Frankenstein Essay


My essay from the Coursera section about Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein:

On the surface, Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein does not appear to be a feminist book. The women in the novel don’t appear often and are sexless and insipid for the most part. The strongest woman is Justine who is falsely convicted of murdering the youngest Frankenstein brother. Even she goes along with the men. She warrants that she is not guilty, but concedes to the conviction without further demur. These are not strong women portrayed in Frankenstein.Women wanting to be equal with men in business, politics, medicine, etc., are often sidetracked when they decide to have children. They have the physical responsibility and the health risks of pregnancy. It was common for women and/or their infants to die in childbirth. Also, women are perceived as the main nurturer while the man is the provider for a family. It is usually true that even when two parents share responsibility for child and home care, the woman usually does more of those tasks.Frankenstein by Mary ShellyIn this novel, the monster is not birthed by a woman. Shelley’s monster is created instead. Although this first monster is a failure, the procedure could be the first step is freeing women from the physical process of pregnancy. If Frankenstein had carried on his experiments – perhaps even with the creation of a partner for the monster – his techniques would have improved. The next creation would not have been as horrific since he could have learned from his mistakes. Frankenstein’s process could eventually have relieved women of the responsibility and risks of childbirth.

Frankenstein flees when he sees his creation. He refuses to take responsibility. Most women care for their babies willingly, no matter what. This man can’t. The creation of life could have freed women in the future. Instead, Frankenstein rejects that possibility. This portrays the strength of women and a subtle sense of feminism in Shelley’s Frankenstein.

Citation: Youngquist, Paul. “Frankenstein: The Mother, the Daughter, and the Monster.” Philological Quarterly 70, 3 (Summer 1991): 339-359.