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Roles Of Women In Frankenstein Essay

1334 words - 6 pages

In “Frankenstein” penned by Mary Shelley, one cannot help but notice the role of women in the novel compared to men. Even though Mary Shelley is the daughter of Mary Wollstonecraft, a mother advocating for women’s rights in society, she displays the roles of Caroline, Elizabeth, and Justine as passive women. This may be the time period when women were considered inferior to men. Caroline, Elizabeth, and Justine are depicted as possessions for men, admired for their superficial beauty, and do not take action without the permission of men. On the other hand, Shelley illustrates Safie as a woman who speaks up for her own rights when her father forbids her to find Felix. The three points that ...view middle of the document...

Caroline’s vision of seeing Elizabeth as an orphan symbolizes her need to help Elizabeth, remembering to the time when Caroline’s husband had helped Caroline in the past. Without helping Elizabeth, Caroline will forget why her husband had helped her change from a poor girl to having a man to protect her. Through Elizabeth’s beauty and her status as an orphan, Caroline wants Elizabeth to join the Frankenstein family. However, as the wife of Alphonse Frankenstein, Caroline asks her husband to allow Elizabeth to join the family. By examining Caroline’s approval of Elizabeth becoming part of the Frankenstein family, we are reminded that, “With his [Victor’s father] permission my mother prevailed her rustic guardians to yield their charge to her” (Shelley 30).
Another example of a passive woman is Victor’s beloved cousin, Elizabeth Lavenza. Everyone in the Frankenstein family admires Elizabeth for her superficial beauty. In the article, “Sibling revelry in in Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein”, Leila Silvana May, mentions, “Elizabeth Lavenza, who becomes the “favourite” (p. 32) of Caroline, becomes Alphonse’s “more than daughter” (p. 146)” (669). Silvana’s use of the words “favourite” and “more than daughter” depicts how women, like Elizabeth, are admired for their superficial beauty to attract and become possessions for men. Through Elizabeth’s superficial beauty, Caroline uses Elizabeth as a “pretty present for my Victor – to-morrow he shall have it” (Shelley 31). Elizabeth transforms from an orphan with superficial beauty to becoming Victor’s possession.
Moreover, Elizabeth adores Victor, but due to Victor’s studies in college and Victor’s journey to England, Victor does not go home to see Elizabeth. Therefore, Elizabeth writes letters to Victor, symbolizing her way of communicating to him in spirit. In the letter that Elizabeth composes to Victor when he is sick, she states, “I have prevented his encountering the inconveniences and perhaps danger of so long a journey; yet how often have I regretted not being able to perform it myself” (Shelley 57). Elizabeth desires to understand how Victor is doing in college. However, as Victor’s possession, Elizabeth can only visit Victor under the approval of Victor’s father.
Also, in another letter that Elizabeth writes to Victor when Victor is in England, Elizabeth asks Victor if he has fallen in love with another woman. Elizabeth points out, “Tell me, dearest Victor. Answer me, I conjure you, by our mutual happiness, with simple truth – Do you love another” (Shelley 166). Due to Victor’s lack in response to Elizabeth’s letters, Elizabeth becomes worried about her love for Victor. Although Elizabeth comprehends her love for Victor during her childhood years, she has no right to prevent Victor to fall in love with another woman. Elizabeth’s role as Victor’s possession illustrates how only Victor can choose whether he wants Elizabeth or the other woman....

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