“Frankenstein” Critical Analysis

It would not be an exaggeration to suggest that some stories were able to pass the test of time and influenced the development of entire genres. Frankenstein by Mary Shelly is one of those books the plot of which is widely known to the contemporary audience even though it was written several centuries ago. However, critics often insist that the meaning of this novel is much deeper than a mere description of the story of a scientist. Sherry Ginn uses “Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein: Science, Science Fiction, or Autobiography?” to adequately argue that the novel reflects the worldview of young Mary by applying Erikson’s theory of personality development to the text.

To begin with, it may be useful to briefly mention the background of the critic. Sherry Ginn teaches at Rowan-Cabarrus Community College. She has a Ph.D. and her major fields of expertise are History of Science, Biological Psychology, and Media Psychology. She has been involved in several projects, among with “The Fine Arts, Neurology, and Neuroscience” and “Literature, Neurology, and Neuroscience”. She has written numerous articles showing how the findings in neuroscience can help the researchers understand various forms of art.

The thesis of the article that is used for the purposes of this paper may be formulated in the following manner: the plot and the message of Frankenstein reflect the peculiarities of the stage of development at which Mary was when she wrote the novel. The author points out that the critics have already developed several interpretations of the novel: some argue that it is one of the earliest works of science fiction, other, insist that the novel is autobiographical. Ginns agrees that the text does include several features of what will later be known as science fiction and it also includes some elements that were taken from Mary’s own life; however, it is much beneficial to develop a broader understanding of the text. In order to do this, Ginn applies Erikson’s theory of personality development, pointing out that at the time when the text was written Marry was at fifth or sixth stage (it is argued that the conventional order of the stages may be reversed for females).

I agree with the thesis in that sense that it does seem to be more reasonable than anything that has been produced by other critics. Moreover, the author is able to offer a considerable amount of support. To begin with, she identified the elements that might have been taken from Mary’s life directly: a white gravestone, a motherless child, a father abandoning his child, extraordinary experiments, dreams of turning dead creatures into alive ones. However, the authors successfully show that the novel is much more than autobiographical reflection: it represents the conflict that Mary faces as she was aging. In order to support this, Grin points to the aspects of the novel that deal with broad issues, particularly the importance of intimate relations as well as the need to form an identity with their help or lack thereof.

It is rather surprising that back in the nineteenth century the critics were not able to see this kind of depth in the novel. A critique that was published in The Literary Panorama, and National Register argues that the novel was “written in great haste, and on a very crude and ill-digested plan; and the detail is, in consequence, frequently filled with the most gross and obvious inconsistencies”. It is impossible to learn who was the critic who wrote it, but this person was a contemporary of Shelly. The major thesis of the article is simple: the novel must have been written by an untalented author, probably a woman, and, therefore, features all the problems that are associated with lack of talent or being a woman. I can hardly agree with the thesis for a number of reasons. First of all, it seems that the critic was a misogynist: even though one might have simply repeated what was circling in the society, it is not an excuse to argue that women are not able to produce a good work of art. In addition to that, the critic is not able to develop a broad perspective on the novel, paying attention to irrelevant inconsistencies and distorting the aesthetics. For example, one of the disadvantages associated with the novel is that “the story begins at the end”. This can hardly be seen as a disadvantage since many literary works, both in the nineteenth century and today try to keep the attention of the audience by starting with the end of the story, gradually retelling it. Furthermore, one should note that the article is not able to provide any solid support for its outrages claims. Obviously, it points out to some inconsistencies in the text, but they are exaggerated and hardly influence the perception of the narration. So, it is quite understandable that the critic is not able to prove one’s point of view properly.

Having examined all the points that were mentioned in the paragraphs above, one is able to come to the following conclusion: Sherry Ginn in her “Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein: Science, Science Fiction, or Autobiography?” successfully proves that the novel reflects the worldview of young Mary by applying Erikson’s theory of personality development to the text. The author shows that a deeper understanding of the text and how it related to the life of Mary Shelly will shed more light on the value of it and result in the proper perception of it.

Works Cited

Ginn, Sherry. “Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein: Science, Science Fiction, or Autobiography?” University of Florida. N.p., 2003. Web. 07 July 2017. <http://www.clas.ufl.edu/ipsa/2003/ginn.html>.

“The Literary Panorama and National Register.” Romantic Circles. Romantic Circles, 1998. Web. 07 July 2017. <http://www.rc.umd.edu/reference/chronologies/mschronology/reviews/lprev.html>.

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[Accessed: September 29, 2020]

"The terms offer and acceptance." freeessays.club, 17 May 2016

[Accessed: September 29, 2020]

"The terms offer and acceptance." freeessays.club, 17 May 2016

[Accessed: September 29, 2020]