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Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein: Critics’ Evaluation

Mary Shelley's Frankenstein: Critical Evaluation

Frankenstein is a well-known fictional novel that has been widely referred by a great number of critics. The peculiar style of the work as well as the skillful combination of the horrific, gothic, romantic and fictional details have been the main reasons why it attracts attention of various literature experts. The current writing will focus on two separate critiques, which were presented by Naomi Hetherington and Sherry Ginn. Both critics provide an insight into the Frankenstein world and explain certain hints left by the author to have a proper comprehension of the text. However, Naomi Hetherington’s position is stronger. The critique “Creator and Created in Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein” is used to adequately argue that a human should not have the same power as God as the inhumanity idea will bring only misery to such person, and that is the reason why such power has to be limited wisely.

“Creator and Created in Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein” is a critical review written by Naomi Hetherington, Professor of the University of Sheffield for Lifelong Learning. She is interested in the literature of the late nineteenth century and religious cultures. Professor Hetherington authored numerous publications in these areas.

In her critical paper “Creator and Created in Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein”, Professor Hetherington is focused on the idea that a person cannot have the same power as God. Moreover, human power has to be limited, because possible inhumane actions will lead people only to misery.

According to the critic’s analysis, from the religious point of view, Shelley’s book describes the things that could be done only by God and the power of people was limited reasonably, as otherwise the extent of this power would lead only to misery. The writer described Frankenstein as someone evil who goes against God and religion. However, despite shown inhumanity, it can be seen that the character realized that there is no happiness in such power, as one can become happy only through simplicity and affection. Such position is right, because, in most instances, power possession does not bring happiness to people and, in most cases, it makes them suffer. If one had such abilities, the only way for this person would be misery. Such individual would think about himself/herself as God, who can do everything without consequences. Therefore, human being cannot reach a height of God, because his/her powers are limited. These limitations are important, as without them the creative nature of the man would lead to the tyranny and destruction. It is also true that such actions and family ignorance made Frankenstein unhappy while his family has been viewed as absolutely friendly and supportive: mutuality and assistance have always been taking place within their daily routine.

Hetherington has shown a really strong, well-supported and analyzed position in her critical work. To back up her own argument and provide a sufficient research, Professor used reliable and valid sources that made her standpoint even more convincing. The outside sources such as, for instance, Milton’s Paradise Lost, provided by the author of the critique support the allegorical meaning of Frankenstein as one who violates the rules of appearance of human beings on earth from the perspective of Christianity (Hetherington, par. 15). To back up her own idea, Hetherington also referred to St. Leon, who is viewed as very similar to Frankenstein: “an exiled French aristocrat is given the elixir of life” along with philosopher’s stone (Hetherington, par. 17). However, he was not supposed to reveal this information to his wife and only later he realized that no immortality and health could replace one’s happiness obtained through family relationship (Hetherington, par. 17).

These references are valid, because they support Hetherington’s idea about impossibility to be as powerful as God extremely well and make her position very strong. Moreover, bright examples let one understand the main idea of the critique and decide clearly, whether it can be supported or not. Hetherington uses this evidence in proper way, which helps her to present a very deep and interesting text improved by valid references. The author refers to the problem from the historical and religious perspectives. Additionally, in the paper, there are no gaps in evidence and reasoning, the examples are very impressive, reliable and interesting. Therefore, the author represents the material clearly and logically and uses credible sources.

In contrast to the previous position, the following critical analysis offered by Sherry Ginn is based not on the religious aspect, but simply on the psychological points. The author has published many researches in psychology and neuroscience areas. Sherry Ginn provided her critique “Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein: Science, Science Fiction, or Autobiography”, where Frankenstein’s position and his actions are analyzed only from the scientific point of view that has nothing common with religious aspects. According to Ginn’s critical analysis, there are eight stages of the development of personality and every phase occurs as a reaction on demands toward person or as a response on her or his environment. This process causes a conflict which provides further growth and physical development of individual. By dealing with conflicts on every stage, one attains an individual growth. However, at each stage, each individual has to face challenges and to fight with own vulnerability. Exactly with this Erikson’s theory Ginn explains Frankenstein’s behavior. According to her point of view, the main reason of the character’s actions was not an opposition to God or religion. Frankenstein was simply trying to deal with his conflict that appeared because of the demands and environmental factors (Ginn).

The two critics discuss Mary Shelley and her Frankenstein novel from different points, which actually are suitable for the given analysis. One critique is focused on the religious perspective, while another provides scientific criticism. However, the work of Naomi Hetherington is stronger, because the religious analysis is more valid than scientific one due to the society of the 19th century, which was very religious and believed that no human can be as strong as God and no one except God can have a creative function. Yet both works are significant for the analysis of Frankenstein and his personality.


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