Graduation Year

2008

Document Type

Thesis

Degree

M.A.

Degree Granting Department

English

Major Professor

Regina Hewitt, Ph.D.

Keywords

Gender, Walton, Lionel, Kristeva, Authorship

Abstract

Boundary and desire surround the relationships in Mary Shelley's Frankenstein and The Last Man. The narrative modes of Captain Robert Walton relate his separation to the rest of the world and his need for companionship. Yet, not any companionship will satisfy his longing for connection with a human being; his search revolves around the need of common understanding. This further separates the character of Lionel in The Last Man from humanity in that he is unable to find anyone left on earth after a series of plague, war, and atmospheric anomalies apparently wipe out the human race. His survival hinges on the desire to find someone, anyone, in which to share any mode of common experience. His struggles with loneliness finally culminate in his autobiography. Both Frankenstein and The Last Man deal with the issue of narrative and the bounds of human necessity for acceptance and companionship. Though both tales are from a male perspective, the gendered aspects of the stories further separate the characters in each novel. How each character is estranged by forces outside their control, and how they express this relationship between their internal selves and their outer selves, are at the core of each text. Through these ideas of boundary and belonging, this thesis will explore the relationships in Frankenstein and The Last Man.

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