Frankenthesis

10 Mar

I’ve decided that if I’m posting about literature, I might as well divulge a bit of information concerning my thesis topic. Drum roll please–familial images in Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. Ok, so it’s half a topic really. My plan is to focus on Shelley’s portayal (and therefore commentary) on bourgeois family interaction.

I know that there is this whole philosophical undertone in addition to a million references to Paradise Lost and famous Romantic poets from the time period (mind you Romantic with a capital R); however, I, a glutton for torture, must choose a “strange” topic. At first, my thesis professor had no idea what I was talking about. Somehow through mainstream portrayals of this work, we lose the other ideas that darling Mary Shelley was trying to get across.  It’s not just about some freakish green monster and his crazed creator; it’s about life, family, morality, gender roles, class differences…I can go on for a while here so I’ll just spare you.  In short, I want to discuss the people in the background and the culminating factors involved in this story.

A depiction of Frankenstein's author, Mary Shelley (courtesy of standford.edu).

One thing I’ve been battling with in regards to this topic is that most people claim they have read this work in high school. In my opinion, it’s one of those works that people read just to get through it in secondary school, to pass the quizzes and tests, and therefore never truly understand it. When asking a few friends of mine who said they covered this novel in high school, the usual answer boasted that each student “fully” understood the text. Not to insult anyone’s intelligence, but I highly doubt that. With all of the allusions to other texts that I am still unfolding, I highly doubt that a sixteen-year-old would pick up on these, fully comprehending the Coleridge albatross references or even the idea of a modern Prometheus.

Overall, I just think this text is highly over-looked in the world of literature. It seems to have become cliche like so many great works, and I just hope other readers can see in this novel what I’ve come to appreciate.

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