Women In Frankenstein

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Hayley Miller
Discuss the presentation of women in the novel
The women in Frankenstein are presented similarly to each other.
The women represent rage treatment of women in the early 19th
century. They are illustrated as unimportant as shown when Victor
dismisses Elizabeth so easily in order to focus solely on his creation.
This enhances the idea that women in the early 19th century were
treated as property and therefore had fewer rights than men. This
was due to the patriarchal society that developed as men were seen
as powerful figures in comparison to women who were submissive
and obedient.
One woman that we meet in the novel is Justine. Although Justine is
framed for the murder of William Frankenstein, she tells Elizabeth
that her professor `besieged me, he threatened and menaced, until I
almost began to think that I was the monster that he said I was'1 .
The fact the Justine's professor is able to make her confess to a crime
she hasn't committed, shows the passiveness of women at that time.
Another thing to notice is that her professor is a man, which shows
the dominant roles of men which are later heightened when we find
out that the judges were also men. This is key aspect of the
patriarchal society that was developing, as the men took on the
important roles in society. This resulted in women becoming
degraded, as shown when Justine says `I had none to support me'2 .
Another woman that we meet in the novel is Caroline, Victor's
mother. We only meet her briefly as we are soon to discover that she
sacrificed her life by aiding Elizabeth's recovery from scarlet fever.
Even though Caroline dies from the illness that she contracted from
Elizabeth, she remains gentle and she `died calmly, and her
countenance expressed affection even in death'3 . Just before she dies
she instructs that Elizabeth `must supply my place to my younger
children'4 . In doing this, Caroline is increasing the truth behind the
presumption that women should soley nuture their children, and be
`live in' mothers. Both Victor and Elizabeth are with her in her last
moments, yet she decides to tell Elizabeth to take her place rather
than Victor, despite the fact that Victor is her bio-logical son. This
shows that due to the pressure of society, women themselves had
begun to adopt the roles being set out for them.
Women, in the novels society, seem to be controlled by the male
characters. Due to Elizabeths calm and passive nature, Victor feels
he can `look upon Elizabeth as mine-mine to protect, love, and
Chapter 8 Mary Shelley's Frankenstein
Chapter 8 Mary Shelley's Frankenstein
Chapter 3 Mary Shelley's Frankenstein
Chapter 3 Mary Shelley's Frankenstein

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Hayley Miller
cherish'5 . Because of her initial submissiveness towards him, he
assumes that he can refer to her as a possession rather than a
human being who is capable of making their own decisions.
Anne Mellor reads the novel Frankenstein as `critiquing male
attitudes towards female sexuality'6. She supports this through her
close-readings of key scenes, including Victor's violent destruction
of the female creature. This scene shows how violent men are able to
be towards women.…read more


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