Justine: An Unjust Characterization
The women in Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein do not seem to hold a very significant place in the novel. They are not given meaningful lines and we do not get to a lot of their back story. In fact, we not seem to know some of them at all, for example, Mrs. Saville, Walton’s sister (who happens to be the first female in the novel). She is basically a non-entity, only serving as a recipient of her brother’s letters. Generally speaking, Shelley’s female characters seem to be weak or live a short life. Victor’s mother is not long in the picture and she is described as an “indulgent” parent. The main female character, Elizabeth is very passive, and seems to bend to Victor’s will and timeline. Indeed, Victor does not put his trust in her because, in my opinion, he sees her as weak.
However, there is a female character who do not fit into the “weak woman” category: Justine Moritz. The literary element I will discuss is character, specifically how Justine is probably the strongest female character; she shouldn’t be characterized as weak, but as a victim of her own individual circumstance and the world she lived in.
We get some background information about Justine Moritz through a letter from Elizabeth to Victor, which establishes Justine’s unfair circumstance in life and explains how the people around her feel about her. She was her father’s favorite and when he died her mother, for some reason, did not treat her very well. Victor’s mother saw this and decided to take Justine in as a servant when she was twelve years old. Right away we see that Justine is mistreated by her own mother and then forced to be a servant to the Frankensteins at a young age. Clearly, the world she lived in was not fair, but this does not necessarily make her a weak character. Elizabeth describes Justine as “the most grateful little creature in the world…she thought her [Mrs. Frankenstein] the model of all excellence, and endeavored to imitate her...
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