The Character of Safie in Mary Shelley's Frankenstein

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The Character of Safie in Frankenstein Even though she is only mentioned in Mary Shelley's Frankenstein for a relatively brief period, the character, Safie, is very interesting as she is unique from the other characters in that her subjectivity is more clearly dependent on her religion and the culture of her nation. Contrasts can be made between the Orient and the European society which attempts to interpret it. Often, this creates stereotypes such as western feminists that have viewed "third-world" women as "ignorant, poor, uneducated, tradition-bound, religious, domesticated, family oriented, (and) victimized"(Mohanty 290). Of course, some of these things could also have said of European women of the time period, although no one would argue the point since Oriental women were viewed as being more oppressed. Strong contrasts can also be made in relation to the differences between Safie's development as a foreign character and her subjectivity as a female character in relation to those of the other female characters of the book. While the other female characters lack depth into how their religion and culture affect them, Safie's religion and Arabian culture sculpt her into a subject with feminist qualities juxtaposed against her fulfillment of European domestic ideology. Many theorists, such as Benveniste who said, "Consciousness of self [or subjectivity] is only possible if it is experienced by contrast," argue that one's subjectivity can only exist in their relation to the Other(85). The subject's relation this "Other" depends on which aspect is being examined. For example, when dealing with gender, it would be the relationship between Man and... ... middle of paper ... ...it fulfilled the domestic ideology of the European society. The society itself was phallogocentric and, by nature, riddled with its own subjectivity, such as the Orientalism inherent in Europe, which attempted to examine the Orient which had "a brute reality obviously greater than anything that could be said about them in the West"(Said 304). Works Cited Beneviste, Emile. "Subjectivity in Language." Course Reader. 83-88 Mohanty, Chandra Talpade. "Under Western Eyes: Feminist Scholarship and Colonial Discourses." Course Reader. 289-300 Said, Edward W. "Introduction to Orientalism." Course Reader. 303-312 Shelley, Mary. Frankenstein. Ed. Johanna M. Smith. Boston: Bedford Books, 1992 Smith, Johanna M. "'Cooped Up': Feminine Domesticity in Frankenstein." Bedford Books, 1992 270-285
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