Thursday, April 3, 2014

Frankenstein Short Story Final Project Proposal


What would have happened if Victor Frankenstein heeded the wishes of the monster he created, and crafted him a female companion? We asked this question while discussing Frankenstein towards the beginning of the semester. I would like to answer this “what if” scenario, but not in a typical essay. I wish to explore this question in a creative and in-depth short story through the point of view of the female monster that Frankenstein creates.
I am a writing major, and so I believe that I can express my ideas and knowledge about a subject best through a creative narrative. I plan on making the story at least eight pages, but it will probably go up to about 15 or so pages, considering that there is much more spacing involved in a story than in a conventional essay.
This will not be a shallow narrative. I plan on addressing many issues within the frame of my story. For instance, what if the female monster was not only created by Frankenstein, but also soon grew more powerful than the original male monster? What if the pair of them overthrew Frankenstein, and murdered him, and killed off the rest of the human race as well? This would give me the room to explore what the world would be like if a woman were in power. Perhaps, being the stereotypical “gentler” sex, she would attempt to create a more peaceful world with less fighting and more cooperation. I would explore how that approach would turn out if the monsters started their world like that. For this reason, I plan on writing the story in a first person-narrative from the female monster’s perspective.
If a female were to run the society, then what type of society would it be? If I were to go with the idea that the female monster was going to be more tame and gentle than the stereotypical male, then I highly doubt it would be a capitalist society. I believe it would turn out to be more like a socialist society, with all of the monsters partaking in running the government. Through my story, you will be able to see how this turns out, and whether it is a successful plan or not. I will incorporate some of Marcuse’s ideas, such as when he writes, “True, there is a ‘first phase’ of socialist construction during which the new society is ‘still stamped with the birthmarks of the old society from whose womb it emerges,’ but the qualitative change from the old to the new society occurred when this phase began” (Marcuse 41). Thus, I will also carefully choose which items and concepts from the past world with the humans the monsters bring over to their new life, and which they choose to leave behind. This will be an important decision that really marks their new life as a new society, and may even determine its success.
That being said, another concept that I wish to bring over from Marcuse is his encouragement of an “anti-consumerism” society. The monsters in my story will not have any unnecessary amenities, after all, they are only monsters. This will give them more time to focus on their aesthetic interests. With a tremendous amount of time dedicated to things like art and beauty, their world will turn out much different from ours. So, how will their lives turn out when it is run by two monsters and their offspring, with the female as the leader, where they value cooperation and aesthetic beauty? I guess you will just have to read to find out.
I am also considering supplementing my story with a “mini-essay” of sorts explaining the deeper concepts within my short story to highlight exactly how their world is an interpretation on our world. In a way, it would be a self-analysis essay, describing the way in which I wish my story to be read, but I would like your opinion as to whether or not this is a good idea.

3 comments:

Jessica Craig said...

Kristen- my immediate thought is that this is a very interesting and creative idea.
So this new society you will be describing in your essay is both socialist and female-run. Right now it seems like these two ideas are fairly separate. Is the society anti-consumer and focused on aesthetic beauty because of the female ruler? Are these two aspects running parallel, do they ever overlap? What would Marcuse say about a single leader, regardless of gender? I’m sure you have or will think of a way to either reconcile these two aspects or explain the dichotomy between them. If you are going to argue that the society is socialist because the ruler is female, I would explicitly describe the “stereotype” you are referring to. I think of the stereotype as casting women in docile/gentle but powerless roles. The female monster will embody one aspect of this, but not the other. That might be confusing. Another slight inconsistency I noted. You say, “What if the pair of them overthrew Frankenstein, and murdered him, and killed off the rest of the human race as well? This would give me the room to explore what the world would be like if a woman were in power. Perhaps, being the stereotypical “gentler” sex, she would attempt to create a more peaceful world with less fighting and more cooperation. I would explore how that approach would turn out if the monsters started their world like that.” These two ideas, the violent overthrow of the human race and the more peaceful world under a female ruler, seem slightly at odds. Do the humans have to all die, can there be two parallel societies—meaning the human race still exists but the female monster is in charge of the monsters? And then here again I would be careful to explain why you think a woman would make a more peaceful world… the human female characters in the novel are submissive and powerless and perhaps might be more peaceful and “gentler.” But then a female character in power at all seems at odds with the novel. Your new narrative addition to the novel will just change the female/male dynamic greatly, and I think it needs to come with good explanation. Also, I think the mini-essay might be a good idea, but if you do the creative essay well enough, a supplemental piece might not be necessary. Good luck!

Brendan Demich said...

Kristen,

I really like where this essay could go! I think you could make a very interesting and useful short story! Some suggestions I have for you are these:

You may want to consider a significant location for this short story to take place in. You may want monster society will need to be isolated from western society. The monster in Frankenstein considered making his way to somewhere remote in South America.

I think you are making an interesting continuation on Shelley’s ideas feminism in your short story. Having a female character in the position of power would be unlike the style in Frankenstein with oppressive male roles, but the strong female would be an interesting contrast to that story.

If you are feeling bold, you may want to do some reading about Marxist theory. Maybe some scholarly reactions to the Communist Manifesto, or some passages from the Manifesto itself. But I am not literate in Marxist theory, so I honestly don’t know the difficult of this kind of research would be. Sorry

I too find a contradiction in your origins of the creatures that Jessica mentioned. I’m confused why the monsters would kill off the human society, and then begin living a peaceful life. I am interested in the idea of a monster story, but there might be something you need to work out in this aspect.

Adam said...

I like the proposal. Developing Frankenstein into explicitly feminist science fiction (which is what you're proposing) is a good way of doing something which is clearly in Shelley's spirit but equally clearly your own.

For inspiration, you might want to watch the 1935 film Bride of Frankenstein (which, while not notably feminist in its outlook is almost explicitly queer in its outlook). I don't want to overload you with reading, but you might also find some ideas by reading some feminist science fiction.

My only concern is that you're proposing to do an awful lot in, say, 15 pages. You'll probably find the page count growing, and you'll probably also need to focus on a very limited subset of how your female monster creates a new society - fewer topics, not more, will be desirable.

I agree with Jess in a sense that "a female character in power at all seems at odds with the novel" - but that's the appeal of it. You are doing your own thing, even if it has roots int eh novel.

You might continue to make use of Marcuse (what transcendental concepts do women, or the liberation of women, require?), or you might choose to delve a little into feminist theory. The feminist theorist I've used in this class before is Donna Haraway - people usually hate her work, which is why I'm taking a break from it, but she talks briefly about Frankenstein (and lots about technology) in her essay "A Cyborg Manifesto" in ways you might find useful.