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MissArcher2's picture

Born of woman?

 I completely agree with tangerines' reading of Frankenstein as an exposition of the "hardship, loneliness, and sense of abandonment" surrounding motherhood and childbearing. It's definitely relevant that childbearing was both routinely life-endangering and a woman's only option which, once she married, she had no control over. But I want to try to bridge the gap between this view and spreston's reading, which sees Frankenstein as a warning against creating life in an atypical manner. 

In first reading the excerpt of Juliann Reardon's post, my mind jumped immediately to Macbeth, in which it is said that no man born of woman can harm Macbeth. Since all men are born of women, Macbeth assumes that he's invincible, with ultimately leads to his downfall when a man delivered by Caesarean section (and thus not "born of woman") kills him. Here, as in Frankenstein, we see the consequences of reproductive technologies perceived as unnatural. This would seem to reinforce traditional notions of gender, as spreston suggests, if anything other than natural, traditional childbirth leads to unforeseen consequences. But I don't think recognizing that Frankenstein is about the importance of natural motherhood precludes the novel from also being about the struggles and hardships mothers and children often faced, as Shelley did herself. What she wanted most was to successfully bear and raise healthy children, thus placing great importance on natural childbearing processes, but that was also what she perceived to be her greatest failure, and so the concept was surrounded by heartbreak and dissociation from society for her. 

One thing is clear: Frankenstein was an intensely personal novel for Mary Shelley and any thread we try to follow from the novel will be magnified in Shelley's personal life. 


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