Role Of Women In Mary Shelley's Frankenstein And In Society

1548 words - 7 pages

In “Frankenstein” penned by Mary Shelley, the author depicts the roles of Caroline, Elizabeth, and Justine as passive women by taking action only through the men around them. During the 1820s, when Elizabeth Blackwell saw the deaths of many people on ships being thrown overboard, she became inspired to become a doctor. However, during her time period, women were not allowed to get an education. Finally, Mulan, takes the place of her old father to join the Chinese army, despite her passiveness. A closer look at the roles of Caroline, Elizabeth, Justine, Mulan, and Elizabeth Blackwell reveal a time period where women were treated as objects and followers by men.
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Elizabeth longs to understand how Victor is doing in his studies at Ingolstadt. However, since she is a woman and she is approved to become part of the Frankenstein family by “They [Victor Frankenstein’s parents] consulted their village priest, and the result was that Elizabeth Lavenza became the inmate of my parents’ house … (Shelley 30)”, she can only visit Victor Frankenstein under the approval of Victor’s father. Even though Victor cannot see his beloved Elizabeth, he realizes that through his first letter that she writes, she acts like a spirit in Victor’s mind waiting for him to come home by mentioning, “Get well – and return to us. You will find a happy, cheerful home, and friends who love you dearly” (Shelley 57).
In another letter that Elizabeth writes to Victor before Victor and his father leave from Paris to Switzerland, Elizabeth asks Victor if he has fallen in love with another person and waits for his reply in marriage. Elizabeth states, “Tell me, dearest Victor. Answer me, I conjure you, by our mutual happiness, with simple truth – Do you love another” (Shelley 166)? Although Elizabeth comprehends that she has been best friends with Victor during their childhood years, she has no role in preventing Victor from falling in love with another person. If Victor falls in love with another person, Elizabeth forfeits her love for Victor and allows Victor to choose to woman that he adores. In that same letter that Elizabeth composes to Victor, she points out, “But it is your happiness I desire as well as my own when I declare to you our marriage would render me eternally miserable unless it were the dictate of you own free choice.” Elizabeth desires to ask for Victor’s reply in marriage. Yet, she does not take action right away and waits for Victor’s response.
Similarly, Justine Moritz also plays her role as a passive woman as a household servant in the Frankenstein family and not being able to prove her innocence on the murder of Victor’s brother, William. In the article, “The Ghost of a Self”, Vanessa D. Dickerson describes Justine as, “an innocent, sensitive, beautiful and loving servant who is unjustly executed for the murder of little William Frankenstein” (85). Even though Justine is innocent from the murder of William, she cannot stand in the courtroom by herself and prove to the judges that she is innocent. Only, Victor’s appearance in court will prove her innocence on the murder of William. Elizabeth’s stance of Justine’s innocent is pointless. Examining Elizabeth’s trust on Justine’s innocence, we are reminded that, “I [Elizabeth] rely on her [Justine’s] innocence as certainly as I do upon my own” (85). When Justine realizes Victor’s unwillingness to prove her innocence she accepts her fate to execution. Justine states, “I do not fear to die,” she said; the pang is past. God raises my weakness, and gives me courage to endure the worst” (Shelley 78). She does not fear her death, since the evidence of locket that William...

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