Danial Abufarha

Danial Abufarha

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  • Danial Abufarha
    Published 11 months ago
    The Commodification of Family Relations in Shelley's 'Frankenstein'

    The Commodification of Family Relations in Shelley's 'Frankenstein'

    In Elsie Michie's Marxist critique of Frankenstein, she discusses the consequences of capitalism on laborers. She argues the creation of the monster as a production, rather than creation, or as she calls it "imaginative creativity" (Michie 29). Further, she maintains that Victor portrays the exploited and estranged laborer in a capitalist system where everyone is taken advantage of for the sake of the capitalists, as she cites the alienation of Victor as an example of the bourgeoisie’s exploitation of the laborers. However, in light of Michie's analysis of the family, she merely discusses it in the context of alienation and separation, which according to her, stems from Victor's "obsessive involvement in the process of production" (Michie 28). She states that Victor is completely "cut off" from his family, and is entirely separated from society during the "production" of the creature, even after the conclusion of his product. She maintains that the creature is the culprit for "separating Victor from family [and] friends (Michie 28). This is how briefly she refers to the family in her article, neglecting crucial aspects of Marx and Engels analysis of the family, such as the commodification of family and social relations. She also argues that by portraying the monster's birth as an act of production, Mary Shelley is criticizing the belief of "imaginative creativity" advanced by the Romantic poets, including her husband Percy. In this paper, however, I argue that the family and social relations in the novel are, as Marx and Engels’ analysis of the family shows, commodified and divorced from sentimentality and compassion. This can be seen in the commodification of Elizabeth and Safie, and the Frankensteins's indifference towards Justine’s criminalization and execution.