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The Inferiority of Women in Frankenstein by Mary Shelley

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The Inferiority of Women in Frankenstein, Romantic Times and Today
In the book Frankenstein by Mary Shelley, the women are portrayed as inferior to men in several different ways. Of the few female characters in this book, very few of them are mentioned throughout the entire book and none of them are considered main characters. The ideals of Romanticism emphasize the secondary nature of women to men. In addition, Shelley’s portrayal of the inferiority of women parallels Romantic ideals and some of today’s values but also contrasts some values of today’s society. Shelley uses these Romantic ideals in Frankenstein because all of the female characters are clearly subordinate and secondary to the male characters throughout the story.
Shelley projects the Romantic ethics of the inferiority of women in the female characters in Frankenstein. First off, of the three narrators in the book, not one of them is female. Shelley made this choice to express the belief that the women of this time period were believed to not be intelligent enough to voice their opinions and that men have a more important position in society. This belief is also expressed through the lack of letters from Margaret Saville to Walton. Margaret receives several letters from Walton about his travels so it is only logical to assume that she would reply, however Shelley does not offer her responses to the reader, nor does Walton acknowledge them in his letters. Margaret is used solely for the purpose of a way of Walton to express his feelings. The lack of acknowledgement of these letters emphasizes the triviality of a woman’s role in a man’s life. In addition, as Walton becomes better acquainted with Victor, he gets less affectionate and informative in his lett...

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...to women, however today’s society also has some contrasting ideals.
Mary Shelley depicts the Romantic ideal of inferiority of women in Frankenstein. These ethics can be compared and contrasted with values of today’s society. Shelley had all male narrators to accentuate the belief of male superiority. The female orphans of the story portray the assumption that women are helpless and the lack of letters from Margaret emphasizes the essential worthlessness of a woman’s opinions. Finally, the female presence in the workforce contradicts Romantic ideals, however housewives and male proposals parallel the ideals Shelley uses in Frankenstein. The Romantic ideals that women are secondary to men are expressed throughout Frankenstein as well as in Romantic times and today.

Works Cited
Shelley, Mary. Frankenstein. New York: Signet Classics, 1963. Print.
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