It might be the result, as feminists conventionally argue, of Frankenstein’s rage for creative autonomy. Or it might be, alternatively, symptomatic of a repression of the mother by Shelley herself. 24 Could it be that Shelley’s autonomy as a creator, as much as Victor Frankenstein’s, depends upon the elision of motherhood from the creative enterprise? Feminist critics implicitly exonerate Shelley from such psychological tensions by reading her narrative as a cool intellectual critique of patriarchy, which at one level it emphatically is. But on another level it betrays an intense discomfort with the lot of the mother as origin of life given to death. 25 Shelley represses this biological fate and substitutes for it the labors of artistic creation. Her “hideous progeny” [Introduction 12], a work of art, is not subject to death, as were her <354>children. 26 Frankenstein lives today beyond all mortal touch. Repressing the mother allows Shelley to control the creative enterprise rather than be controlled by it. This evasion of biological fate is the condition of creative freedom, for as we have already seen, the monster turns destructive precisely because he cannot maintain such an evasion. Shelley published her novel anonymously in part to reinforce this repression; where once was a mother is now a nameless creator.
Immediately after murdering little William, the fresh new monster sees a small within children’s neck: “It had been a beneficial portrait out-of a many lovely lady
The presence of for example good repression might be an emotional claim to help you endure was in fact it not too the mother reappears in the Frankenstein during the strange and you may sublimated suggests. Following the death of Caroline Beaufort, that the 1818 edition happen that have superior swiftness, the newest mom’s lives is totally figural; she becomes just picture of a disappeared exposure. Shelley a bit decreases it ghostliness inside the inform, however in the first penned brand of new narrative Caroline Beaufort remains generally a great figment of your own creativity, an effective figuration of the maternal. The lady earliest substantial looks try an effective disappearance, brand new small and you will fatal result of scarlet fever. She yields, not, since a figure one to haunts Frankenstein’s ambitions and you may presides more their dad’s home. Whenever Frankenstein comes back in order to Geneva just after a lack of half dozen decades, having been recalled of the reports off his cousin William’s demise, first thing he observes abreast of typing his dad’s house is a paint out-of his destroyed mom:
The conventional feminist implications of this existence are clear enough: the fact that this picture was painted at the urging of a “father’s desire” suggests that a woman’s body has been appropriated to become an object for masculine idealizing. But Caroline Beaufort’s is a macabre kind of beauty. This painting emphasizes, on a sublime scale, the proximity of the mother to death. If we approach it in psychological terms, as the figural effect of repression, then it suggests a resistance on Shelley’s part to the tragic implications of motherhood. She cannot approach or present it directly because the mother is a fatal creator and her labors are tied to time. So she sublimates the mother, recreating <355>her on a heroic and ideal scale. The miniature of the dead William that hangs beneath his mother’s sublime image only reinforces Shelley’s point: motherhood creates a lineage of death that art recreates by idealizing. The apparent autonomy of the artist — particularly the female artist — comes for Shelley at the cost of repressing the mother, whose fatal influence is purged through an idealizing art.
For a few moments I gazed with joy for her black vision, fringed because of the strong eyelashes, and her lovely throat” (139)
Shelley ergo regulation mom because of the reproducing the girl into the idealized, visual terms and conditions, purifying the woman image from the defilement she originates. Nowhere is it idealizing purpose of artwork clearer than in the fresh new monster’s run into having another picture of Caroline Beaufort. Regardless of my personal malignity, it softened and you can drawn myself. The ideal appeal of the newest mom’s photo each other charms and enrages the new monster, who senses a continuous breakup from it. This visual idealization would depend at some point upon repressing the greater fatal issues of the mother, and therefore emerge ultimately regarding used to that your beast places new little. With the picture of Caroline Beaufort becomes evidence that seals new fate of your innocent Justine. The fresh figural mom productivity to the woman foster-child, therefore the deadly causality one backlinks her or him reveals the newest repressed curse out of impurity you to definitely artistic production works to idealize.