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Frankenstein Feminism

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Brenda Paredes

on 5 December 2013

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Transcript of Frankenstein Feminism

Opening Question
Our Answer

Gender Roles
Ideal Woman
Victor and Dystopias
Discussion Question
Creature's View
Discussion Question
De Lacey
were written by a man
: Inhabit the public sphere, have a wide range of career opportunities, intellectuals
-Victor and Henry study at University

: Inhabit the private/domestic sphere, sentimental and weak

- Elizabeth stays at home, can’t travel with Victor when he goes to England
Why do you think the monster specifically asked for a female companion instead of another male?
How this all relates back
Elizabeth “regretted that she had not the same opportunities of enlarging her experience and cultivating her understanding.”
"Natural philosophy... became nearly my sole occupation. I attended the lectures... of the men of science of the university"
What is the monster's view on women in
"Frankenstein" ?
“The advocacy of women's rights on the grounds of political, social, and economic equality to men.”

Mary Shelley's mother, Mary Wollstonecraft, was the feminist author of "A Vindication of the Rights of Woman."
The monster has not been conditioned by society to have a certain view of women, and therefore he naturally sees them as equal to men

Shows a great amount of admiration and respect for Agatha and Safie, just as he does for Felix and De Lacey
The author's perspective might be similar to Victor's- the novel might not include Shelley’s disapproving tone and villainization of Victor
Monster’s point of view could be different- his view of women might be closer to that of Victor and the author
The character of Safie might not be included or might not be as strong
Instead of being a Gothic novel it would most likely stay Romantic
In his tabula rasa state the creature is able to learns a lot from women without having any preconceptions towards women.
-Agatha exemplifies human virtues
This environment that he idolizes is what nurtures the creature and develops his standards for women. This is why, what at that time was seen as weaknesses of the women kind, he sees as virtues of humanity in contrast to the harshness of the world.
-Safie is seen as a peer in learning and show the capabilities of women
Passive, Obedient, Compassionate , Delicate, Pretty , Dedicated , Self-sacrificing
-Represent a society that is based on equality, typical gender roles are not enforced
-Both Agatha and Felix share household duties
-"The generous nature of Safie was outraged by this command; she attempted to expostulate with her father, but he left her angrily, reiterating his tyrannical mandate." (Chapter 6, Volume 2)
-"When alone Safie resolved in her own mind the plan of conduct that it would become her tp pursue in this emergency."
-Safie is the sole feminist character in Frankenstein
-Goes against the wishes of her father
-Became "independent"
-Attempts to receive an education

-Victor’s attempts to manipulate nature and breach its boundaries reflects his view of women as passive and submissive to men
-Ultimately, Victor’s destruction stems from his misguided assumption that he can control nature
-Gothic and Romantic portrayals of nature show it as powerful both in destruction and in healing

“With unrelaxed and breathless eagerness, I pursued nature to her hiding-places.”
Caroline is devoted to her father, her husband and her children, ultimately dying after nursing Elizabeth to health.
“Agatha listened with respect, her eyes sometimes filled with tears, which she endeavored to wipe away unperceived”
Safie = Wollestonecraft
What does Victor truly fear about the female creature that would lead him to destroy her?
"Safie was always gay and happy; she and I improved rapidly in the knowledge of language, so that in two months I began to comprehend most of the words uttered by my protectors."
Victor makes a male creature, but destroys his female creation out of fear:
- He is afraid of an independent female will
- Afraid that her appearance may defy the aesthetic properties assigned to women
- For her reproductive powers
- Because of his fear of a sexually liberated woman
One of the deepest horrors in "Frankenstein" is Victor's unspoken goal of creating an all-male utopia
- Mary Shelley portrays the consequences of a single-sex dystopia

“This last blow overcame her; and she knelt by Beaufort’s coffin, weeping bitterly, when my father entered the chamber.
He came like a protecting spirit to the poor girl, who committed herself to his care, and after the interment of his friend he conducted her to Geneva, and placed her under the protection of a relation
. Two years after the event Caroline became his wife.”

Justine takes the blame for a crime she did not do and selflessly hopes the Frankenstein family will move on.

Victor on Elizabeth “I loved to tend on her as I should on a favorite animal.”
The discrimination faced by the monster parallels the injustices faced by women
-Safie is said to be the incarnation of Mary Wollstonecraft: both were encouraged towards education/intellectual pursuits and were allowed to have a voice in their respective societies/in the public realm
"He had sworn to quit the neighborhood of man, and hide himself in deserts; but she had not; and she, who in all probability was to become a thinking and reasoning animal, might refuse to comply with a compact made before her creation." (Chapter 20)
Video taken from Miss Representation: http://www. youtube.com/watch?v=NswJ4kO9uHc
Video taken from Mavaddat Javid: http://www. youtube.com/watch?v=N1oyIEgDWAQ
Video taken from TheEllenShow: http://www. youtube.com/watch?v=eCyw3prIWhc
Women are still facing some of the same gender roles and many of the same sexist, aesthetic properties required of women in 19th century Geneva, especially women in the media spotlight today.
Many attacks have been made on women in the media for not looking attractive enough and even for speaking out against injustice, like Wendy Davis. Hillary Clinton has received a huge new wave of attacks after it was speculated she might run for President in the 2016 elections.
Sexist jokes
Correlation of the word girl with weak
ex. The new Marine hats were labeled as girly
This caused embarrassment
Closing Question
Who has a more objective view of women, Frankenstein or the creature?
Full transcript