|Type of paper:
|English literature Feminism Frankenstein Romantic literature Gender in literature
Gender bias has existed for a long time in the history of humanity. It refers to the victimization of one gender, especially women, where they are regarded as not equal to men. Gender discrimination takes many forms, including sexual harassment, social discrimination, and denial of economic freedom among other forms. In today's world, most governments have put policies and legislation to discourage all forms of discrimination against women. However, in the Frankenstein society, women faced a lot of challenges in trying to assert their influence as equals to their male counterparts. The Frankenstein society poses a challenge to the current generation to desist from undervaluing women and subjecting them to unnecessary bias. The Frankenstein society represents a feminist society where the role of women is limited to simple domestic roles and limited freedom for women.
Mary Shelly's novel, the Frankenstein was released in the year 1818. One of the key persons who influenced her to write the novel was her mother. Her father was fighting for political justice in his pieces of writing while her mother was known for his fight for gender equity during that period. He was particularly against the oppression and manipulation of women in his society. This greatly motivated Shelly to write her piece to show how the society was unkind to women. In her text, she uses a number of characters to enable her to pass across her call for the end of gender discrimination in her society.
Mary Shelley elucidates a role of women in the society which was prominently influenced by the perceptions of the time. The women in the text are confined to their homes and rarely participate in activities apart from the normal housekeeping chores. A good example is where Elizabeth is not permitted to travel with Victor. While at home, women either work as housewives, nurses and caretakers for children or they are considered a kind of a pet. In the text, Victor "loved to tend" on Elizabeth (Shelly 30). This shows that women were taken as domestic beings who just needed to be taken care of without being granted any freedom. Today, a lot has changed in the way we regard women. They now more empowered and even have the freedom to choose what to do in their lives. This can be largely attributed to the various legislations which have affirmed the need for gender equity. In my opinion, the society in the text erred greatly in the way they regarded women. Men and women should have equal rights. Each gender should be given an equal opportunity to work towards achieving their goals in life.
The Frankenstein society is one that has disregarded the role of women in the society. In the setting displayed in the novel, there is no need at all to have such a disregarded and disrespected part of the population. Shelly portrays a society where everything, even nature is against the advancement of women in life and their ability to enjoy equal rights just as their male counterparts. The feminine importance in this society is limited to the simple roles which of women it is an insult to their social and cultural identity. One would suggest that Frankenstein wanted to create a society for men only. This is accomplished when the control of women for reproduction is taken away from them, to cement the dominance and chauvinism by the male population further. This crucially denies women their cultural power. Today's society has managed to do away with these barbaric traits of men. However, in some societies, women are still disregarded and considered a not equal to men. This represents the societies which have not realized that the way women are regarded has changed and that gender bias should not be a challenge in the 21st century.
In the novel, women are portrayed in a sympathetic light, corresponding closely to the Victorian principles of women where they were viewed as caregivers for the family. Elizabeth Lavenza is described as "docile and good-tempered." She is also described as "gay and playful." (Shelley 66). This represents the role of women in the 18th century where their role was mainly to take care of their children and the family at large. Elizabeth's altruistic character is also demonstrated through the way she "continually endeavors to contribute to the happiness of others, entirely forgetful of herself" (Shelley 73). The word "entirely" is used to show how women were consigned to the background of the social setting.
Elizabeth is portrayed as affectionate and gentle. These are motherly qualities. This further establishes her role as a caregiver in her family. Safie De Lacey, exhibits the same character, further confirming the role of women in the society during that period. Safie even nurses her attendant during the journey "with the most affection" (Shelley 141), this unique servant and master's relationship show Safie's compassion which is beyond class and position. The recurrence of the word "affection" brings out the common thread of warmth and tenderness which is ever-present among the female characters in Frankenstein. The female characters exhibit altruistic maternal traits that match the role of the Angel in the house, who is completely dedicated to the needs of her household. In today's society, the role of women has changed in a great way. The empowerment of women has seen them have an elevated status in the society where they can perform duties not limited to home chores.
Shelley further elucidates the considerable influence of such maternal figures in the female characters. Frankenstein's profession that "no creature could have more tender parents than he did" (Shelley 65) suggests a childhood complete with motherly care and attention. The monster's initial experiences, in contrast, are characterized by being "poor, helpless, and miserable" which shows a manifest of poor maternal nourishment and care. The monster, however, gains consciousness while mature "feeling pain invades me on all sides, I sat down and wept" (Shelley 121) underscores belated acknowledgment of his incapacity and tardy anguish which echo an infant's cry and susceptibility upon birth. The nurturing presence of women alludes to the monster's cry. How "no eve soothed his sorrows, or shared his thoughts, he was alone" (Shelley 145), which not only emphasizes the isolation of the monster since its birth but also predominantly how the female companion, gives the desired affection. Due to the similarity in the roles of women. That is, caregiving and affection, the monster pronounces he is "malicious because he is miserable" (Shelley 156) and his cry "Shall each man....find a wife for his bosom....and I be alone" also define his actions as reactive reactions highlighting the underlying desperation in the absence the affection of women.
In a contrasting manner, there a considerable number of female characters who suffuse the loyal environment of Frankenstein. Though Frankenstein endures injustice in the tale, Elizabeth uncompromisingly attempts to "chase away the fiend that lurked in his heart" (Shelley 114), which diminishes the domination of female camaraderie and its good effects, particularly on his life. The creature does not have the same luxury. The lack of presence of women impedes all attempts of the monster to redeem itself. This creates a rift between his narrative path and his creator. Shelly, in her novel, shows a society where even nature is discriminative against women. This is just to show how women faced a big challenge of inequality and inability to explore their full potential. The society of the 19th century is a complete contrast to what we have today. The current generation offers women many avenues to develop and attain their career and social goals without being subjected to undue criticism.
While Frankenstein formulates clearly the importance of women as leading maternal figures, the tale also analyses how central the roles of women are as the strengthening blocks of the general social order. As mentioned earlier, one basic question that predominantly features in the novel is as to whether the artificial conditions of the creation of the monster or his abandonment contribute to his atrocity. Frankenstein suggests that it is natural for women to take up house duties and be submissive as they offer companionship to their husbands. However, this is a mistaken identity of women as it serves to alienate them from the society and hence limit their chances of advancement in life. This clearly shows how biased the Frankenstein society was against women in the 19th century. The creation of the monster Cleary shows that was within the confines of the social belief to view women as a lesser gender. In today's society, it is not natural to undermine women and have a bias against them (Glick et al.,34). They have equal rights of men and they are no longer reprimanded and forced to be submissive to men. This is a paradigm shift in the role of women in the society.
The Frankenstein also analyses the consequences of humanity breaching the limits occasioned due to nature. However, through infusing its main characters with conventional traits of gender, the novel illustrates that the roles of the female gender in the 19th-century society in Britain are not simply a similar to that of the male gender. Women are considered crucial to the taking care of children in the family. Shelley does not just highlight the maternal significance of women but also emphasizes the importance of parity with the roles of men in the society. Certainly, the society in Frankenstein, in today's gender standards, cannot be even close to being considered a fair society. In presenting "the truth of the elementary principles of human nature" (Shelley 49), the author goes on to highlight the roles of the female gender which had not been conventionally accepted during that period.
Crucially, Shelley fascinatingly criticizes contemporary gender canon. She notes that the role of women is far from the caregiving and taking care of children.This, she notes that it limits women to the sidelines of the society and hence limited capability to advance socially, economically and even academically. Through this restoration of the female gender and the reaffirmation of their social significance, Shelley strongly reaffirms the views of her parents, especially her mother, Mary Wollstonecraft, who characteristically advocated for extensive women's education to allow them to appreciate their roles in building a successful society. Her mother is also critical on the respect of the rights of women in the society. Shelley is also critical of the way women in her society had given in to the bullying and manipulation by their male counterparts. She notes that women have to play a bigger role in fighting for their rights. In my opinion, everyone has a role to play regarding ensuring the society is free from gender discrimination.
In conclusion, the Frankenstein's society represents a society that does not recognize the role of women in the society as equal to that of men. Women are shown as an undervalued and an undermined species throughout the novel. This has no place in the modern society where women are reaping the benefits of economic, political and social empowerment. Women can learn, from the Frankenstein society on the need to seek for their deserved right of equity and non-discrimination without fear of victimization. Today, we have many women leaders who have fought and advocated for equal rights for all genders. In the current set up, it is against the international law to undermine the role of women as a crucial part of the population, with equal rights as men. The Frankenstein society would not fit in the modern society as their ways in which they viewed women have changed significantly. The 21st-century woman is one who is privileged and has all opportunities to...
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