These Frankenstein Women

How does Mary Shelley describe her women when in Frankenstein? Can this be digested from the text? What information can we gather from just the first half of Frankenstein? Women in Shelley’s work are very loving and innocent. For instance Victor’s mother, Caroline, extends her kind heart with the adoption of the Elizabeth and Justine into the Frankenstein family. On the other hand, women in Frankenstein are also passive throughout her writing. For example, Alphonse is described as “a protecting spirit to the poor girl [Carline], who committed herself to his care.”

The women usually remain “silent” through the tale of Frankenstein. Even when the women speak, their voices do not carry any weight. For example, this is evident when Justine is accused of murdering William Frankenstein, who was actually killed by the monster. Even though Justine says she is innocent she knows her voice is not being heard. In response, Elizabeth attempts to stand up for Justine’s innocence. Just the same, Elizabeth voice goes unheard. Shelley allows only the voice of Victor (the voice of a man) to save Justine. At the moment Victor feels guilty because he is responsible for creating the monster that killed his brother William. One would think, Victor would use this opportunity to undo his guilt by saving a life from death (women’s life). But this would mean Victor would have to admit he was responsible for the entire incident. Being the prideful (and shameful) man he is, Victor decides not to speak up and watches Justine face her conviction. Being the helpless women she is, Justine confesses to the murder and is put to death. Victor actions (more like lack of actions), portrays Justine’s death as a sacrifice. Victor makes the selfish decision to sacrifice Justine for cover up his own mistakes.

Since women do not have much influence in making decisions in their lives or others’, why do we need them? One might say, “We need them for reproduction!” Well, Shelley has a clever response to this in Frankenstein. In fact, Victor proves us wrong by being the first guy who reproduces without the need for a woman. How so? He creates a man! Well, there we go. What role do women have in Frankenstein based on the first half of the story?  None!…other then for sacrifice. However, I suspect the second half Frankenstein will provide a different analysis.


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