Frankenstein, by Mary Shelley, is a famous novel about a scientist names Victor who creates a monstrous creature in a scientific experiment. It is easy to realize that men seem to be dominant throughout the story, and that all the main characters are male. As a result, women’s role in the book seems to be less important and significant to the story. Why did Mary Shelley, a daughter of a leading feminist who wrote the book A Vindication of the Rights of Women to express her belief that women should be treated equally, create such a book as Frankenstein, which portrayed women as inferior to men? The explanation lies behind the roles of those female characters of the book: Caroline Beaufort, Elizabeth Lavenza, Justine Moritz, and other women in the story.
One of the first female characters who are mentioned in the novel is Caroline Beaufort, Victor’s mother. The first impression of Caroline is that she “possessed a mind of an uncommon mould, and her courage rose to support her in her adversity. She procured plain work; she plaited straw and by various means contrived to earn a pittance scarcely sufficient to support life” (Shelley 18). Through these lines, it is clear that Caroline owns strong and independent characteristics. Despite this fact, however, Caroline is hindered to express herself throughout the story by her domestic life. As a daughter, she had to take care of her father and support him. After his death, she moved in with Alphonse and married him, becoming Alphonse’s wife. Finally, Caroline sacrifices her own life for Elizabeth, her dear adopted daughter. Caroline Beaufort appears to have no control and choices over her own life. She is domestic, kindhearted, and selfless; which are typical...
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...d Elizabeth, Safie has courage to stand up for what she believes is right and justice. As a result, she is the only female character in the novel that remains alive and live happily with her family (Knudsen).
As Gary Wiener stated in his book Bioethics in Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, “It is clear that Mary Shelley’s representation of women as restricted and defined in stereotyped female roles as mothers, daughters, and wives reflect aspects of the society”. However, at the same time, the women’s roles in Frankenstein also present an attempt to illustrate where the problem lies. Undoubtedly, Mary Shelley has intelligently defended and supported her mother’s belief of women rights and equality. There is no surprise why Frankenstein remains one of the most famous novels over centuries; its value is inestimable and will live forever through generation to generation.
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