The Universal Myth in Context: Fathers and Sons and Their Relationships With Each Other in Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein
Driel, E.J. van
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Fathers and sons have been the topic of literary research for as long as people have been able to analyse the relationship between fathers and sons in fiction. Conflict between fathers and their sons can be considered a universal myth as it is a recurring topic in fiction. Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein has been taken out of context by modern media continually, instead of focusing on the relationships between the fathers and sons the subject of monstrosity and horror is favoured. Academic studies, however, focus mostly on the universal concept and Freudian theories when discussing the father and son relationships. Essentially, at Frankenstein’s core are relationships between fathers and sons, but these are often still filtered purely through a modern-day perspective. Several different representations of these father/son relationships can be found within Mary Shelley’s novel, but the historical context of the time around the Regency can provide a wider view on these relationships. Frankenstein is a product of its time, a clear reflection of the Regency crisis and the issues with authority that were the result of this crisis. The father/son relationships in Frankenstein, with proper context of the tumultuous change going on around the time of publication in 1818, are examined through a close reading and comparison. Victor’s abandonment of the Creature, Alphonse’s gentle parenting, and Walton and Clerval’s strict fathers are exemplary of the time they were created in, and still relevant to the modern reader.