The Works of Philip Kaveny
Emergent Feminist Meta Ethics in though Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein: a Modern-Day Prometheus
In this presentation the presenter contends that, though Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein: a Modern-Day Prometheus is often read as a cautionary tale about the limits of knowledge and scientific investigation, and perhaps even a critique of the Enlightenment, it is also ripe for a deeper and perhaps more subtle feminist critical approach. The paper will demonstrate that it is in fact an early literary account of the development of a feminist Meta-ethical position, and argue that Mary Shelly in Frankenstein: a Modern-Day Prometheus problematizes the Augustinian sense of evil which contends that children are born evil into the world, thus there is no hope of redemption outside of the church, and further argues that the novel can be read through the apparently Anglican Episcopalian view on evil, that children are not born evil into the world, but rather, they come into evil in an evil world. Thus the monster is not evil by nature but rather made into a monstrosity by the monstrousness of the world. This observation brings to mind the position of the French feminist philosopher Simone de Beauvoir, who contended in her monumental work The Second Sex that woman is made not born. Might we not say the same about socially constructed monstrosity? Thus the novel is a critique of early 19th c. version of what was to be embodied by Jacques Derrida’s neologism phallogocentrism.