Othering Frankenstein Essay

1887 Words Aug 19th, 2013 8 Pages
The concept of ‘other’, and the act of ‘othering’ is a powerful idea used in many literary texts to in order to construct meaning. The use of othering is apparent in the novel, Frankenstein, written by Mary Shelley and published in 1818. Embracing both the Romantic and Enlightenment context of its time, Frankenstein is a masterfully crafted novel which seamlessly explores a variety of themes and ideas. In the text Shelley uses the process of othering to explore the ideas of somatic alterity, class, and gender as aspects of othering. Shelley’s exploration of these ideas allows for various readings of the text, including post-colonialist, Marxist, and feminist critiques. These ideas and readings are also seen within the text Othello …show more content…
The character of Justine is one of those who represent the proletariat, as she works as housekeeper for the wealthy Frankenstein family. She is accused of murdering William, who was in reality murdered by the Creature created by Victor Frankenstein. Victor is aware of this, having seen “the filthy daemon” when he arrived at the area his brothers body was found, however he does not come to the aid of
Justine. Instead, he believe “the tortures of the accused do not equal mine.” Justine is in a perilous situation and faces death should she be convicted of the murder of William, however Victor refuses to speak up in her defence. As the bourgeois he enjoys the privilege of indulging in his own self-pity, while Justine is forced to face trial for a crime she did not commit. Although he says that his confession would be seen as “the ravings of a madman”, his refusal to come forward even after her conviction shows a devaluation of her life as not worth enough to reveal the creature. After her death, he continues to believe he is faultless, stating “I was guiltless”.
A Marxist reading of Justine as the proletariat and Frankenstein as the bourgeois reflects a frightening imbalance of power contextual to Mary Shelley’s time. This power imbalance allows Victor to devalue Justine’s life as being less

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