Feminst Influence

1380 Words6 Pages
In Mary Shelley's Frankenstein and Oscar Wilde's The Picture of Dorian Gray women are often portrayed as passive and weak characters. During the 19th century when these books were written, the proper domestic ideology was that women were naturally squeamish, defenseless, innocent beings, who needed protection from the male worlds of business and politics (Stepenoff). This theme is demonstrated throughout both of these novels through major and minor characters. In the case of Frankenstein, Shelley, who is a feminist herself, covers her book with submissive women who suffer calmly and eventually die. Similarly in Wilde's story, there are a few female characters that do not show much immediate importance, but they ultimately have a major impact on the story. Both authors portray their female characters as weak and passive, yet, despite their minor roles, these women strongly influence the men and greatly alter the course of events in each novel.

In Frankenstein, there are many women that are mentioned who seem to initially play minor roles. Elizabeth is one of the most important female characters and is the embodiment of the consistently passive woman in the novel. She is a great friend to Victor whom she is expected to marry someday. Elizabeth takes on conventional feminist ideals by acting out the role of a "good girl," but as the story goes, it seems that she is merely there to suffer and die (Williams). Elizabeth is helplessly waiting for Victors return from his tour of Europe. She sends Victor a friendly letter telling him of how much she wants him to come home. She is very intent on getting Victor back so she can marry him. Elizabeth's death by the creature changes Victor's character because he is so close to her...

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...n to negatively affect the lives of many throughout the story.

The female characters in both Frankenstein and The Picture of Dorian Gray prove to be important characters in the stories. Although they may not seem like they have much significance, the women characters initiate turning points in the plot. It is important in reading these novels not to pass over certain female characters no matter how minute their roles seem to be. In the case of Frankenstein, all of the innocence the women provided helped give detail to the destructive paths of Victor and the creature. In The Picture of Dorian Gray, Sibyl proved to be a major turning point for Dorian even though she appeared in the first half of the novel only to be a simple love interest of Dorian's. Through these stories the authors show the influence that women have on the world and their importance in life.
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