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Scholarly essays on frankenstein

scholarly essays on frankenstein

Science Fiction Studies

Description: Science Fiction Studies is a refereed scholarly journal devoted to the study of the genre of science fiction, broadly defined. It publishes articles about science fiction and book reviews on science fiction criticism; it does not publish fiction. SFS is widely considered to be the premier academic journal in its field, with strong theoretical, historical, and international coverage. Roughly one-third of its issues to date have been special issues, with recent topics including Technoculture and Science Fiction, Afrofuturism, Latin American Science Fiction, and Animal Studies and Science Fiction. Founded in 1973, SFS is based at DePauw University and appears three times per year in March, July, and November.

Coverage: 1973-2017 (Vol. 1, No. 1 - Vol. 44, No. 1)

Moving Wall Moving Wall: 3 years (What is the moving wall?)
Moving Wall

The "moving wall" represents the time period between the last issue available in JSTOR and the most recently published issue of a journal. Moving walls are generally represented in years. In rare instances, a publisher has elected to have a "zero" moving wall, so their current issues are available in JSTOR shortly after publication.
Note: In calculating the moving wall, the current year is not counted.
For example, if the current year is 2008 and a journal has a 5 year moving wall, articles from the year 2002 are available.

Terms Related to the Moving Wall Fixed walls: Journals with no new volumes being added to the archive. Absorbed: Journals that are combined with another title. Complete: Journals that are no longer published or that have been combined with another title.

ISSN: 00917729

EISSN: 23276207

Subjects: Language & Literature, Humanities

Collections: Language & Literature Discipline Package, Arts & Sciences V Collection

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Scholarly essays on frankenstein - SPX FCU

scholarly essays on frankenstein Frankenstein Sample Essay Outlines - eNotes.com

scholarly essays on frankenstein Frankenstein Sample Essay Outlines - eNotes.com

Frankenstein author Mary Shelley (detail of a painting by Richard Rothwell)

Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein is obsessed with monsters, but not the kind of monsters you might first think.

The ‘Creature’ that the Swiss scientist Victor Frankenstein sews together out of body-parts robbed from graves, and brings alive in a feat of imagination, love, and electricity, has not been treated very well by history. Many modern depictions (and especially those for children) show a grunting, comical, zombie figure, staggering about with his arms stuck in front of him, visible stitching scarring his face and form — a far cry from the Creature in Shelley’s story, who (though capable of shocking violence) learns to speak, reads Milton’s Paradise Lost, secretly cares for a family living in poverty, and longs for a mate to share his life with.

It is perhaps surprising, then, given the palpable goodness of her young hero, that Shelley almost immediately directs her reader’s attention to a narrative of crime and punishment.

A scene from the Rime of the Ancient Mariner, from an engraving by Gustav Dore.

Walton declares grandly that ‘I am going to unexplored regions, to the ‘land of mist and snow’, but I shall kill no albatross, therefore do not be alarmed for my safety’, quoting directly from the most popular poem of the generation of writers that preceded Shelley’s: Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s ‘Rime of the Ancient Mariner’. Coleridge’s poem tells the tale of a sailor whose ship has been driven by storms to Antarctica, and who is led to safety by a friendly albatross — but then, almost inexplicably, shoots and kills the beautiful bird. As punishment for his crime, the mariner must wear the dead albatross around his neck, suffer from a terrible thirst for what feels like endless time, and then watch the slow deaths of his entire crew before, eventually, he is saved from the ocean and doomed to wander the earth, driven by guilt, telling his story for the rest of his life.

However by putting her reader in mind of a character whose purpose is to warn: ‘That moment that his face I see / I know the man that must hear me: / To him my tale I teach’, Shelley impresses upon us early that her tale is a cautionary one. What’s more, the sudden appearance of Victor Frankenstein on the ice, and the horrifying story he tells Walton, begin to suggest the terms of the similarity.

Frankenstein is a man meaningfully similar to Walton: they are both drawn to science by way of a love of literature; their enthusiasm for discovery is imagined as a sort of possession; they are both full of noble thoughts and intentions — and visions of glory and renown. In fact, the two are types, examples of the figure of the scientist as the Romantic imagination saw him, suggestive of numerous contemporary real-life figures, and sites for Mary Shelley to explore some of the pressing moral questions that surrounded science and scientists at the time Frankenstein was written.

It was written during what Richard Holmes (in a brilliant book called The Age of Wonder) calls ‘the second scientific revolution’, a period of almost relentless discovery that began at the end of the eighteenth century. English scientists alone made huge leaps: Joseph Banks and his crew discovered thousands of species of plant and animal on the paradise island of Tahiti; William and Caroline Herschel invented the modern telescope; after a series of near-fatal disasters, Humphry Davy discovered the anaesthetic properties of nitrous oxide, which we now know as laughing gas. The discoveries were everywhere attended by a sense of utopianism, perhaps best embodied in William Godwin’s Enquiry Concerning Political Justice (1793), which paints an exuberant picture of man’s gradual empowerment over the natural world through discovery in an appendix ‘Of Health, and the Prolongation of Human Life’. Godwin argues that ‘the power of intellect can be established over all other matter’ and offers a vision of science in the service of the state and mankind: “The term of human life may be prolonged… by the immediate operation of the intellect, beyond any limits which we are able to assign.

Pasteur studied Vitalism.

But this sense of limitless possibility had a gory, and thoroughly sinister, underbelly, a disrespect for humanity and nature to which Frankenstein gestures when he speculates ‘with how many things are we upon the brink of becoming acquainted, if cowardice or carelessness did not restrain our enquiries’. The branch of scientific enquiry in which the Swiss scientist becomes entangled is one around which fierce debate raged at the time of the novel’s composition: that of Vitalism. Around the turn of the nineteenth century, as surgeons and anatomists made paradigm-shifting advances, which enabled them to fight off numerous diseases with previously unimaginable success, scientists in England and on the continent began to question the nature and origin of human life: what exactly was the ‘vital principle’? Where did it come from? And could it be created? Frankenstein recounts to Walton how he became animated by ‘an almost supernatural enthusiasm’ for ‘the structure of the human frame, and indeed, any animal endued with life’.

Now, some of the moral unease, and in fact the almost instinctive revulsion that surrounded the question of Vitalism will be familiar to us from modern experiments in cloning, or stem cell research: the ability to create new life by the rule of our own design, the argument goes, elevates humankind to a godlike position, and endows us with a terrible power, with which it’s not altogether clear we can be trusted. In the nineteenth century, these anxieties would have been compounded by a residual Christian belief that it is blasphemous for man to attempt to rival God’s creation. But the horror many came to feel toward Vitalists’ attempts to recreate life derived from far more than abstract philosophising, or even religion.

The Anatomy Lesson of Dr. Nicolaes Tulp by Rembrandt.

Frankenstein tells Walton how, for his purposes, understanding the theory of anatomy was ‘not sufficient; I must also observe the natural decay and corruption of the human body’.

On the 17th of January 1803, the Italian anatomist Giovanni Aldini attempted to revive the body of a hanged murderer, George Foster, in a public demonstration in which electrical currents were shot through the criminal’s body. The Newgate Calendar describes what happened:

On the first application of the process to the face, the jaws of the deceased criminal began to quiver, and the adjoining muscles were horribly contorted, and one eye was actually opened. In the subsequent part of the process the right hand was raised and clenched, and the legs and thighs were set in motion.

If Mary Shelley did not actually see this demonstration, the scene of the monster’s awakening in Frankenstein suggests that she at least read about it: Frankenstein recounts how, at the point he brought the creature to life: ‘By the glimmer of the half-extinguished light, I saw the dull yellow eye of the creature open; it breathed hard, and a convulsive motion agitated its limbs’.


  1. Juyudumavolu

    As I finish this essay, the words of a friend a colleague keep ringing in my ears: Do we really need another essay on _Frankenstein_?

  2. Fafimeka

    I do - have 4 Macbeth and 4 FrAnkenstein essays - DM me your email and will send themlater.

  3. Hezabojuqorobi

    My Frankenstein essay was on the theme isolation and I couldn"t have been much happier, boiii I"m proud of myself

  4. Sokagacige

    I feel like I did better in my frankenstein essay than my Romeo and Juliet one even tho I was worried about frankenstein the most

  5. Gihohar

    Frankenstein essays for to help structure argument and judgement

  6. Kuconimudef

    Hi - anyone have any exemplar GCSE essays relating to Macbeth or Frankenstein for my very lovely ( and stressed ) daughter to use as revision?

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