Feminism in Frankenstein Essay Example

Date:  2021-12-20 19:36:16
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Responses to feminism issues have been adequately incorporated into the novel by Mary Shelley in various ways. Right from the author's attitude all the way to how she portrays women as taking a passive role is clear evidence that she did a lot of incorporation of the subject at hand. The various female characters she uses have different ways in which they show the feminism aspect. In the novel, women are playing minimal roles as compared to males, women are portrayed as possessions of men to protect, and Mary Shelley represents women as stereotypic. So, why did women not have power in Frankenstein?

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Role of Women in Frankenstein

Mary Shelley as already indicated gives women a passive role in the novel. She does not involve them actively as is the case with male characters such as Victor Frankenstein. For instance, the author's description of Elizabeth is one example that brings out the topic succinctly. She describes her in words such as fair, with hair that was the brightest living gold among others (Britton 1-11). The novel tries to make the reader have a positive image of her even before getting acquainted with her. As such, it is evident that women, irrespective of their personality, are attractive (Shelley et al.). The author shows how Victor regards Elizabeth as an object for pleasure rather than a human being with feelings. According to Victor, she was beautiful. This is seen as some affection exclamation.

Portrayal of Women in Frankenstein

Women characters are majorly mentioned as weak, and in some cases, they end up getting killed or demising. The writer tries to show that women possess ambiguity and they are full of conflicts. In patriarchal societies, she suggests that women are victims, for example, Caroline Beaufort. She is Victor's mother and a perfect victim of patriarchal societies. The circumstances that succeed the death of her husband are evidence enough. Caroline comes under the protection of Alphonse for a while before finally becoming his wife. By being her protector, the author depicts women as creatures who are unable to protect themselves (Shelley et al.). She portrays women as creatures that are ever in dire need of man's protection. Additionally, Justine Mortiz, a servant within the Frankenstein family, is blamed for Williams murder (Kevin). She as well out of fear wrongly confesses to a crime she did not commit. Justine is further executed after being found guilty in as much as she was innocent. She gets wrongly executed. Justine, a woman full of purity in her soul, has no one to defend her in the trial but when Victor is accused of murder, a lot of people support him.

Elizabeth Lavenza is another woman who brings out the aspect of obsession with feminism. She is also used passively through. Most of the time, the author shows her waiting for Victor to return. Shelley's portrayal of Elizabeth is that of her being obsessed with Victor. She portrays her as being in need of Victor and wouldn't survive without him. Death befalls Elizabeth due to the actions of Victor. Instead of Victor paying for his mistakes, Shelley chooses to make the woman pay for his shortcomings.

Role of Maternal Women in Frankenstein

Frankenstein manages to animate life from parts of dead bodies. The one power that women solely held in a given society is taken away. He gives life to the monster and then abandons her for feeling that she is disgusting. This can be attributed to masculine walls within the Geneva society. Victor shows less affection for the female monster. He, later on, destroys the second creature he creates out of some fears. He assumes that since she is a woman, her first desire would be to have children, which enhances his worries. In this case, feminism is defined by the possibility of the monster being a mother (Britton 1-11). Victor wants to create things on his own without anyone's assistance or involvement, especially a woman. He, therefore, fears that the female monster might reject the creature's plan for her and develop her kind of thinking. Practically, women are viewed as having the function of motherhood and are not supposed to have other functional desires.

The female gender is portrayed in a sympathetic light. Elizabeth Lavenza is described as docile and good-tempered. It also says she is gay and playful. This demeans the role of Elizabeth. The modern Victoria woman is given the sole duty of tending to her husband and family. Shelley further shows the significance of the feminine gender, especially as maternal figures. Victor Frankenstein himself claims that his parents are just the best (Collings 66-68).


The novel dismisses the roles played by women in society. For instance, Shelley strongly reiterates her mothers thoughts, Mary Wollstonecraft. This woman advocated for women education. When Victor creates life without the inclusion of a female, it shows that the role of women is dismissed. Mary Shelley's mother passed away after giving birth to her. This could provide a clear explanation for the many allusions of missing mothers in the novel.

In her entire novel, Mary Shelley has a feeling that women are victims of a patriarchal society. The way women get punished for doing men is rather unfair, and that is what women in the novel and the 18th Century faced. The author has managed to develop the theme of feminism in her work by using different characters satisfactorily.

Works Cited

Britton, Ronald. "Mary Shelley's Frankenstein: What Made The Monster Monstrous?." Journal of Analytical Psychology 60.1 (2015): 1-11. Web.

Collings, Tanya. "Frankenstein and Feminism: Contemplating the Memoirs of Elizabeth Frankenstein." Anthropology of Consciousness 22.1 (2011): 66-68. Web.

Kevin, Catherine. Feminism And The Body. Newcastle: Cambridge Scholars, 2009. Print.

Shelley, Mary Wollstonecraft et al. Frankenstein. Detroit: Lucent Books, 2010. Print.

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