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mortal immortal - Laura Allen Dr Creevy EN 2223 21 February...

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1Laura Allen Dr. Creevy EN 2223 21 February 2008 A Transformation of Societal Norms Mary Shelley’s The Mortal Immortal, while a heart-breaking story, serves as a satire of the gender ideals and relations of the time period. Because the immortal main character is a male, society’s ideals of the patriarchal system are first established. However, through Winzy’s feeble character and his ability to be easily motivated and persuaded by a woman, Winzy represents an exaggerated truth of the vulnerability of men. The importance of female beauty and physical nature is also questioned through this story as Bertha only finds true freedom through an escape from her aristocratic and feminine lifestyle. This traditionally feminine obsession with vanity, however, is transferred to Winzy as his immortality imprisons him and renders him incapable of achieving freedom, even at the height of his desires. Shelley’s assignment of an immortal male character primarily gives the power to the men within the story. The main character has achieved a seemingly ultimate goal and Cornelius, another male, is the possessor of the knowledge that caused its creation. Thus, Winzy becomes the physically superior male in the story, while Cornelius becomes intellectually superior and this sets up a patriarchal hierarchy for the characters. As a contrast to this male supremacy of mind and body, the women are treated simply as pieces of artistic value and have very little merit elsewhere. When first speaking of his love for Bertha, Winzy describes her as a “dark-haired girl” and goes on to speak only of her family life (962). Winzy fails to mention Bertha’s
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intellectual characteristics, but instead focuses solely on her physical self and dependency of others. This contrast in the focus upon each gender provides a patriarchal set up for the opening portion of the story.
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