Women in Frankenstein

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4. How are women’s roles and male attitudes toward women portrayed in Frankenstein?

In her novel Frankenstein, Mary Shelley portrays all of her female characters from both positive and negative perspectives. Writing the novel in the early 19th century, Shelley addressed the common stereotypical view of women as inferior to men that society of the time held. Dominated by male narrators, the female’s perspective is ignored in the novel. By excluding the female’s perspective of Frankenstein, Shelley reinforces in the reader the message that society of the time attributed very little to women. In addition to that, the firm ideas that women should be dependent on males, to be taken care of and having little potential to achieve anything independently, resonates in several of her characters. Resonating with other characters, the readers are able to see that women are weak-minded, feeble characters who become easily influenced. This trend can be seen throughout Frankenstein with characters such as Caroline Beaufort, Elizabeth Lavenza, and Justine Moritz, who all played less substantial roles compared to the males in the story. Shelley portrays the persistent feminine strength in her female characters through the small triumphs of Caroline Beaufort, Elizabeth Lavenza and Justine Moritz, however Shelley acknowledges how weak minded and dependent they become in the face of adversity and their lack of control over certain situations.

Shelley is able to show that Caroline Beaufort is able to sustain herself financially, however Shelley brings the reader to the harsh reality that she must sooner or later be dependent on a man. Shelley states, “…there was no other prospect of support. But Caroline Beaufort possessed a mind of an uncommon mold, and her courage rose to support her in her adversity.” (p.28). When Caroline’s father was on the brink of death, she contained herself emotionally and made ends meet in her household financially. However, Caroline’s momentum died...
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