"Why Did I Live"

A Comparative Study of the Depiction of Artificial Life in Mary Shelley's Frankenstein and Meredith Ann Pierce's The Darkangel Trilogy

Author

Summary, in English

This thesis studies how Mary Shelley and Meredith Ann Pierce criticise Western patriarchal societies through the depiction of the creation of artificial life. The thesis discusses how Shelley and Pierce’s critique consequently includes a critique of Humanism, since the school of thought had a pivotal role in the formation of the civilizational model of these Western societies. Steeped in anthropocentrism, Humanism places humans at the centre while it relies heavily on the binary opposition of self and other, human and animal, science and nature, male and female. Furthermore, due to speciesism, i.e. systematic prejudice on the basis of species, which is intrinsic to Humanism, nonhuman beings are consistently deemed inferior to humans. By giving the creations – i.e. the nonhuman “others” of society – a voice, Shelley and Pierce highlight the fluctuating boundary between human and nonhuman beings, thus showing the errors of Humanism’s essentialist definition of the human and challenging its speciesism. This thesis shows that Shelley and Pierce favour Post-humanist values since they focus on the inter-connectedness of all living beings and urge the importance of valuing the familial and communal, as well as different forms of life.

Topic

  • Languages and Literatures

Keywords

  • Mary Shelley
  • Meredith Ann Pierce
  • Humanism
  • Posthumanism
  • Anthropocentrism
  • Speciesism
  • Artificial Life

Supervisor

  • Birgitta Berglund (FD)