Roles of Women in Frankenstein by Mary Shelley

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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 by 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 contribute greatly to the passive role of women are the lower of rank women in society compared to men, women being seen as possessions for men to protect, and women admired for their superficial beauty.

To begin with, Victor describes how his mother, Caroline Beaufort, meets his father, Alphonse Frankenstein, after Caroline’s father died in poverty. Victor mentions, “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). Even though Caroline is younger than Victor’s father, she has no choice, but to marry him. Without marrying Victor’s father, Caroline will still be in poverty with nobody to support her. Caroline’s decision to marry Victor’s father symbolizes a woman in need of a man to protect her.

Furthermore, Caroline’s passivity is displayed when Caroline brings Elizabeth from the orphanage and asks her husband to make Elizabeth part of the Frankenstein family. Victor describes El...

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...n make her the strongest character in the “Frankenstein”, despite her minor role. Safie displays woman to speak up for her own rights, despite her lower rank in society.

Overall, women in “Frankenstein” are displayed unimportant to society compared to men. Besides being household servants and wives, women also play an important role in society like men. Shelley’s use of describing Safie going against the passive role of women compared to Caroline, Justine, and Elizabeth symbolizes how women should have the same rights like men such as getting an education, working in the medical field, and having their voices heard to others. Without the appearance of women in society, the workforce would be cut in half with men working and earning money for a living, and women taking care of children. Therefore, one should not forget that women are the backbone of our society.
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