DIG 340

It’s a Man’s World

When reading the London article, I really latched onto the section that discussed the painting and sculpture of Mary and Percy Shelley. ┬áThe feminist in me was angered when I saw that Mary was barely even noticeable in the painting of her husband’s death. Although the focus does not have to be on her, why is she pushed off to the side while Percy’s poet counterparts are the ones we focus on. At the same time, the sculpture also makes Mary seem almost insignificant. She is holding the corpse of her dying husband, but all we can focus on is his body. The male is at the center of the audience’s attention. This concept is translated into Mary’s life as a writer as well. Although she writes a magnificent scary story, Percy, at the time, was the only one gaining any recognition and esteem from his works. In a world controlled by men, she is seen as lesser than her husband and all of his accomplishments.

Mary’s story of Frankenstein turns that notion of male dominance on its head. She shows that a man can be as hysterical as a woman (even though that was a stereotype in its time) and that man is not perfect and has the power to create something monstrous and out of his control. When the female members of the family die (the only strong nurturing characters in the novel), Frankenstein is left in shambles and goes insane basically. Mary shows that men are just as prone to hysteria and weakness as females. However, this might just be a feminist reading on Frankenstein.

1 thought on “It’s a Man’s World

  1. It’s interesting that you mention that male hysteria was common for the time period. I think an important caveat though was that “hysteria was frequently read… as a sign of privilege and superiority,” indicating that class plays a role in the ability to be a spectacle. Whereas women are considered to be inherently hysterical, men are only afforded that quality if they’re socioeconomically well off. And even then, this male spectacle is framed in an attractive light, that if a man acted in that way, he came from a high social standing.

    What’s rather paradoxical is this idea that if rich men can be hysterical, then poor men can’t, but women are hysterical regardless of class: rich men can complain because things aren’t going their way; poor men can’t complain because could be worse; and women complain because that’s how women are.

    It’s also important to highlight that the novel does not have any representation of individuals from lower classes (other than the creature). All of the characters are well off. In the case of the DeLacey’s, they were originally well off, which somewhat explain’s Felix’s hysterical reaction to the creature.

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