Masculinity In Mary Shelley's Frankenstein

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As one of the Founding Fathers of the United States of America, Benjamin Franklin is a self-made man. According to Franklin he had come to be by, “Having emerged from the poverty and obscurity in which I was born and bred, to a state of affluence and some degree of reputation in the world” (1). The first page of his autobiography reads as a patriarchal lecture with condescending undertones towards those who have not had the ability to rise to a state of affluence and obtain reputation. While seeing himself as an influence, Franklin’s style is didactic as he believes posterity can learn from his words: “my posterity may like to know, as they may find some of them suitable to their own situations, and therefore fit to be imitated”…show more content…
When a character ignores a social prohibition, he will be punished for his transgression. Shelley is cautioning readers against engineering life for personal gain and the pursuit of fatal curiosity. While Franklin uses his affluence and ideas to exercise authority, Shelley gives one of her male narrators control through sovereignty and a lack of female characters. In this epistolary novel, Victor Frankenstein takes the ultimate embodiment of arrogance and masculinity. In this capacity, he seeks to accomplish that which only a higher power has accomplished before him; he wishes to become greater than nature and teach others how to do so: “Learn from me, if not by my precepts, at least by my example” (Shelley 53). Like Franklin, he attempts to explain his value to others. He justifies, “And how much happier that man is who believes his native town to be the world, than he who aspires to become greater than his nature will allow” (Shelley 53). Through this narratorial voice, Shelley reveals a critical component of gender as Frankenstein is speaking of males and not females; this male is under the impression that he can become greater than the natural world. He continues similar patterns of viewing men as autocratic throughout the text, “Oh! be men, or be more than men. Be steady to your purposes, and firm as a rock…Do not return to your families with the stigma of disgrace marked on your brows. Return, as heroes who have fought and conquered” (Shelley 215). While it may be typical in the English language to use the male pronoun ‘he’ as a substitute for those of both genders, Victor Frankenstein is not intending to refer to both. His use of the male form in his quest for power is a deliberate act of disregarding the female

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