Mary Shelley, Frankenstein and slavery
in Dangerous bodies
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Chapter 2 investigates the corrupting and corrosive effects of slavery. An association already exists between slavery and the rise of Gothic fiction through the West Indian connections of the major Gothic writers, Horace Walpole, William Beckford and Matthew Lewis. Mary Shelley’s new creation myth in Frankenstein draws not just on Prometheus and Adam but also, it will be argued, on the topical issue of the enslaved and the reluctance of many abolitionists to support the cause of immediate emancipation. Within this reading of Frankenstein as an allegory of slavery, the monster is considered as a demonised version of miscegenation and the fate of his female companion related to fears generated by rebel female slaves. Her resurrection in Whale’s Bride of Frankenstein (1935) demonstrates how surgery can be used for sexual purposes in creating a female creature, as indicated by the film title.

Dangerous bodies

Historicising the gothic corporeal

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