Jack Mary Shelley was in need of motherly

Jack Santore

English Composition I

Richard Hartshorn

“Mary Shelley”



                  Mary Shelley, the daughter of two
infamous literary rebels, William Godwin and Mary Wollstonecraft, was born in
August 1797. Mary Wollstonecraft died soon after the birth of Shelley, thus
sending William Godwin into a downward spiral of grief over the loss of his
life partner, one he had gained such appreciation for (Ty). Godwin dealt with
his grief by reflecting upon Wollstonecraft’s works, and formulating a novel that
set to immortalize his wife.  Shelley’s
birth mother was regarded as a prominent author in the years following her
death, and was a pioneer in identifying gender barriers (Ty). Mary Shelley was
in need of motherly influence. Shelley began to write stories at a young age;
her stories were constituted of a rejection of utopian radicalism, and the
upbringing of abolitionist ideology (Ty). In Mary Shelly’s Frankenstein; or The Modern Prometheus, the formulation of a
subhuman creature pertains to social constructs of the time period. Frankenstein embodies the treatment of
individuals as subhuman, and is deemed as a progressive message that identifies
that this mistreatment of individuals as subhuman will lead to social crisis.
Mary Shelley’s use of detail shows a relationship between the Creature, and its
creator, to help emphasize this underlying meaning.

Mary Shelley sought to write a horror
story that spoke to the “mysterious fears of our nature,” that, “awaken
thrilling horror,” (Shelley 9). The imperative motive in the novel is one of a general
nature of human being; Kiely claims, we derive superiority through the
suffering of others (Kiely 163), and in Frankenstein;
or The Modern Prometheus, she clearly displays a constitute of influence
associated in the creation of the creature by Victor Frankenstein. The
character, Victor Frankenstein, devotes his ambition in the formulation of a
human like creature, after being consumed in the sciences behind human nature (38).
Victor uncovers a knowledge of secrecy regarding the creation of a human like
form, and is absorbed in his work. Through his labors, he is desensitized to
his true persona and life. The meaning of his life is now constituted of the
creation of a human like creature, one that he would soon be his misfortune.
Upon the completion of his works, he gave life to his Creature. Victor abandons
the creature on the foundation of his horrid wretchedness, which was only
subjective by appearance. The Creature supported a beautiful nature of being in
his conscious, but was subjected to subhuman identity, where he was not accepted
– a cursed creation (86-99). The Creature elaborates on his story and influence
to Victor, to deduce a neutral relationship. The Creature explains his
perception of the subjective nature of man and his creator, along with
realizing the peculiar structures of human society.  “I learned that the possession’s most esteemed
by your fellow creatures were high and unsullied descent united with riches. A
man might be respected with only one of these advantages; but without either,
except very rare instances, as a vagabond and slave,” (Shelley 87). The Creature
is treated inadequately due to his appearance. He is unable to identify his
origin, and is consumed by despair and anguish, upon the aggressive questioning
of his creation. The Creature arose in desire of revenge after reading Victor’s
journal, which he had stolen upon his abandonment, of the formulation of the
Creature. In Victor’s journal a statement is made regarding the spark of life
upon the creature, “Hateful day when I received life,” (Shelley 94). This
statement serves as a foundation of the Creature’s desired revenge. The
Creature derives his understanding of human difference from the observations of
the De Laceys, a family that resided in a cottage near the creators dwelling.
The Creature observes a superiority difference between he and the family, and
is subjected to feel the inferiority complex of his appearance (Bugg 659).  In his revenge, he murders the beloved brother
of Victor, William. Victor is ravaged of life’s pleasure and the beings he
beloved due to the formation of a creature that he soon abandoned, on the
foundation of it’s appearance. Victor treats his creature as a subhuman. Victor
does not grant his creature the pleasures of life, or a sense of belonging,
which in turn, revenge him on the questioning of his creation (96-98). The Creature’s
realization of human difference upon the observation of the De Lacey’s is
derived when he interprets his first form of language (659). The Creature is
then aware of the superiority difference between him and the family, and
realizes his subhuman decent of abandonment is consistent with the existence of
his creator. The Creature soon plots his revenge upon his creator, who had
cursed his existence, ensuing in murder. The Creature referred to as such,
never earning the human characteristics of identification, coupled with
abandonment and a crippling inferiority complex, ultimately leads to the murder
of Victor’s brother, exemplifying social crisis.

A description of the Creature’s
appearance correlates with the characteristics of enslavement in the
nineteenth-century Europe. The creature is described as an eight-foot-tall,
monstrosity, with yellow skin, and black hair (45). His appearance highlights a
contrast in skin color, and provides a correlation for how the creature is
observed in society. The relationship that the Creature shares with the De
Laceys is one that regards the family as “superior beings” that ultimately decide
his future (84). Their influence of language upon the creature presumably
initiates his understanding of social constructions and hierarchy, and reveal
his distant difference of appearance. The De Laceys serve as his enslavement to
society as a race of man horridly different, and thus influence him to then
make the realization that he is property himself (559-662). Bugg claims, this
correlates with the social construct of slavery in the sense that a human was
deemed as a property to someone of “superiority” of the particular race (559).
The superior racial influence only pertains to wealth, which determined the
hierarchy of an individual in the nineteenth century (662). The Creature’s
gained knowledge of the social systems that would deem him subhuman, as well as
the relationship between human and master that induce oppression lead to social
crisis. The revenge he exerts into his creator, creates to be a shift in power.
The Creature’s ambition leads him to demand a womanly counterpart, one as “wretched”
as he was. This pursuit for the Creature signifies a shift in power between him
and Victor, one that reduces Victor as a subhuman to his demand. The shift is
power in an underlying tone of social crisis, in that the treatment of
individuals as subhuman, provides the individual with an ideology that will
overthrow the superiority of his creators. Bugg suggests, Victor Frankenstein morphed
into the role of the “slave” at the height of the Creature’s power, and is
confided by a series of demands set forth by the Creature (664). Abolitionist
ideology states that the relationship of slave to master, or master to slave, would
bring defeat to the master in his confinement of morality. Victor is overthrown
into the subhuman subjectivity of slavery from the superiority shift of master
to slave, and is subjected to the exact feelings of which inhabited his
creation (664). This shift in power demonstrates social crisis deduced from the
subjectivity of treating one as subhuman.

Mary Shelley uses a substantial amount of
detail in Frankenstein; or The Modern
Prometheus, to show a relationship of slave to master as a subjectivity
that will lead to social crisis. She intricately describes images that deduce
the underlying motives in the book. Shelley provides a descriptive narrative
relating to the Creature’s tale of upbringing and influence to deduce the
subjective subhuman treatment of a human like form (82-87). A specific image
portrayed through the intricate description of emotion and grief highlights the
sub-humanistic worship of a slave to their master, “I formed in my imagination
a thousand pictures of presenting myself to them, and their reception of me. I
imagined that they would be disgusted, until, by my gentle demeanor and
conciliating words, I should win their favour, and afterwards their love,” (84).
This provides the reader with such a descriptive image of the Creatures worship
toward the De Laceys, who were a figurative example of superiority, that shed a
feeling of anguish onto the Creature. Mary Shelley describes the provoking of
emotion and desire in the Creature, and those superior, to form an underlying
image that constitutes the idea of its subjectivity in the subhuman treatment
of a being.

or the Modern Prometheus has
enlightened me of the vast abnormality of our societal structure. What
particularly interest’s me is its timelessness; the general message conveyed in
this piece contributes to society’s superiority complexes of any time period. I
personally believe that Mary Shelley intended to acclimate to human nature
through its horrors. In her formulation of a science fiction novel, she
uncovers how human motives directly correlates with the subjective nature to
deem one as subhuman. It is applicable to our society today. This subjective
nature of superiority applies to our problematic divisions of race and economic
distribution. Shelley does imply social constructs of the nineteenth century,
but I personally see their relevance in our society today. We still educe man
as diverse, that there are different forms, ethnicities, and social hierarchy.
That we fail to realize is that we are all the same, we are all made up of the
same bodily structures and mental processes that influence us, as humans. No
man should be treated as subhuman; the difference between each being on Earth
is not one to rank, but one to embrace as we are all identically made up of the
same physical composition. Our society still embodies this ideology currently
in our problems associated in racial oppression and gender identification (Columbia
Business School 1).  In Shelley’s novel,
the Creature is not the monster in the end – its Victor Frankenstein. The Creature
does not identify by Frankenstein, but instead as “Creature.” The monster of
the story, is the one centered around the creation of a subhuman entity, the
creator being Victor Frankenstein. This emphasizes that social inequality
should be the downfall of the intellect, and the upbringing of ignorance. Any
foolishness regarding the sovereignty of man on our planet would be the
monstrosity of our existence.

Mary Shelley identifies that the treatment
of an individual as subhuman will lead to social crisis. The relationship
between the Creature and his creator help to exemplify this concept. The Creature
is not granted the human characteristic of identification, which then provokes
an inferiority complex in the Creature based on his wretched appearance and
cursed creation. The Creature is substantially influenced as a slave, subhuman
to society. The characteristics of slavery in the nineteenth century are
portrayed through the Creature’s agony of realization (659). The Creature is
abandoned upon his appearance, and subjected to a life that portrays one
related to slavery in the nineteenth century. The tranquility of birth and
creation are ravaged by death and existence of subhuman entities (Levine 9). The
Creature observes the De Laceys as a superior influence that will command him
in the future. He is subjected to learn, through the acquisition of language
and knowledge, that he is of sub-status, and rather a creation of others that
society would repeal as superior. The Creature becomes thoroughly aware of the
social constructs and hierarchies around him, and plots his revenge upon his
creator, a tyrant of his cursed his creation. The Creature questions his creation,
and in turn acquires power over his creator, murders his beloved beings, makes
demands, and forces Victor to be into the same feelings associated with his
subjectivity – to feel less than human. Victor is ultimately the “monster” the
subject in his creation of an entity, and abandoned on upon his appearance.
Victor imposes an invalid superiority over the Creature, which in turn, projected
him as a monster of his own creation.  The
perception of the social hierarchy that regards the difference of man as
subhuman, is to the determine of our intellect, and a monstrosity to the
sovereignty of man resulting in social crisis.



“Volume Information.” Studies in the Novel, vol. 26, no. 4, 1994. JSTOR,
JSTOR, www.jstor.org/stable/29533006.


Ty, Eleanor. “Mary Wollstonecraft (Godwin) Shelley.” British
Romantic Novelists, 1789-1832, edited
by Bradford Keyes Mudge, Gale, Detroit, 1992. Literature
Resource Center,
Accessed Mar. 2017.


Shelley, Mary Wollonstonecraft, and Robert
Kiely. Frankenstein; or The Modern Prometheus. Courage Books, 1987. With essay from Robert
Kiely titled “Frankenstein.”


Levine, George. “The Ambiguous Heritage of
Frankenstein.” The Endurance of Frankenstein: Essays on Mary Shelley’s Novel, University of California Press, 1991, pp. 3–30.



Columbia Business School. “Gender and
race: How overlapping stereotypes affect our personal and professional
decisions.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 3 December 2012. .

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