Event Title

Women’s Reproduction and Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein

Faculty Advisor

Molly Robey

Graduation Year

2023

Location

Room E103, Center for Natural Sciences, Illinois Wesleyan University

Start Date

4-4-2020 11:45 AM

End Date

4-4-2020 12:00 PM

Description

Mary Shelley lived her life surrounded by men and made man the main focus of her famous horror story. However, the scariest thing in this ‘ghost story’ is a man’s involvement and responsibility when it comes to reproduction. In my essay, I argue that this novel may be read as a commentary on how women are expected to reproduce and then made solely responsible for anything that goes wrong with the child, before, during, or after birth. My research shows that Shelley had a complex relationship to childbirth. Her own mother died soon after giving birth to Shelley, and Shelley experienced trauma with the loss of her first child, and she wrote Frankenstein after the birth of her son William. Shelley used the novel to convey her own emotions of fear, guilt, terror, and responsibility onto her characters. She had her male protagonist Victor Frankenstein experience the pressures and expectations of reproduction. I bring together biographical and feminist scholarship on Frankenstein to show how Mary Shelley represents her feelings about childbirth and men’s relationship to childbirth in the novel.

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Apr 4th, 11:45 AM Apr 4th, 12:00 PM

Women’s Reproduction and Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein

Room E103, Center for Natural Sciences, Illinois Wesleyan University

Mary Shelley lived her life surrounded by men and made man the main focus of her famous horror story. However, the scariest thing in this ‘ghost story’ is a man’s involvement and responsibility when it comes to reproduction. In my essay, I argue that this novel may be read as a commentary on how women are expected to reproduce and then made solely responsible for anything that goes wrong with the child, before, during, or after birth. My research shows that Shelley had a complex relationship to childbirth. Her own mother died soon after giving birth to Shelley, and Shelley experienced trauma with the loss of her first child, and she wrote Frankenstein after the birth of her son William. Shelley used the novel to convey her own emotions of fear, guilt, terror, and responsibility onto her characters. She had her male protagonist Victor Frankenstein experience the pressures and expectations of reproduction. I bring together biographical and feminist scholarship on Frankenstein to show how Mary Shelley represents her feelings about childbirth and men’s relationship to childbirth in the novel.