In “Frankenstein” penned by Mary Shelley, the author depicts the roles of passive women through the roles of Caroline, Elizabeth, and Justine. Caroline marries Victor’s father, Alphonese Frankenstein, despite the huge age difference between them, and gets approval from her husband to make Elizabeth part of the Frankenstein family. Elizabeth joins the Frankenstein family after Caroline takes her from the orphanage, has superficial beauty, and constantly writes letters to Victor, waiting for his return and his hand in marriage. Justine cannot prove her innocence in court without the appearance of Victor. On the other hand, Shelley depicts Safie as a woman willing to stand up for her religion, disobeying her father’s orders of going to Constantinople, and finds Felix. Through the portrayals of Caroline, Elizabeth, and Justine, women are depicted as possessions by men, admired for their superficial beauty, and do not take direct action without the appearance of men. However, Safie’s portrayal in “Frankenstein” symbolizes a woman who longs to have her own rights and a woman who goes against the role of passive woman.
To begin with, Victor describes how his mother, Caroline Beaufort, met his father, Alphonse Frankenstein after Caroline’s father died in poverty. Victor describes his father meeting his mother by stating, “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 to Geneva, and placed her under the protection of a relation” (Shelley 28). Caroline’s between her and Victor’s father, she has no choice but to marry Victor’s father. If Caroline did not marry Victor’s father, then she will still be a woman in poverty with no food and money to support her. Caroline’s decision to marry Victor’s father symbolizes a women in need of a man to protect her.
Caroline’s decision to help the children in poverty also represents her passivity. Victor states, “This to my mother, was more than a duty; it was a necessity, a passion – remembering what she had suffered, and how she had been relieved – for her act in turn the guardian angel to the afflicted” (Shelley 29). Caroline visualizes Victor’s father as a mirror inspecting her to see if she represents a wife willing to help others. When Caroline imagines Victor’s father as a mirror, she flashbacks to the time when she transforms from a girl in poverty to a woman with a husband to protect. Without helping the children in poverty, Caroline will forget why Victor’s father chooses to marry her.
When Caroline brings Elizabeth from the orphanage, she wants to make part of the Frankenstein family. However, due to her status as a woman and a wife of Alphonse Frankenstein, she has to ask her husband’s permission to make Elizabeth part of 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...