Mary Shelley's Frankenstein

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In Mary Shelley’s novel, Frankenstein, the author characterizes each and every woman incorporated in the story as acquiescent, passive and serving a utilitarian purpose. Important female characters such as Justine, Safie, and Elizabeth, undoubtedly provide a pathway of action primarily for the male characters in the story. The events that take place and the trials and tribulations they go through in the story usually happen for the sole purpose of teaching a male character a lesson or initiating an emotion within the male. Each woman created by Shelley in Frankenstein serves a definitive purpose. Although Mary Shelley illustrates her female characters as fragile and left to make minimal decisions independently, they still show feminist characteristics such as responsibility and individualism. The limited female roles in the story may be a reflection of the societal theories at the time. Men in the story such as Walton and Victor Frankenstein go on quests in search of success, experience, and knowledge. However, the women are detained in the house and are kept apart from the male dominion where intellectual activity is plentiful. Shelley’s alienation of the female characters portrays the repercussions of a societal structure that cherishes males over females. The women in Frankenstein play no roles that directly influence the plot of the novel. The female characters are forced to be submissive, a trait that illustrates their compliance towards men. Victor treats Elizabeth as a possession instead of a human being and believes that any compliment she receives is solely derived from his doing. Elizabeth begins acting submissive around Victor and accepts that she has fewer rights. Victor begins to describe her as a possession and st... ... middle of paper ... ...ters: Critical Studies of the Major Authors from the Early Nineteenth Century to the Present Day. Ed. Richard Bleiler. 2nd ed. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1999. 681-688. Scribner Writers on GVRL. Web. 2 Mar. 2014. Mellor, Anne K. "Shelley, Mary (1797-1851)." British Writers: Supplement 3. Ed. George Stade. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1996. 355-373. Scribner Writers on GVRL. Web. 2 Mar. 2014. Shelley, Mary Wollstonecraft. Frankenstein. New York: Bedrick/Blackie, 1988. Print. Turgeon, Carolyn. "Frankenstein." World Literature and Its Times: Profiles of Notable Literary Works and the Historical Events That Influenced Them. Joyce Moss and Lorraine Valestuk. Vol. 3: British and Irish Literature and Its Times: Celtic Migrations to the Reform Bill (Beginnings-1830s). Detroit: Gale Group, 2001. 145-153. Gale Virtual Reference Library. Web. 2 Mar. 2014.
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