Feminism: literary discussion/debate, relationship between literature & subordination experienced by women in role of writers, readers & fictional characters within a patriarchy. Brings to light the issue of infidelity to female experience within literature.
The Novel in General
Exhibits the typical attitude of women towards women, and of men towards women.
Contribution of historical/social factors is pivotal: written in 19th Century, period in which women conditioned into belief that they need men.
Shelley's portrayal of passive, inferior women in ironic given she is the daughter of Mary Wollstonecraft, radical feminist.
- takes on role of mother following death of Caroline (Victor's mother) by scarlet fever
- she is portrayed as the perfect woman represents domestic bliss/harmony rejected by Frankenstein in his "pursuit of knowledge"
- we feel little/no sympathy for Elizabeth when murdered as she is given a secondary role, with little narrative voice and no direct speech
- Elizabeth is used as a tool to 'magnify' Victor's selfish character:
e.g. "my more than sister, since till death she was to be mine only."
"I...looked upon Elizabeth as mine - mine to protect, love, and cherish."
- Signals relationship between the monster and Frankenstein, the monster seeking revenge on Frankenstein, kills Elizabeth instead.
Caroline Beaufort - Frankenstein's Mother
- She too assumes role of mother and nurse when Justine becomes ill, sacrificing her own health knowingly in order to care: e.g. "Elizabeth was saved, but the consequences of this imprudence were fatal to her preserver."
Can we assume that this is Shelley's attitude? That the role of the woman is as a mother?
- Her death demonstrates society's view of women as insignificant, Caroline is easily discarded, performs her role as a mother and then perishes.
- The female ideal: represents virtue.