An Analysis of Mary Shelley’s Feministic Consciousness in Frankenstein论玛丽•雪莱在《弗兰肯斯坦》中的女性主义意识文献综述

 2021-10-20 19:18:27


1. Introduction1.1 Research backgroundMary Shelleywas a transitional figure in the early and late 19th century, one of the first to recognize the danger of restricting female rationality and to resist it.Three volumes of Mary Shelley's letters, published in 1980, 1983 and 1988, shed new light on her. Placing Mary in her own intellectual and historical context, the researchers began to systematically analyze and interpret her letters and diaries. Even a brief description of Mary revealed her extraordinary characteristics of perseverance, courage, generosity and independence, as well as her personal struggle to achieve a full and productive life in spite of serious physical and financial difficulties.A group of researchersargue that Mary has insights into contemporary feminism analysis in many ways. In her works, Mary's values cover the daily events of life, in which we can find how women are limited, deteriorated and damaged in a traditional and patriarchalfamily.As the first science fiction with high literary value, Mary'sFrankenstein (1818)has gained timelesspopularity. However, Frankensteinwas not accepted by the public at first. It was in the mid-twentieth century thatsome literary critics truly recognized the significance of the novel.It was not until the 1970s, with the development of the feminist movement, that critics noticed the feministic consciousness reflected in the novel. In Frankenstein, the author fully affirmed and praised the feminine value of women and nature and severely criticized the patriarchal ideology hidden in the selfish pursuit of men. As time goes by, many scholarshave analyzed Frankenstein from various perspectivessuch as psychoanalysis, narrative strategy, theme, gothic features, cultural criticism, feminism, etc.The term"feminism", first appearing during the 1870s in France as "fminisme"although there is some speculation that it may have been used before, refers to women's freedom or emancipation.While it was common to see the word"feminist" used for figures such as Mary Wollstonecraft (17591797), feminism was not used in the modern sense until a century after her A Vindication of the Rights of Women was published in 1792.In 1892, a congressman in Paris was described as a feminist. This launched a more widespread adoption of the term in the 1890s, with its use appearing in Great Britain and America around 1894.Feminism is "a collection of movements and ideologies that share a common stated aim: to define, establish, and defend equal political, economic, cultural, and social rights for women" (Marcelo,2015).This includes seeking to establish equal opportunities for women in education and employment. As the extension of feminism into theoretical, fictional, or philosophical discourse, the theory on feminism aims to understand gender inequality and focuses on gender politics, power relations, and sexuality. Themes explored in the feminism theory include discrimination, stereotyping, objectification (especially sexual objectification), oppressionand patriarchy. It is generally recognized that the feminism theoryconsists of four schools:Liberal feminism, socialist feminism, radical feminism and Marxist feminism(Xu, 2015). Liberal feminism, an individualistic form of feminist theory, focuses on womens personal rights, political and religious freedom, rights of choice and self-determination. Socialist feminism lays stress on the interconnectivity of the patriarchy and capitalism, whose core ideology is to overthrow the capitalist system and change the patriarchal mentality. As a perspective within feminism, radical feminism tries to find ways of freeing women from all the forms of oppression. Marxist feminism, the product of the combination of feminism and Marxism, insists on taking historical materialism and Marxist theory of women's liberation as the cornerstone, and holds that the goal of women's liberation and socialism are the same. Each school has its own value and significance, and has been playing an important role in womens liberation.In the 19th century, British feministic consciouness experienced a ground-breaking processwith the development of society. It evolved from the awakening of women's self-consciousness at the beginning of the 19th century to the large-scale struggle for social rights after 1880. Although the 18th century was called the age of enlightenment and the 19th century was called the age of rationality, these seemingly civilized words could not hold up the position of women in society. The yearning for a free and equal society made many feminists keep on the path of feminism. Mary Shelley was one of those feminists who strove for freedom and equality. What those female characters undergo in Mary Shelleys Frankenstein is the epitome of those women in the patriarchal society. Mary Shelley conveys to some extent feministic consciousness through the portrait of three female characters distinct characteristics in Frankenstein, which will be the focus of this thesis.1.2 Literature reviewFrankenstein has gained abundance of attention since its publication. Many scholars confirm its contributing significance on the developing progress of literature. Li(2011) focuses on feministic romanticism in Frankenstein. She believes that Mary Shelley shows the theme of female romanticism in her work. Adventure and love constitute the tone of the novel.The workexpresses the belief of gender equality in a highly romantic way, reflecting the identity anxiety of the author and all women in the patriarchal society. Collings (2011) provides an eco-feminist view of the"Night of the Living Dead Model" and suggests that only the equal union of "masculine"and "feminine" energies will help us resolve the current eco-crisis. Feng (2012) analyzes the weak status of several female characters in the novel, and explores their power and influence on men and families from another perspective. Women in Frankenstein are either deprived of their right to speak, or become victims of patriarchal society because they are confined to family chores or exploited by men. Although womens family status is low,their strength is not weak. Women have a great influence on men and their families, and even determine their fate. The loss of women is the key to their tragedies, which is the fundamental foothold of the novel. Women are of incalculable importance to men and their families.Ens (2015) explores feminism in Frankenstein from the ethics of care, readingthe novelas a criticism of the masculinist values and assumptions embedded in the emerging moral theories of Shelley's period. Wei (2016) analyzes feministic consciousness in Frankenstein from the perspective of ecofeminism. Inspired by the emerging technology, people have an unprecedented enthusiasm for science and technology, hoping that it can change everything. But with the advent of the industrial age, the living environment of human beings has been devastated. At the same time, the status of women has not changed qualitatively due to the development of technology. Men still hold the dominant position, while women are the appendages of men. Worse still, women are deprived of the right to education, confined to the family and eventually alienated from society.According to Li (2018), we can seefrom the monster described in Frankenstein the shadow of women in the patriarchal society. The most tragic point is that the monster doesn't even deserve a name of its own but simply called the monster. Since the dawn of feministic consciousness in the 18th century, all women have experienced difficulties in a short period of time to fight for their equal rights. Just like the monster, who has been fighting all its life,women and the monster in Frankenstein are victims of male chauvinism.From the perspective of Mary Shelleys feministic consciousness in Frankenstein, scholars emphasize more on her mental development without exploring the causes of such change. Therefore, this thesis will analyze Mary Shelleys feministic consciousness within the framework of Betty Friedans theory and the causes of her feministic consciousness.1.3 Need of the studyThe thesis will explore feministic conciousness Mary Shelley conveys in Frankenstein by comparing the three female characters' distinct characteristics, and the causes of Mary'sfeministic conciousness in three aspects: Rebellious character, family environment and social environment. It can provide some enlightening thoughts on the feminist theory as well as enhance the readers reinterpretation of the novel from a feminist critical perspective. Secondly, the thesis will be conducive to modern women in the way of keeping independent personalities and daring to pursue equal rights.2. Betty Friedan's Theory on FeminismBetty Friedan's feministic consciousness has been mainly formedanddeveloped respectively in The Feminine Mystique(1963) and The Second Stage(1981). Her major thought includes breaking the "feminine mystique" set by American society for women, and encouraging women to pursue equality and liberation by pursuing education and working in the society.The "feminine mystique"refers totelling people that the highest value and the only mission of women is the perfection of their nature, which only exists in the dominance of men, the meekness of women in sexual obedience, and the maternal love of their children. The "feminine mystique" is to make women accept their own characteristics such as "obedience, passivity and weakness". "Obedience" does not allow women to go against mens wishes; "passivity" makes women lack confidence and doubt their abilities; "weakness" limits womens freedom and prevents them from pursuing the same rights as men.However, Betty Friedan suggests that women break the "feminine mystique" as well as puts forward her own thoughts on how to help women pursue equality and liberation freely. On the one hand, she believes that the key to getting rid of the mystery of women lies in women themselves. Women should be confident enough to make their own decisions. Therefore, they are supposed to rely on their own wisdom and ability to challenge the oppression of the patriarchal society. It is equally necessary for women to have financial resources and then become economically independent. On the other hand, women should be allowed to pursue independence, equality, freedom, value and liberation and enjoy equal treatment with men rather than only be housewives.So Friedan offers two suggestions: to promote their own development, women should get equal and advanced education; they should pursue careers in society because they are just as capable, intelligent and courageous as men. Only in these two ways can they improve their identities and status in the family and society.However, women should not abandon their families and love while pursuing equality and liberation, which is conducive to building a harmoniousrelationship between men and women.References Bert, O. (2018). Mary Shelley's Frankenstein and ecological responsibility.Journal of literary studies, 4, 1-25.Catherine, B. (2019). Editors foreword: A year of Frankenstein. Literature and medicine, 2, 261-263.Collings, T. (2011). Frankenstein and feminism: Contemplating the memoirs of Elizabeth Frankenstein. Anthropology of consciousness, 22(1), 66 68.Cook, A. (2019). Perfecting monstrosity: Frankenstein and the enlightenment debate on perfectibility. Nineteenth-century contexts, 3, 243-253.Ens, D. (2015). Mary Shelley's Frankenstein as a defense of the ethics of care. Saskatchewan: University of Saskatchewan.Marcelo, N, (2015).Frankenstein: The story of amonster.Scholastic scope, 2, 11-17.Mellor, A. (1988). Mary Shelley: Her life , her fiction,her monsters. New York: Methuen.Smith, R. (2019). Frankenstein in the automatic factory. Nineteenth-century contexts, 3, 303-319.Stainer, P. (2015). The leavening, and: Frankenstein onOrkney. Ploughshares,1, 197-198.Webster, A. (2018). Ahmed Saadawis Frankenstein in Baghdad: A tale of biomedical salvation?Literature and medicine, 2, 439-463.李若川、谭宇琴 (2014), 《弗兰肯斯坦》造物神话的女性主义解读。

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