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'Hellish Sport: Irony in "Frankenstein"' / Steven Vine

Q/W/E/R/T/Y, Volume: 3, Pages: 105 - 114

Swansea University Author: Vine, Steven

Abstract

The essay maps the sexual politics of Mary Shelley’s 'Frankenstein' on to the sexual politics of Freud’s theory of the ‘dirty’ joke in 'Jokes and their Relation to the Unconscious'. It notes that reviewers and critics of 'Frankenstein' have drawn attention to the novel’...

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Published in: Q/W/E/R/T/Y
Published: 1993
URI: https://cronfa.swan.ac.uk/Record/cronfa17974
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Abstract: The essay maps the sexual politics of Mary Shelley’s 'Frankenstein' on to the sexual politics of Freud’s theory of the ‘dirty’ joke in 'Jokes and their Relation to the Unconscious'. It notes that reviewers and critics of 'Frankenstein' have drawn attention to the novel’s involvement in grotesquery, mockery and irony. Within the narrative, Victor Frankenstein feels himself to be the victim of the monster’s ‘hellish sport’ - in his mockery of Victor’s love and longing through his murderous quest for revenge. The essay argues that the antagonistic, mocking contest between Victor and the monster enacts a sexual politics of male bonding and rivalry that echoes Freud’s scene of the dirty joke: a scene in which rival males join in desire for and repudiation of an excluded woman. 'Frankenstein' enacts this structure of male bonding and the elimination of woman: the latter becomes the butt of aggressive laughter in the Freudian ‘joke,’ and of monstrous eradication in the narrative of 'Frankenstein'.
College: College of Arts and Humanities
Start Page: 105
End Page: 114