Hi all! I have my IOP sometime in February (my teacher hasn't assigned specific dates to us yet) and my proposal is due this Tuesday. The workss that I must choose from are Frankenstein by Mary...

Hi all! I have my IOP sometime in February (my teacher hasn't assigned specific dates to us yet) and my proposal is due this Tuesday. The workss that I must choose from are Frankenstein by Mary Shelley, Arcadia by Tom Stoppard, and Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese.

I'm leaning more towards Frankenstein and Cutting for Stone, and one of my ideas was to analyze the women roles in Frankenstein (like how they are portrayed as passive and their main role is for the advancement of men in the novel) and maybe doing some slam poetry or a monologue in the persona of three of the women.

Any suggestions or better topics would be much appreciated, thanks!

3 Answers | Add Yours

billdelaney's profile pic

William Delaney | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

It seems to me that the best way to deal with the role of women in Mary Shelley's Frankenstein would not be to say that women are victimized but that a man, Victor Frankenstein, is horribly and deservedly punished for trying to do something that only women can do, which is to create human life. That, I believe, is the feminist message of the novel. When a man tries to create human life he ends up creating a monster. The Monster is motivated by hatred and vengeance because he has never known a mother's love. Victor Frankenstein seems to understand his mistake and his guilt, but he feels responsible for destroying the Monster because he was the one who created him. There is a very strong feminist message to be read into this novel. Scientists today, no doubt mostly men, are actually in the process of trying to create life. Not human life, yet--but if they succeed in creating life at the lowest level, they would probably go on to evolving higher forms. In Aldous Huxley's Brave New World, babies were not being born in women's wombs but in bottles. This novel was intended as a warning. Mary Shelley's Frankenstein can be interpreted as the same kind of warning against blind and reckless experimentation with nature. Women have been doing a perfectly good job of creating and nurturing babies for millions of years; they don't need men trying to take over their role.

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mwestwood's profile pic

mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

Here is a different suggestion as the analysis of the roles of women is becoming a bit worn:

Perhaps, then, a comparison of the modern play by Tom Stoppard, Arcadia, with Shelley's Frankenstein may propose an interesting perspective upon the arguments of science and emotion, those of the Romantic period which followed the Enlightenment. Certainly, Shelley's novel presents the argument for Romanticism with its emphasis upon feeling, intuition, and emotion with the character of Henry Clerval as a foil to the scientist, Victor Frankenstein, and as Victor's rigid adherence to science costs him his members of his family and his good friend, as well as his dear and innocent fiancée. 

This conflict of emotion versus intellect is quickly introduced into the modern play of Tom Stoppard. For, as she is introduced in the first act, Thomasina seeks to use the scientific knowledge of her time and elaborate upon it in order to encompass real life:

Each week I plot your equations dot for dot, xs against ys in all manner of algebraical relation, and every week they draw themselves as commonplace geometry, as if the world of forms were nothing but arcs and angles. God's truth, Septimus, if there is an equation for a curve like a bell, there must be an equation for one like a bluebell, and if a bluebell, why not a rose?

By "rose" Thomasina implies love and physical relationships. Her thinking, then, is not unlike that of Victor Frankenstein, who is convinced that he can generate life scientifically. Further, Victor certainly demonstrates a tortured conflict with emotion and science as he insists upon maintaining his scientific secret to the detriment and loss of family and friends.

Further in the more modern setting of this play, Hannah Jarvis, who puts up a resistance to carnal knowledge, acts as the voice of reason as she conducts her research, rejecting Bernard's proposal that Lord Byron killed himself out of love. So, too, does Victor Frankenstein choose scientific knowledge over carnal knowledge and emotion--"Natural science is the genius that has regulated my fate." For, he refuses to form a female creature for his monster, rationalizing that this would create two such abominable creatures, instead of recognizing the the creature might be content with a companion and discontinue his murderous path. Of course, Victor is forced later to sacrifice himself in his exigent path into the inquiries of science.

Try though she may, Hannah Jarvis of Stoppard's play finds that she cannot reject the love of Gus Coverly, the mute and, significantly, the communicator between past and present, who convinces her of her need for carnal knowledge as well. Certainly, then both Arcadia and Frankenstein are concerned with the pursuit of knowledge and emotion and what it is that defines us as human. 

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swagyoldman's profile pic

swagyoldman | eNotes Newbie

Posted on

Sorry to say but I don't like it much, maybe scratch the whole Frankenstein idea and make a puppet show based off the popular show switched at birth that would sure draw the attention of the crowd, you welcome!

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