Romantic Reimaginings: Adapting Mary Shelley’s Female Monster

By Eleanor Bryan

Romantic Reimaginings is a BARS blog series which seeks to explore the ways in which texts of the Romantic era continue to resonate. The blog is curated by Eleanor Bryan. If you would like to publish an article in the series, please email

Today on the blog, Gracie Bain discusses the adaptive history of Mary Shelley’s Female Monster.

In Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein (1818), the female creature Frankenstein creates for his monstrous son is assembled but not animated. In a fit of regret and concern for humanity, Frankenstein rips her body apart—creating what is arguably the most explicitly violent scene in the novel. He suspects that she may become rational, or worse yet, willful: “She, in who in all probability, was to become a thinking and reasoning animal” (129). In the film, Bride of Frankenstein (1935), directed by James Whale, she is animated but destroyed by the male monster when she refuses him. Though she is the title character, the Bride’s only dialogue is her scream of terror/horror. I, like many others, was unhappy with the female monster’s portrayal. What happens when the Bride desires and wills? What exactly is it about the female body that provokes violence? It is my …read more