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Portrayal of Women in Frankenstein

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Hannah Johnson

on 29 October 2013

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Transcript of Portrayal of Women in Frankenstein

Portrayal of Women in Frankenstein
Justine
The girl accused of murdering William Frankenstein
Elizabeth
Victor's love interest in the novel
Caroline
Mother of Elizabeth - wife of Alphonse
Agatha and Safie
The women who live in the shack
The mere act of being framed for William's murder is a sign of passivity in this story.
Justine takes the punishment for a crime she did not commit because society told her it was what she should do.
She turns into a victim of consequence and inactive in the novel.
“But I have no power of explaining it…I am only left to conjecture concerning the probabilities by which it might have been placed in my pocket”
Wollstonecraft's Feminist Theory
Education
How They Connect
Elizabeth simply waits for Victor's attention during his creation of the monster.
This creates one of the most forefront examples of passivity in the novel.
Elizabeth is constantly "saved" by Victor and the Frankenstein family and never allowed to "save" herself
The idea of always having a man in a woman's life is common for the time period; however, it still entrenches gender normative thinking.
Caroline dies from Scarlet Fever which is commonly a disease that affects children.
The relevance of Caroline dying from Scarlet Fever has been questioned by feminist theorists as one of three things:
1) Simply a sign of the times.
2) Implying that the way a woman was treated was "childish."
3) A parallel between a mother and her child.
Caroline is widowed and soon after married to Alphonse
Caroline is another example as a woman that is always tied to a male counterpart.
Agatha is a young girl who tries to show compassion towards the creature.
She is an example of a passive female character who shows moral righteousness or purity that was common in the 1800's.
Safie is the converse of all the other characters.
1) Travels independently
2) Disobeys her male figure - her father
3) Works to educate herself through lessons on the language.
Safie is driven by love.
The only reason she travels to the village is to see Felix, her love.
Mary Wollstonecraft - Mary Shelley's mom - wrote one of the first pieces of feminist literature, entitled Vindication of the Rights of Woman.
Wollstonecraft claims that it is important for women to have an education parallel to their position in society. In the end, Wollstonecraft also suggests that the position needs to be broadened because women are crucial to the education of the children.
Marriage
Women were viewed as ornaments to society and basically property that could be traded by the institution of marriage. She suggests that women should be treated equally.
Intelligence
She says that women were portrayed as "spaniels" or "toys" to their male counterparts; however, she argues that it isn't because of a natural imbalance - it's the way that society raises women.
The themes of women in this novel are representative of norms that existed during the early 1800's. I feel as if the female characters in Frankenstein are portrayed as passive, overtly sensitive, and to an extent dumb. Wollstonecraft's writing didn't preach for equality in all realms; however, in Shelley's book she doesn't advocate for education of women or equality when it comes to moral actions. I don't think this means Shelley hated the feminist movement her mother started - I think it has something to do with her trying to write a story with realistic characters in the eyes of her readers.
Intelligence
Sensitivity
Morals
Morals
She also wrote about how women and men should be considered equal in areas like morality because men and women were held to the same regard in the eyes of God.
Masculinity
She would not be considered a modern feminist because she recognizes men as physically stronger and that men should continue their stance in the economy and society.
Sensitivity
Wollstonecraft wrote a scathing critique on the common thought that women were "too sensitive." She was the first author to bring this issue to print by saying society forces women into relying on their sensitivity.
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