Title of Abstract

Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein: A Gothic Myth of Motherhood

Session Title

Humanities: Real Life and Literature

Faculty Mentor

Amanda Hiner, Ph.D.; hinera@winthrop.edu

College

College of Arts and Sciences

Department

English

Faculty Mentor

Amanda Hiner, Ph.D.

Abstract

Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein has been repeatedly interpreted as a science fiction work, a Gothic tale of Faustian overreach, and as a feminist critique of male environmental domination; however an even more compelling area of research is how the text relates to the female experience, especially to the fears women have regarding motherhood. Though scholars like Anne K. Mellor and Ellen Moers have explored this interpretation in their seminal works, few have fully addressed how the horror of the Gothic, the female experience, and Mary Shelley’s roles as a mother and daughter relate to one another in their discussions. Thus, in this thesis I discuss how Shelley’s fears of abandonment and parental failure, the controlling perspective of motherhood in the text, and the literary conventions of the Gothic form work together as a vehicle to articulate transgressive topics and express women’s worst fears regarding child rearing and domestic maintenance. A key focus in my analysis is how Frankenstein takes on the form of a universal myth of female horror through its Gothic elements. Such a reading, I argue, can revolutionize our understanding of Frankenstein and its place in the realm of literature, specifically in how the female experience is explicitly addressed and featured in the text in an open way due to its Gothic form.

Additional Fields About Your Abstract

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Honors Thesis Committee

Amanda Hiner, Ph.D.; Michael Lipscomb, Ph.D.; Josephine Koster, Ph. D.; Casey Cothran, Ph.D.

Honors Thesis Committee

Amanda Hiner, Ph.D.; Michael Lipscomb, Ph.D.; Josephine Koster, Ph. D.; Casey Cothran, Ph.D.

Course Assignment

HONR 450H - Cothran & HONR 451H - Lipscomb

Start Date

16-4-2021 12:00 PM

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Apr 16th, 12:00 PM

Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein: A Gothic Myth of Motherhood

Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein has been repeatedly interpreted as a science fiction work, a Gothic tale of Faustian overreach, and as a feminist critique of male environmental domination; however an even more compelling area of research is how the text relates to the female experience, especially to the fears women have regarding motherhood. Though scholars like Anne K. Mellor and Ellen Moers have explored this interpretation in their seminal works, few have fully addressed how the horror of the Gothic, the female experience, and Mary Shelley’s roles as a mother and daughter relate to one another in their discussions. Thus, in this thesis I discuss how Shelley’s fears of abandonment and parental failure, the controlling perspective of motherhood in the text, and the literary conventions of the Gothic form work together as a vehicle to articulate transgressive topics and express women’s worst fears regarding child rearing and domestic maintenance. A key focus in my analysis is how Frankenstein takes on the form of a universal myth of female horror through its Gothic elements. Such a reading, I argue, can revolutionize our understanding of Frankenstein and its place in the realm of literature, specifically in how the female experience is explicitly addressed and featured in the text in an open way due to its Gothic form.