Mary Shelley‘s Frankenstein
Jessie Givner

This essay examines the Gothic trope of monstrosity in a range of literary and historical works, from writings on the French Revolution to Mary Shelleys Frankenstein to Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. I argue that, in the various versions of the Frankenstein myth, what has ultimately come to seem most monstrous is the uncanny coupling of literary and political discourse. Beginning with Jacobin and anti-Jacobin discourse, this essay traces the tendency of literary tropes to turn into political tropes. In Frankenstein and in the Victorian rewritings of Shelley‘s novel, the trope of monstrosity functions, with remarkable consistency, as a mechanism which enables the unstable and often revolutionary turns between aesthetic and ideological discourse. Because the trope of monstrosity at the heart of Frankenstein exists on the border between literary and political discourse that trope has emerged as one of the most crucial forces in current critical theoretical debates about the relationship between aesthetics and ideology.

Gothic Studies