Frankenstein : A Feminist Trope In Mary Shelley's Frankenstein

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Frankenstein is one of the most famous and adapted novels of all time, and many say that Mary Shelley invented the genre of science fiction through it’s creation, but can Frankenstein add feminism to its list of virtues? At first glance, it seems not. The novel focuses mainly on the conflict between two men, and the main female character in the novel, Elizabeth, falls into the classic gothic trope of the perfect, angelic heroine, who has little to no flaws or agency. Yet upon further examination, it is clear that Shelley parodies and builds on the trope of the perfect woman in order to expose the flatness of female characters in Gothic literature, ultimately giving Frankenstein a feminist tone. How do you know that Shelley does not use this trope sincerely? One indicator that Elizabeth is a parody of the Gothic woman is that her perfection is described lavishly and with hyperbole. When Victor first speaks of Elizabeth to Walton, he says, “I have often heard my mother say, that she was at that time the most beautiful child she had ever seen” (Shelley 20; 1818). Elizabeth is not simply beautiful, she is the “most” beautiful, and Mrs. Frankenstein thinks she is even more beautiful than her own children. Victor goes as far to say, “Everyone adored Elizabeth” (20), and later when he comes back from school because his brother has been murdered, he feels the need to digress from the horrors at hand and tell Walton that Elizabeth had grown into a beautiful young woman who

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