Supporting Role of Women in Frankenstein Essay
Since the origination of humans in the form of men and women, stereotypical and realistic views, about who is the dominant sex are always discussed. In most of the societies, women are mostly portrayed as the less-dominant sex, and stereotyped as individuals, whose only purpose in life is getting married, performing the role of a docile housewife and a caregiver to the children. This view could be due to reasons like male dominant attitude, suppressing of a girl’s freedom by her own parents, society, etc, etc. This inferior image of women also got reflected in the fictional works as well. That is, apart from the few fictional works (which have portrayed women as strong characters), in many of the works, female characters are only portrayed as supporting cast for the male central characters. So, this paper will analyze how the women characters in Mary Shelly’s Frankenstein only play a subdued presence
Frankenstein, a novel of the horror genre, was written by the British author Mary Shelly and was published in 1818. It tells the story of an adventurous scientist who creates a ‘human’ of his own, which turns out to be a monster, wrecking his life as well as all the other associated lives. Caroline Frankenstein is the mother’s character who took care of Victor along with his two brothers and two other girls. But, she did not play any instigating role in his childhood, which might have lead to the formation of his wish to create an artificial human. The character of the mother only appears in Victor’s childhood, as she dies of Scarlet fever very early. Elizabeth is the cousin of Victor, and both Victor and Elizabeth only conducted scientific experiments in their childhood. But, the character of Elizabeth gets killed by the monster on the wedding night, pushing Victor to hunt down the monster. Here also, one can see that the life and death of a woman get decided by the actions of the men. That is, Elizabeth was killed by the male monster because of Victor’s killing of the female companion of the male monster. Victor invents a machine or technology that can reanimate dead flesh, so he joins all the dead parts of a human and inputs them into the machine to create a ‘human’. But, when the ‘human’ comes out of the machine, he had a monster like an appearance, which made Victor abhor him. “When I thought of him, I gnashed my teeth, my eyes became inflamed, and I ardently wished to extinguish that life which I had so thoughtlessly made.” (Shelly). Then after some time, when Victor meets the monster while going on a hike, the monster sympathetically asks for a female companion, so that, he can calm down and live a secluded existence with her. Victor creates a female companion but destroys her when he thinks about the rise of new monsters in the form of offsprings. So, the female monster gets a few scenes and only plays a subdued role, before being killed. Even the actions of the minor character like Justine Moritz shows how the women are subjugated in the literature as well. That is, when William Frankenstein was killed by the monster, Justine falsely confesses that she only killed him. She was pressurized and intimidated to do so, by the minister of the church, under the threat of ex-communication.
So, the female characters, Caroline Frankenstein, Elizabeth Lavenza, Justine Moritz, and the female monster play their assigned roles without doing anything, dramatic or worthwhile to the movement of the story. This passive portrayal of women in the work, Mary Shelly’s Frankenstein clearly proves that the women characters in fictional works of early, days only played a subdued role without any power or dominance.
Shelly, Mary. Frankenstein. W. W. Norton.1995.