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Frankenstein Essay

 

My essay from the Coursera section about Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein:

On the surface, Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein does not appear to be a feminist book. The women in the novel don’t appear often and are sexless and insipid for the most part. The strongest woman is Justine who is falsely convicted of murdering the youngest Frankenstein brother. Even she goes along with the men. She warrants that she is not guilty, but concedes to the conviction without further demur. These are not strong women portrayed in Frankenstein.Women wanting to be equal with men in business, politics, medicine, etc., are often sidetracked when they decide to have children. They have the physical responsibility and the health risks of pregnancy. It was common for women and/or their infants to die in childbirth. Also, women are perceived as the main nurturer while the man is the provider for a family. It is usually true that even when two parents share responsibility for child and home care, the woman usually does more of those tasks.Frankenstein by Mary ShellyIn this novel, the monster is not birthed by a woman. Shelley’s monster is created instead. Although this first monster is a failure, the procedure could be the first step is freeing women from the physical process of pregnancy. If Frankenstein had carried on his experiments – perhaps even with the creation of a partner for the monster – his techniques would have improved. The next creation would not have been as horrific since he could have learned from his mistakes. Frankenstein’s process could eventually have relieved women of the responsibility and risks of childbirth.

Frankenstein flees when he sees his creation. He refuses to take responsibility. Most women care for their babies willingly, no matter what. This man can’t. The creation of life could have freed women in the future. Instead, Frankenstein rejects that possibility. This portrays the strength of women and a subtle sense of feminism in Shelley’s Frankenstein.

Citation: Youngquist, Paul. “Frankenstein: The Mother, the Daughter, and the Monster.” Philological Quarterly 70, 3 (Summer 1991): 339-359.

Dracula – Coursera Essay

 

Dracula by Bram StokerWe read Bram Stoker’s Dracula for our third selection. Here is my essay:

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Bram Stoker has infused his novel Dracula with shadows to add in the buildup of the horror of the story. One image he uses extremely well is that of mist and fog.An image of mist and low clouds or fog immediately brings stealth and cover to mind. When the men go looking for the vampire, they encounter mist many times in their search. The mist is a representation of their quest. A foggy mind struggles to get a clear vision or to think clearly. Stoker uses this imagery to increase the frightening mood.

Mist can seep in through small cracks. Dracula changes into mist when he slips into a building to feed on a human. This adds another sense of creepiness; the reader can remember the times he has seen fog roil through an open door.

When they return to Transylvania, the men know the Count is using the fog and weather to cover the ship carrying his coffin. It is a powerful tool for Dracula. Each time Stoker uses it, another layer of despair is added to his tale.

The mist also works with the religious theme Stoker uses throughout Dracula. Mist covers things like a shroud or veil does. The characters each learn to carry a crucifix to keep the vampire away. Mina Harker is a godly woman, praying all the time the men are hunting the vampire. Religion is the light to dispel the mist. In the Christian Bible, 2 Corinthians 3:16 states “But whenever anyone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away.” When they destroy Count Dracula, the mist dissipates, along with the darkness that surrounds them.

Mist and fog add to the eerieness of Bram Stoker’s novel. He uses it effectively, even in the end when it disappears with the Count.

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Grimm’s Fairy Tales – Coursera Essay

 

I hope Aravis meant it. After her request I decided to post the short essays I’ve been writing for the Coursera science fiction and fantasy class. The first week we read a copy of Grimm’s Fairy Tales grouped together in an edition from the late 1800’s called Household Stories, available free through the Open Library.

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Ignoring Cultural DifferencesEurope, including Germany, was comprised of many small political regions during the 18th and 19th centuries. There were culture clashes on all sides. It is easy to develop an “us vs them” attitude. The city states and communication limitations fostered that mindset. Some of the Grimms’ stories address the differences by ignoring them in some animal stories.

“Bremen Town Musicians” is a good example of “people” working together. They have something in common – they are old and in danger of being killed. The ass offers to help others who aren’t any threat to him. But the next three, the cat, the cock, and the dog, are enemies. Dogs chase cats, cats eat birds, and cocks strike out at anything that threatens them. When this group has an opportunity to improve their lives, they work together. They trick the robbers by their wits to trick, attack, and repel the men.

“Old Sultan” is another story of unlikely animals working together. When Sultan thinks he was about to die, the dog visits his friend the wolf. Their first trick uses each of their own natures as they work together. The wolf “steals” the baby – expected for a wolf. Sultan rescues the baby. That is part of the nature of a trusted family pet. After the wolf and dog’s misunderstanding about the sheep, the wolf challenges the dog. He brings a boar as his second for a duel. The dog brings a cat – again, different natures working together. The wolf surrenders after the cat chases away the boar. The wolf and dog become friends again despite their nature.

Although these types of stories are not common in the Household Tales, they are not common in real life as well. The stories illustrate that people can overcome their culture and prejudices to come together.

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There are many morals throughout the Fairy Tales. This is the theme I chose for my essay.