Character Doubling and Social Critique in the Short Fiction
A. A. Markley
As she had done in Frankenstein, Mary Shelley reworked the gothic dopplegänger motif time and again in her short fiction not only to entertain but also to educate her readers. Focusing on four tales written in the late 1820s and early 1830s, this paper considers how Shelley repeatedly set up a triangle of desire in which an intensely competitive and destructive relationship between men is mitigated or resolved by a female character. A close look at these tales contributes to our understanding of the extent to which Mary Shelley devoted herself to remodelling Gothic modes. More importantly, these tales demonstrate the degree to which her ‘New Gothic’ was intended to contribute to a reconfiguration of traditional gender roles and a revaluation of the domestic affections, particularly in terms of their relevance to the political arena.
divests a person
of their humanity, ‘ as if such person was naturally
dead ’, 3
while Alexandre Kojève equated the slave with a ‘living
In Frankenstein , in which ample use is made of the discourse of
slavery, MaryShelley’s monster, like the slave, embodies the
dead, having been made out of corpses by Victor
Valperga was MaryShelley’s second published novel. Though the idea for it took
root while the Shelleys were living at Marlow in 1817, it was not
published until February 1823, seven months after Percy Shelley’s
death. It by no means took that long to write, however. Having found the
subject of Castruccio, the Tuscan warrior politician who became
embroiled in the
Movies speak mainly to the eyes. Though they started talking in words some seventy years ago, what they say to our ears seldom overpowers or even matches the impact of what they show us. This essay proposes to read one more time the issue of homosexuality in Mary Shelley‘s first novel, Frankenstein. In order to offer a new angle on the homosexual component of Victor Frankenstein‘s relationship with his creature when next teaching this most canonical Romantic novel, this essay considers Shelley‘s work alongside four film adaptations: James Whale‘s 1931 Frankenstein, Whale‘s 1935 The Bride of Frankenstein, Richard O’Briens 1975 The Rocky Horror Picture Show, and Kenneth Branagh‘s 1994 Mary Shelley‘s Frankenstein. These films present their audience with original readings of their source material, readings that can be questioned with regards to their lack of truthfulness to the original works themes and characters.
T WO PRODUCTIONS OF STAGE adaptations of MaryShelley’s Frankenstein emerged in the UK in the spring of 2011, both of which made explicit reference to their liveness in performance. The National Theatre in London production was based upon Nick Dear’s stage adaptation of the novel and was directed by celebrated filmmaker, Danny Boyle. It featured acclaimed popular television and film actors Benedict Cumberbatch and Jonny Lee Miller. As part of its theatrical run, the production was commissioned, on a couple of occasions, to be
Gothic Landscapes and Grotesque Bodies in Mary Shelley‘s The Last Man
In The Last Man, Mary Shelley builds on Edmund Burke‘s aesthetic theory and Ann Radcliffe‘s definition of Gothic terror as elevating and imaginative by projecting sublime terror onto her landscapes. Yet, her characters’ identification with sublime landscapes insufficiently articulates their visceral pain; Shelley also emphasises the horrible, physical dimensions of her characters’ suffering, asserting the primacy of their bodies as sites of their identities and afflictions. The freezing, grotesque horror of disease conflicts with the landscapes elevating sublimity, as the Romantic and Gothic aesthetic categories of terror and horror collide in Shelley‘s efforts to articulate the materiality of her characters’ traumatic experiences.
The Self, the Social Order and the Trouble with Sympathy in the Romantic and Post-Modern Gothic
This essay is about the figure of the double in Romantic and post-modern Gothic literature and film. Most criticism of the double interprets this figure from the perspective of psychoanalysis. In contrast, this essay embeds the double in cultural history. In discussions of eighteenth- and early-nineteenth-century discourses of ‘possessive individualism’, nationalism, and sexuality, this essay contends that the eighteenth century and the Romantic Period became dissatisfied with sympathy: with its inability to unify the social order without dissolving the crucial differences that distinguish one person from another. In response, Gothic literature invented the double to represent an extreme moment when two characters think, act, and feel so much alike that they can no longer be distinguished from each other. The essay offers two examples: Mary Shelley‘s Frankenstein and Ridley Scott‘s Blade Runner.
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.
The Motif of the Fecal Child in Mary Shelley‘s Frankenstein
This essay argues that Victor Frankenstein‘s project, the creature that results from it, and the disgust inspired by the creature in all who behold him, all allude consistently and coherently to the infantile sexual theory of fecal reproduction. The fantasy of fecal reproduction, a widespread feature of male god creation myths, is integral to the structure of patriarchy, but is usually subsumed into the normative family structure in the course of the oedipal crisis and its resolution. Victor Frankenstein‘s violent repudiation of his creature stems from Frankenstein‘s inability - or stubborn refusal - to negotiate the transition between the oral-anal fantasy and the normative genital model. The violent disparagement directed at the creature by all who see him testifies to the social disruption threatened by this unresolved tension between the pre-oedipal economy, based on gift-giving and womb-envy, and the oedipal economy of rivalry, castration anxiety, and patriarchal appropriation.
Victor Frankenstein relates his narrative ‘marking the dates with accuracy’, determined that his improbable story will be believed. Through examining the time references, this essay reveals the extent to which the novel is preoccupied with realism and temporal accuracy and demonstrates why the time scheme of Frankenstein is a problem for critics. The narrative can be charted via a consistent and extensive system of time references provided by the three narrators. At a point near the end, Shelley is momentarily vague. Previous decisions on how to deal with this difficulty are opened up to scrutiny, and a detailed chronology of the 1831 version is proposed. Readings which have based their arguments for political or biographical significance on embedded numerology are reexamined using the new chronology.