Chosen Essay topic “Gender identity entraps and limits us.” Examine this assertion with reference to your chosen texts.

Secondary Source Summary:

Mary Shelley, Frankenstein, and the Spectacle of Masculinity, Bette London, Modern Language Association, 1993.

Bette London is a Professor at the University of Rochester and is widely published on the subject of modern and classical literature. Her article draws upon a range of sources to provide both supporting material and target arguments including the work of Rieger and Mellor, both of whom have been critiqued within the article. London looks at the role of gender in both Mary Shelley’s work, critiques of “Frankenstein” and depictions of Mary Shelley particularly in relation to the death of Percy Bysshe Shelley. In critiquing these sources she reaches the conclusion that though male characters are at the centre of the text it is the absent female characters that define its parameters and enable us to examine the flaws and intricacies of the protagonists.

This article raises a few points relevant to my chosen essay topic; that the gender identity of the Creature is a limiting factor, that Victor Frankenstein’s obsession or need to discover the secret of exclusively male creation is at the centre of his pursuits, but primarily I have chosen this article because it lays the groundwork for a tantalising argument that struck a chord with me immediately. If Victor Frankenstein had divulged his secret to his intended wife Elizabeth, rather than not trusting her judgement, strength, or courage, arguably on the basis of her gender as he extensively later reveals it to Walton, he may have been able to avoid her demise. But he lives in such a male centred time and in such a male centred mindset that he does not see the value in her opinion or advice, and does not even contemplate that he may not be the Creature’s intended victim.


Reese, Diana “A Troubled Legacy: Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein and the Inheritance of Human Rights” Representations, Vol. 96, No. 1, University of California Press, 2006. pp. 48-72 Stable URL:

Sussman, Charlotte “Daughter of the Revolution: Mary Shelley in Our Times” Journal for Early Modern Cultural Studies, Vol. 4, No. 1, Women Writers of the Eighteenth Century, University of Pennsylvania Press, 2004. pp. 158-186 Stable URL:

London, Bette “Mary Shelley, Frankenstein, and the Spectacle of Masculinity”, PMLA Vol. 108, No. 2, Modern Language Association, 1993. pp. 253-267 Stable URL: