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Transcript of GENDER ROLES
EXPLORE HOW THE THEME OF GENDER ROLES APPEARS IN THE NOVEL
Science is presented as masculine
“scientists penetrate into the recesses of nature, and show how she works in her hiding-places”
Men usurp the female role
“in a solitary chamber, or rather cell, at the top of my house”
Science destroys nature and women
Ends in him destroying the female monster
“I tore to pieces the thing on which I was engaged”
Women are passive and oppressed
“I am resigned to my fate”
Men are power-hungry
“men appear to me as monsters thirsting for each others’ blood”
Context - AO4
Mother - Pioneering feminist Mary Wollstonecraft
Exemplar essay paragraph
‘In Frankenstein, the majority of the women in the novel are confined to restrictive gender roles.’
How far and in what ways do you agree with Shelley’s presentation of gender roles?
Most female characters in the novel lack influence, and often fit into assigned gender roles. For example Caroline is the traditional care giving mother that peacefully submits to death, highlighting her lack of power. This is shown through the quotation ‘I will endeavor to resign myself cheerfully to death’, which uses the word ‘endeavor’ almost ironically as it shows a female character in an active role, however all she is doing is ‘resigning’ herself to death. The use of the word ‘cheerfully’ is also an odd juxtaposition to the fact she is dying, and it makes it seem like women are just expected to be content, no matter the circumstances. This draws parallels to the character of Justine, who also says ‘I am resigned to the fate awaiting me’, which uses the idea of fate ‘awaiting’ her to further this idea of passivity amongst women. The gender roles in the novel are outlined by Anne Mellor where she says ‘Inside the home, women are either kept as a kind of pet or they work as housewives, child-care providers, and nurses’. This shows the restrictions that women face in the novel, and explains their lack of active moments in the novel. When Frankenstein was written, many of these gender roles were imposed on women in society, rendering them second class citizens. Perhaps Shelley does this so obviously to bring attention to these injustices, which is reinforced by the fact her mother Mary Wollstonecraft was one of the first feminists.
Nature is presented as feminine
Professor Waldman "His persons was short, but remarkably erect; and his voice was the sweetest I had ever heard."
Anne K. Mellor:
“Frankenstein substitutes solitary paternal propagation for sexual reproduction”
“the novel articulates a confrontation between a scientific pursuit seen as masculine and a feminine nature”
“I will resign myself cheerfully to death”
“my trifling occupations take up my time and amuse me”
Gilbert and Gubar
“Shelley’s monster is as nameless as a woman in a patriarchal society”
“Elizabeth is literally sacrificed on the altar of his ambition”
“to me the idea of an immediate union with elizabeth was one of horror and dismay”
“her bloodless arms and relaxed form flung by the murderer on her bridal bier”
Author of 'A Vindication of the Rights of Women' 1792
Died 10 days after Mary's birth
Gilbert and Gubar,
Shelley's monster is "as nameless as a women in a patriarchal society. As nameless as unmarried, illegitimately pregnant Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley may have felt herself to be at the time she wrote Frankenstein."
"beheld my emaciated frame"
Romantic movement - progressive social causes; social equality, liberty end to slavery.