The role of women and sexuality in Frankenstein

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The role of women in Frankenstein is very interesting, some seem absent, others appear to be passive and some are stronger than we might first think.

In Gothic literature women are usulayy presented in two ways-the typically meek and passive mother-like characters and then the femme fetale characters.What is interesting about Frankenstein is that the eponymous character is presented as a mother.

The creation-is Victor a mother?

When analysing the role of women within the novel, it is crucial to acknowledge the possibility of subverting the gender roles ie- Victor becoming a mother.

Some argue that the creation is presented as a scientific experiment, however there is evidence to suggest that Shelley presented the creation as more of a symbolic 'birth'. The evidence for the birth interpretation isn't subtle; Victor refers to his work as his "midnight labours", he mentions "confinement" (which in Shelley's time was a word often used to refer to a room where women would give birth - AO4), and he uses the word "conceive" ambiguously. Furthermore, the "watery eyes" and "yellow skin" appears to relate to the state and condition of a newborn child with jaundice. Victor is violating natural order by becoming a 'mother' unnaturally.

Also, Victor's role as a 'mother' directly contrasts the role his mother had - she is presented as a doting maternal figure who is just killed off when her function as a plot device is done. Victor says that;

"I was ... the innocent and helpless creature bestowed on them by Heaven"

Now this obviously links to Victor's role as the parent to the creature. The creature is - literally - the "innocent and helpless creature" and is bestowed upon Victor - but by Heaven? Not quite. Perhaps that's what separates the two - Victor is heaven-sent, he's conceived naturally, but the creature is born out of experimentation and ambition.
So in terms of how women/mothers are presented, you can still find a way to get a main character in there. It's very Gothic in nature to make your male protagonist a sort-of-mother, what with exceeding boundaries and highlighting extremes of behaviour. Elizabeth
Elizabeth Lavenza is first introduced to us in chapter one, and it's fair to say that she's set up as a typical passive woman in terms of Gothic archetypes.However, there is evidence to suggest that there is perhaps something a little extraordinary about Elizabeth, and some critics argue that Victor's fascination with her as a child leads to his creation - perhaps it's his way of recapturing such beauty.

There's lots to talk about in terms of language for Elizabeth. There's a lot of religious imagery used to describe her:

"a being heaven-sent"   "bearing a celestial stamp in all her features"   "pictured cherub" This is interesting because later on in the novel the creature speaks to Victor as though he is some sort of vengeful God, "I ought to be thy Adam..." . It highlights Victor's


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