Abstract

abstract:

A white, wealthy, educated male, Victor Frankenstein spends a good portion of Mary Shelley’s novel complaining about being a slave to his Creature. Victor’s laments draw attention to Frankenstein’s engagement with debates about race, slavery, and abolition. The novel seems to ask what a slave is and thereby challenges notions about racial difference and the ideals of cultural/intellectual superiority that support enslaving populations. Foundational studies by H. L. Malchow and others on race in Frankenstein have defined the views of Shelley’s father, William Godwin, as well as the pervasive ideas of the era, to clarify the ways in which the Creature is racially coded to align with stereotypes about Blacks in particular. Using these studies as a starting point, Maisha Wester specifically examines the ways in which Shelley’s text engages the anxieties born out of slave insurrections and Britain’s abolition of the slave trade. To this end, she explores Shelley’s depiction of the turbulence in British society arising from these issues, showing how the Creature’s attacks metaphorize the insurrections that disturbed the era’s notions of racial difference. Ultimately, her essay explains how Victor is, indeed, a “slave”—as are many others like him.

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Additional Information

ISSN
1544-399X
Print ISSN
0018-7895
Pages
pp. 729-748
Launched on MUSE
2021-04-23
Open Access
No
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