Presentation Title

Beauties and Beasts: Physical Appearance and Monstrous Neglect in Frankenstein and Persuasion

Presentation Type

Oral Presentation

School

School of Arts and Humanities

Discipline

English

Mentor

William Stroup

Abstract

In the eyes of many literary scholars, it seems that there are no two authors more politically and stylistically opposed to one another than Jane Austen and Mary Shelley. Yet two of their novels, which were composed at the same time 200 years ago, share one overlapping theme: the dangers of neglectful parenting. In both Austen’s conservative social comedy, Persuasion (1818), and Shelley’s novel of gothic horror, Frankenstein (1818), a child suffers neglect at the hands of a father figure who is preoccupied with a very specific standard of beauty. Using a close reading of each novel (as well as analysis from such scholars as Anne Mellor, Sandra Gilbert, Susan Gubar, and Linda Bree) this presentation will explore the similarities and differences between two authors and their narratives of parenthood and care. The largely unobserved commonalities between the two will hopefully demonstrate the importance of narratives of neglect, in the Romantic era as well as today.

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Beauties and Beasts: Physical Appearance and Monstrous Neglect in Frankenstein and Persuasion

In the eyes of many literary scholars, it seems that there are no two authors more politically and stylistically opposed to one another than Jane Austen and Mary Shelley. Yet two of their novels, which were composed at the same time 200 years ago, share one overlapping theme: the dangers of neglectful parenting. In both Austen’s conservative social comedy, Persuasion (1818), and Shelley’s novel of gothic horror, Frankenstein (1818), a child suffers neglect at the hands of a father figure who is preoccupied with a very specific standard of beauty. Using a close reading of each novel (as well as analysis from such scholars as Anne Mellor, Sandra Gilbert, Susan Gubar, and Linda Bree) this presentation will explore the similarities and differences between two authors and their narratives of parenthood and care. The largely unobserved commonalities between the two will hopefully demonstrate the importance of narratives of neglect, in the Romantic era as well as today.