Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein – the art of a digesting monster as a representative for a political critic of the society

Publikation: Bidrag til bog/antologi/rapport/konference proceedingBidrag til bog/antologiForskning


In our work to reveal women’s central role as patrons and artists who probed the relationship between politics and art in the public sphere in the long eighteenth century, we have focused on the English novelist and dramatist Mary Shelley.
Scholars have argued that Shelley at this key moment in time, when the nature of politics itself was changing - and, with it, the production of art - was very conscious of the political issues of her time.
Her father the political philosopher William Godwin and her mother the philosopher and feminist Mary Wollstonecraft had many visitors in their house when Mary was young, visitors that included numerous leading radical thinkers. Shelley was observing the discussions and she developed an understanding of the cruelty and tyranny that may be inherent in human institutions as well as the social and political establishment. It is our thesis that this understanding is echoed in the monster Frankenstein's many critical comments on human society.
But even through monsters often can be seen as a type of the outsider, an otherworldly creature who is regarded as inferior, Shelley’s monster has to eat; has to take in nutrition to survive, and by doing that also makes some political choices. At a point in the story, Frankenstein has to live like an animal and sleep with the pigs, yet, the monster will not eat the animals for moral reasons, saying: “My food is not that of man; I do not destroy the lamb and the kid to glut my appetite; acorns and berries afford me sufficient nourishment”. Our paper deals with the art of food and food as a public agency in relation to Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein.
TitelChristie’s Education Symposium 2018: Celebrating Female Agency in the Arts
StatusUdgivet - 2019