An examination of Patriarchy in Mary Shelly's Frankenstein.

1864 Words Mar 19th, 2004 8 Pages
Elizabeth, the Monster and Patriarchy.

In Mary Shelley's Frankenstein, some blatant parallels are made between Dr. Frankenstein's adopted sister, Elizabeth, and the monster he created. Both of these innocent creatures, together represent all of mankind in their similarities and differences, Elizabeth being the picture of womanhood and goodness, the monster representing manhood and evil. Both Elizabeth and the monster belong to and structure their lives in terms of Dr. Frankenstein, leading to overall destruction and, ultimately demonstrating the dangerous properties of patriarchy, which Dr. Frankenstein embodies.

Dr. Frankenstein begins his narrative, most logically, in telling the story of his childhood.

Dr. Victor Frankenstein's
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During the time in which Dr. Frankenstein is away from home, studying in the University, he receives a multitude of letters from the longing Elizabeth, and replies to none. Elizabeth remains at home in Switzerland, fulfilling her womanly duties to the Frankenstein family, her only hope for future happiness lies in her marriage with Victor, for she is nothing without him. The power that Dr. Frankenstein holds over Elizabeth has striking similarities to the dynamic of power he described as desiring over his creations. The pattern of neglect that Frankenstein demonstrates first with Elizabeth, then with the monster does not seem to phase their unconditional, and unreasonable, love for him. Dr. Frankenstein does not think of Elizabeth as an equal, for she is a woman, and he does not think of the monster as even a man, for he created him. Within a Patriarchy, the government feels justified in its neglectful actions for it feels itself better than the women and low lifes over which it rules. Just as a population allows their government to proceed with its cruel deeds without question, so do Elizabeth and the monster initially turn a blind eye to the evil acts of Dr. Frankenstein.

Elizabeth and the monster are not only similar in their actions relative to Dr. Frankenstein, but both seem to occupy quite the opposite end of the spectrum of humanity.
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