centuries, specifically the discovery of the nature of electricity. For example, Benjamin Franklin was a well-known scientist who studied the scientific properties of electricity in the 1700's. He not only performed the infamous experiment with the kite and lightning, but also studied the possible medical benefits of electricity. Mary Shelley's Frankenstein is undoubtedly a product of his research of this crucial aspect in the book, electricity.

In Frankenstein, electricity serves as the very tool which creates life -- creates the monster. It gives life to the lifeless. Early medical experiments demonstrated this phenomenon as a dead frog leg jolted with the injection of electricity, serving as a bridge between electricity and biology and chemistry. This bridge, along with his study of out-dated scientific works, leads Victor Frankenstein to fantasize about the possibilities of creating life using the power of electricity and the body of a once living man. In actuality, regenerating life becomes his obsession. After much research and studying, Victor tells us this, "I succeeded in discovering the cause of generation and life; nay, more, I became myself capable of bestowing animation up on lifeless matter." Victor Frankenstein recognizes the power he holds with his knowledge, and even considers the dangers. He says, "When I found so astonishing a power placed within my hands, I hesitated a long time concerning the manner in which I should employ it." This acknowledgment of the danger is significant as it displays Victor's conscious � and his willingness to disregard it, or his inability to obey it.

It is Frankenstein's discovery of creating life that introduces the duality of science, of electricity, of even Victor Frankenstein himself. Scientific experiments are performed for a purpose, yet a reverse, commonly negative, affect is nearly always introduced. Just as science can end up creating dual reactions, electricity holds this same power. Electricity holds the power of magnetism -- the negative and positive forces pulling away from each other. This example of electricity's duality can be applied to many aspects of Frankenstein, including good versus evil, and even to Dr. Victor Frankenstein himself. He understands the power he possesses; yet he acts anyway. He has all the control and the knowledge in the beginning, but is left powerless in the end. Victor creates life because of his own greed, and the monster haunts him to the end because of it. The very monster to which he gives life strives to deprive Victor of his own.

One may also view the duality of Victor Frankenstein and his monster as an even greater force. Frankenstein and his creation may even represent one being -- two sides of a single entity forming a doppelganger relationship. However, it is difficult to decipher which represent good and which represents evil -- the man or the monster. One would initially assume the monster is the evil, yet it is Dr. Frankenstein who creates the monster and then hides from the responsibility. His cowardice not only leads to the death of his younger brother, but also to that of the young girl accused of his murder. The monster, in fact, has moments of great intellect and rationality. He even acts as somewhat of a conscious of Frankenstein's. Because of Victor's selfish and evil actions, the monster haunts him endlessly. Inevitably, Victor ends up in a hellish, barren wasteland being chased by his own creation. As written before, electricity holds the power of magnetism, or a driving force. The early studies of magnetism were directly related to astrology and unknown forces on people. This study does not seem entirely unrelated to Frankenstein. First of all, Dr. Victor Frankenstein feels uncontrollably compelled to create animation in the lifeless body. He can see the devastation his creation will cause in the future to him, yet he does it anyway. It is as if he is fated to create the monster. This lack of control may come both from the evil inside him, as well as outer forces of the world. Victor Frankenstein seems to be a tragically flawed character.

It is important to consider Victor Frankenstein's duality and magnetism in today's perception of Frankenstein. Because the man and the monster seem to be two halves of one being held together by magnetism, modern day has confused the two. Dr. Frankenstein has become merely "the mad scientist" while his monster has become Frankenstein. It is likely not coincidental that a monster would be given the name Frankenstein -- the name of a man who caused such uncontrolled destruction. This is again the doppelganger relationship of Frankenstein and his unnamed monster showing itself in the novel.

Mary Shelley's perceptions of science and the dangerous power it potentially holds are intuitive. Modern day science deals daily with the exact issues of which Shelley was apparently keenly aware. She introduces ethics to the study of science, even gives science a conscious. As the monster acts on Frankenstein's conscious, some would say that Mary Shelley writes literature to act as science's conscious. It was as if she acknowledged that the future of science, if uncontrolled, could be disastrous. The book serves to warn readers, both past and current, of our own powers. It was almost as if Mary Shelley in 1818 could see nearly 200 years into the future, recognizing that our scientific discoveries of nuclear weapons and cloning could eventually be our demise.