The Role of Women in Mary Shelley's Frankenstein Essay

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The Role of Women in Mary Shelley's Frankenstein Whether an author is conscious of the fact or not, a fictional work cannot avoid reflecting the political, social, economic, and religious background of the author. Therefore, regardless of Frankenstein's categorization being that of science fiction, Mary Shelley reveals her own fears and thoughts, and, as a result, reveals a great deal about the time and place in which she wrote. She mentions specific geographical locations throughout Europe, she raises ethical questions concerning the synthesis of life, and she writes in the context of popular contemporary philosophy and the importance of environment vs. experiences. Most importantly to this essay, however, is the…show more content…
Conversely, in parts that Shelley wrote herself, she says that book was conceived in a dream in which she saw a "pale student of unhallowed arts putting together the hideous phantasm of a man." She continues, "the idea so possessed my mind that a thrill of fear ran through me, and I wished to exchange the ghastly image of my fancy for the 'realities around.'" Ultimately, the entire story symbolically represents some of the pressures on a woman writer during the Romantic period in Europe and Shelley's critique of the culture that has created her but sees her as its "monster." Besides the representation of the author, the Romantic view of women is evident in the general weakness of the female characters throughout the story. There is only one main female character, Elizabeth Lavenza Frankenstein, the "more than sister" of Victor Frankenstein. In addition to the lack of women characters, Elizabeth is developed as kind, devoted, mild-mannered and sweet. Each of these adjectives could also be used to describe the other female characters, including Caroline, Victor's mother, Justine, Caroline's adopted child, and Agatha DeLacey, the neighbor's daughter. Additionally, women in nineteenth century Romantic Europe often catered to men, even if it was unbecoming to them (Kelly 220). Therefore, women's place is society is also represented in chapter six, in Elizabeth's letter to
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