Examine the stereotyping of homosexuality in the movie Gods and Monsters to that of Frankenstein.

Expert Answers
Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In both works, homosexuality is not openly embraced.  Rather, it is something to be concealed, and provokes a variety of complex and often conflicting emotions. In accepting the premise of homosexuality in Shelley's work, one must examine how Victor himself is a stereotype of the homosexual male.  He lives alone, essentially incapable of fostering emotional contact with another.  One potential reason for this is because of his own sexuality, something that he cannot openly articulate or embrace.  He finds work to be the one sanctuary, a retreat from a father declaring his leanings as "sad trash:" 

I opened it with apathy; the theory which he attempts to demonstrate and the wonderful facts which he relates soon changed this feeling into enthusiasm. A new light seemed to dawn upon my mind, and bounding with joy, I communicated my discovery to my father. My father looked carelessly at the title page of my book and said, "Ah! Cornelius Agrippa! My dear Victor, do not waste your time upon this; it is sad trash.

Victor pours his energies into his work and his studies, another reflection of the stereotypical notion of homosexuality. It is here in which Victor can find validation, something that he is unable to find on an emotional level, in part due to his homosexuality.

These stereotypes can be seen in Gods and Monsters. Whale is unable to find any real emotional release from the discomfort that his sexuality causes to him.  He pours his effort into his work- his films and his drawings. Presumably, his art provides a release and a sanctuary from the pain that he experiences with his sexuality.  Like Victor, Whale is able to find a domain in work where some happiness is present:  "Making movies is the most wonderful thing in the world. Working with friends - entertaining people - yes, I suppose I miss it."  Part of the pain that Whale endures is when he is no longer able to make films, the realm in which some fleeting sense of happiness was evident.  

Another stereotype of homosexuality that both films offer is that the homosexual person who is not fully understood by society must run away.  Victor runs away when confronted with the creature.  Victor cannot afford to stay and establish a connection with the creature.  The force of Victor's intense emotions cause him to abandon the creature, fulfilling the stereotype that people who are homosexual struggle with the force of their being in the world.  The monster explains this process of Victor fleeing:

I sickened as I read. `Hateful day when I received life!' I exclaimed in agony. `Accursed creator! Why did you form a monster so hideous that even YOU turned from me in disgust? God, in pity, made man beautiful and alluring, after his own image; but my form is a filthy type of yours, more horrid even from the very resemblance. Satan had his companions, fellow devils, to admire and encourage him, but I am solitary and abhorred.

Victor running away reflects a stereotypical notion of homosexuality causing the individual to flee from a reality too challenging to face.  Similarly, Whale's suicide after a rebuke from Boone in making a sexual advance is another form of running away.  Whale is unable to face the reality of rejection, in which suicide is a form of flight from a reality too difficult to face.  Whale's suicide is flight, similar to Victor's.  In both settings, the stereotype of homosexuality rendering individuals incapable of confronting truth is evident.

mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

It may be worth noting that in the Romantic period, that time in which Frankenstein was written, friendship between two men was highly revered as it was purely spiritual since it did NOT involve any sexuality as the relationships between men and women. Because it was such a union of minds and spirits, the Romantics felt that this male friendship was the highest form of love. 

Thus, it is a worrisome commentary on contemporary times that every relationship is either consciously or unconsciously measured in physical terms. That Mary Shelley exalted this male friendship is much more certain than that she described another relationship which would have been considered unmentionable in her time. Close friendships among men were quite common in the nineteenth century, partly because women were not allowed to go many of the places where men could and partly because men had much more in common with one another than they did women who existed solely in the domestic world.

Read the study guide:

Access hundreds of thousands of answers with a free trial.

Start Free Trial
Ask a Question