Feminist Reading Of Frankenstein Essay

627 words - 3 pages

Important Note: If you'd like to save a copy of the paper on your computer, you can COPY and PASTE it into your word processor. Please, follow these steps to do that in Windows:1. Select the text of the paper with the mouse and press Ctrl+C.2. Open your word processor and press Ctrl+V.Feminist Reading of FrankensteinWhen reading Frankenstein by Mary Shelley, one cannot help but notice that the women characters seem to have little substance compared to the male characters. This may have been caused by the time period in which she wrote: one in which females were considered inferior to males. This difference between the sexes can be looked at using a variety of different perspectives. Johanna M. Smith, a professor at the University of Texas at Arlington, discusses this issue using feminist eyes in her essay entitled "'Cooped up': Feminine Domesticity in ...view middle of the document...

In the novel itself, no women speak directly. The book has three basic narrators: Robert Walton, Victor Frankenstein, and Frankenstein's monster. The female characters are very weak in this novel, especially Elizabeth, Victor's cousin/fiancé (no they aren't from Arkansas). She is portrayed as the perfect woman, especially after Victor's mother, Caroline dies. She takes the place of the mother figure in the household. But just like all the female characters in the story, her character has little substance. Victor's character is described in detail, as is that of the monster, and Henry Clerval. When Henry gets killed, sympathy is really felt toward Victor, because he has just lost his lifetime friend. When Elizabeth is murdered, the reader finds it hard to connect with what Frankenstein is feeling. Elizabeth (and the other main female characters: Justine and Caroline) are there to reflect the men characters. Professor Smith states in her essay that "women function not in their own right but rather as signals of and conduits for men's relations with other men" (283). This is especially clear when the monster kills Elizabeth on their wedding night. The monster is upset with Victor, so instead of hurting him, he kills his wife. Elizabeth is used as a sort of ruler to measure the relationship between Victor and his monster.Professor Smith's two main arguments both involve the relationships in the novel. In her second argument, she states that the Frankenstein family has a "bookkeeping mentality" about them. "Gratitude, no matter how heartfelt, implies obligation, which in turn implies the power of the person to whom one is grateful or obligated. The insistence on gratitude and obligation induces a bookkeeping mentality that permeates all the relations in this novel" (Smith 279). Frankenstein states that "gratitude assisted the development of love" (Smith 43). There are many examples of this debt/obligation mindset permeating the novel. When Henry nurses Victor back from the flu, Victor's first response is "How shall I ever repay you?" (Smith 63).

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