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How Is Women Portrayed In Frankenstein

Decent Essays
During the 19th century, especially the Victorian era, the female sex had to face many injustices. Women were considered to be “inferior to the male and w[ere] looked upon as his ‘property’” (Taylor 464). They were just seen as “child-bearer[s]” (465) and could have “no career” (465). Moreover, they had “hardly any legal rights” (465). The role of the female sex consisted mainly of taking care of household and children. In 1818, Mary Shelley published her novel Frankenstein. Shelley is known as one of the “first modern feminist[s]” (Ferguson 427). Therefore, it could be assumed that she describes women as stronger and as more powerful than they were in the 19th century. But is that really the case in this gothic novel? This paper discusses…show more content…
In the beginning of the novel, the reader gets to know something about her outer appearance. Frankenstein admires her for the “hazel eyes” (Shelley 20) and her figure, which is “light and airy” (20). Furthermore, he describes her as “the most fragile creature in the world” (20) and declares that he loves to look after her, as he “should on a favourite animal” (20). These quotations show that Frankenstein likes the way his fiancée looks. On the one hand, the mentioning of her being a “fragile creature” (20) suggests, that the scientist feels the need to protect and shield her. On the other hand, he compares her to a “favourite animal” (20), which indicates, that Frankenstein does not recognize her as a human being. Therefore, it can be claimed that the scientist describes Elizabeth as beautiful, bus he also recognizes her as weak and inferior to…show more content…
For example, Elizabeth was not able to defend Justine in court. She tries to convince the judges by declaring that she “believe[s] and rel[ies] on [Justine’s] perfect innocence” (56). Nevertheless, Justine was sentenced to death. It seems like Elizabeth has no impact on the decision of the court at all. Finally, her try to protect her cousin from being accused is by no means successful, as her speech is not taken seriously by the court. Furthermore, in the end of the novel, the monster murders the scientist’s wife while her husband is waiting for it to appear, so he can kill it. In that moment, Elizabeth is “reduced to a simple tool of revenge” (Haddad). Instead of taking care of her, the scientist rather leaves his wife in their wedding night in order to kill his creation. As the issue to take revenge appears to be more important to Frankenstein than protecting his wife, the female protagonist “has become [just] another inert victim in this game of insanity and male-centered mayhem” (Haddad). Therefore, it can be said that Elisabeth is an example for the typical powerless and helpless woman of the Victorian
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