Presentation Title

Social Ostracism in Frankenstein and Jane Eyre: The Importance of Identity

Faculty Mentor

Stephen Clifford

Start Date

18-11-2017 10:45 AM

End Date

18-11-2017 11:00 AM

Location

15-1828

Session

Humanities 2

Type of Presentation

Oral Talk

Subject Area

humanities_letters

Abstract

There may seem to be no correlation between Mary Shelley’s 1818 Gothic novel Frankenstein, a story of a human-like creation with a lack of identity, and Charlotte Bronte’s 1847 Victorian novel Jane Eyre, a story of a poor orphaned governess; in fact, little academic research compares the two. However, the novels share a common tale of social ostracism. Readers might ask why the social ostracism of the Creation in Shelley’s Frankenstein led to his eventual downfall, and why this was not the case for Jane in Bronte’s Jane Eyre. Shelley responds to the Creation’s conformity to social perception of him with self-inflicted punishment and a tragic end. In contrast, Bronte responds to Jane’s subtle yet evident conformity to social norms with a series of happy coincidences and a fairy-tale ending. Jane Eyre finds a way to present a heroine who somehow manages to develop and grow, upholding the expectations of society while constructing her own identity. However, Frankenstein displays the consequence of conformity in a negative light with the Creation’s lack of a name and an identity resulting in ostracism and destruction. By examining both historical and modern sociological archetypes, as well as the social construction of identity presented by critics such as Ashley Craig Lancaster and Lorna Ellis, my research argues that Shelley sets the Creation up to become the epitome of monsters through his lack of an identity while Bronte allows Jane to be a self-constructed and self-fulfilled heroine.

Summary of research results to be presented

As I neared the end of my research, I came to the conclusion that the Creation in Shelley's Frankenstein was never meant to move forward from his social ostracism because he had no actual identity nor did he bother to create one for himself, unlike Jane in Bronte's Jane Eyre who remained victorious despite her social ostracism primarily because she remained aware of her self-constructed identity. This can be seen in some of the research I used such as Lorna Ellis' critical essay entitled, “Jane Eyre and the Self-Constructed Heroine.” These results can also be seen in Ashley Craig Lancaster's journal article entitled, “From Frankenstein’s Monster to Lester Ballard: The Evolving Gothic Monster.” This research presentation draws upon the ideas that the Creation's lack of a name and his eventual and evident conformity to societal expectations, he then develops a lack of identity as well which, in turn, leads to his defeat in the battle against social ostracism. Meanwhile, Jane still commits to the Eyre name, her strong sense of self, and her subtle amount of conformity so as to heroically persevere through social ostracism.

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Nov 18th, 10:45 AM Nov 18th, 11:00 AM

Social Ostracism in Frankenstein and Jane Eyre: The Importance of Identity

15-1828

There may seem to be no correlation between Mary Shelley’s 1818 Gothic novel Frankenstein, a story of a human-like creation with a lack of identity, and Charlotte Bronte’s 1847 Victorian novel Jane Eyre, a story of a poor orphaned governess; in fact, little academic research compares the two. However, the novels share a common tale of social ostracism. Readers might ask why the social ostracism of the Creation in Shelley’s Frankenstein led to his eventual downfall, and why this was not the case for Jane in Bronte’s Jane Eyre. Shelley responds to the Creation’s conformity to social perception of him with self-inflicted punishment and a tragic end. In contrast, Bronte responds to Jane’s subtle yet evident conformity to social norms with a series of happy coincidences and a fairy-tale ending. Jane Eyre finds a way to present a heroine who somehow manages to develop and grow, upholding the expectations of society while constructing her own identity. However, Frankenstein displays the consequence of conformity in a negative light with the Creation’s lack of a name and an identity resulting in ostracism and destruction. By examining both historical and modern sociological archetypes, as well as the social construction of identity presented by critics such as Ashley Craig Lancaster and Lorna Ellis, my research argues that Shelley sets the Creation up to become the epitome of monsters through his lack of an identity while Bronte allows Jane to be a self-constructed and self-fulfilled heroine.