The Arctic and Other Spaces in Mary Shelleys Frankenstein

Jacob Bachinger


This article reads the frame narrative of Mary Shelleys Frankenstein through the lens of Michel Foucaults theory of heterotopias. It begins by contextualizing Shelleys Arctic settings, and demonstrates that the Arctic was an issue in the news during the period when Shelley was working on the novel. It then surveys the critical literature on Shelleys narrative, in which her Arctic sequence is generally read as a condemnation of Britains imperialist policy toward northern exploration. Turning from those strictly historically inflected concerns, this essay analyzes Shelleys representation of Arctic and northern spaces, and especially Waltons icebound ship, as heterotopias. In doing so, it examines how Shelley represents the Arctic as an other(ed) space where Captain Walton hopes to transform himself from a failed poet to a renowned explorer. It also examines the relationship in Shelleys novel between these other(ed) spaces and narrative itself.


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