The two critics whom I have decided to evaluate are Naomi Hetherington and Sherry Ginn. On Ginn’s webpage, the only indication of credentials is listed underneath her name, implying that she is affiliated with Wingate University. I was able to find that she is a professor there. Hetherington does not make any reference to the credentials on the webpage. However, this does not reflect her academic history nor her writing career, as she has had a career in multiple academic institutions throughout the United Kingdom. Both authors listed and cited multiple sources throughout their work, and took slightly different approaches in writing them. While one author chose to analyze Frankenstein from a metaphorical stance, the other analyzes from a psychological perspective.
The theses of the two critiques were written quite differently, as were the structures of the analyses themselves. Ginn’s thesis implies that she is more interested in the real-world circumstances that underlined the authorship of the novel. I do agree with her thesis more than I agree with Hetherington’s. This is because she thoroughly analyzes who Mary Shelley was as a person as a point of comparison to her novel. Most of her sources throughout her critique deal with other evaluations of the novel, as well as childhood psychology. She uses Shelley’s neglectful and sullen upbringing and life as an explanation for her inspiration. I agree that this is an accurate perspective to take on writing this evaluation. Other analyses, particularly ones written around Shelley’s time, focus more on the novel itself rather than the author. (Scott)
While she does not seem to say anything which is necessarily contradicting to Ginn’s evaluation, Hetherington makes her conclusion on a subjective basis. She discussed the individual themes of Frankenstein, and the possibilities of broader underlying themes. She states her thesis as : “Here, however, I wish to concentrate on the allegorical meaning of the text, viewing it historically as a construction of meaning accessible to Mary’s contemporaries and through them to posterity. Whilst modern critical methods tend to be unsympathetic to allegory, it pervades Enlightenment and post-Enlightenment literature. The tradition feeds into the poetic narratives of Shelley, Byron and the Lake poets, and the novels of Mary’s father, William Godwin. Artistically, therefore, it is to allegory that Mary’s story belongs.” (Hetherington) It should be noted that while she accurately discusses the possible allegorical meanings encompassing Shelley’s novel, these are concepts which are truly known only to the author. Ginn, on the other hand, analyzes the themes based on a more realistic approach. “The present paper will discuss all of these themes briefly. However, the major focus on the paper will be to briefly analyze Mary’s life from a psychosocial perspective” (Ginn)
Both authors can agree that Frankenstein was a very bold and vivid work of art. (La Belle Assemblee Magazine) This Ginn makes her observations and conclusions based on Shelley’s personal life, and how certain events and perspectives led her to the creation of Frankenstein. In a sense, both authors seem to agree that Shelley’s novel is autobiographical in the sense that elements of Shelley’s personal life contributed to the final novel. Neither author uses a disdainful approach in critiquing Shelley’s novel, but both credit the life of Mary Shelley as inspiration for elements of the novel. It is how they reach their individual conclusions that they contradict each other; while Hetherington uses allegorical meanings and possible perspectives from the author, Ginn discusses the people who influenced Shelley’s life, and also the events that shaped her into author of such a creative, morose work of fiction.
- Ginn, Sherry. “Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein: Science, Science Fiction, or Autobiography?” College of Liberal Arts and Sciences | The University of Florida, 2016, www.clas.ufl.edu/ipsa/2003/ginn.html. Accessed 30 Dec. 2016.
- Hetherington, Naomi. “Creator and Created in Frankenstein.” Frankenstein: The Pennsylvania Electronic Edition, 1997, knarf.english.upenn.edu/Articles/hether.html. Accessed 30 Dec. 2016.
- La Belle Assemblée Magazine. 2nd ed., J. Bell, 1818.
- Scott, Walter. Blackwood’s Edinburgh Magazine. 2nd ed., 1818.