|Type of paper:||Research paper|
|Categories:||English literature Women Frankenstein Gender in literature|
The role of women in the society has continually changed over time. Today, their position in the society is elevated, thanks to the policies and legislation enacted by governments and the international community to safeguard the rights of women. However, in the 1800s the role of women in the society was considered a compromised one. They had no rights to vote, they were perceived incapable of rational thought, and they were barred from testifying in a law court among other limitations to their freedom. 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. It also represents a feminist culture where the role of women is limited to simple domestic roles and limited freedom for women. The role of women in the 1800s was undermined, presenting the modern women with a challenge to remain vigilant in their fight for an elevated position in the society.
Mary Shelley's novel, the Frankenstein was published in the year 1818. One of the key persons who influenced her to write the book 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 Shelley to write her piece to show how the community was unkind to women. In her text, she uses a number of characters to enable her to pass on her call for a preeminent role of women in the society and an end to gender bias.
Mary Shelley elucidates a role of women in the society which was prominently influenced by the perceptions of the time.Three women characters feature predominantly in the text including Elizabeth, Caroline, and Justine. The women in the text are confined to their homes and rarely participate in activities apart from the ordinary 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 (Shelley 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 attributed mainly to the various legislations which have affirmed the need for gender equity. In my opinion, the society in the text erred significantly in the way they regarded women. Men and women should have equal rights. Each gender should be given a fair opportunity to work towards achieving their goals in life.
The motif of familial responsibility is widely referred to in the Frankenstein. Many readers of the Frankenstein argue that Mary Shelley was conveying the importance of responsibility in a family set up since she brings this up in the story by repeatedly referring to the roles women played in the family. Despite the importance of the family roles of women during that time, women feel undermined in the Frankenstein society.Shelley 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 communities, 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 "The Madwoman in the Attic" by Sandra Gilbert and Susan Gubar, the authors rue about the feminine subversion in Mary Shelley's novel. The fact that there is no revolutionary female character in the Frankenstein represents a clear picture of the diminished role of women in the 19th century. Mary Shelley as a woman fails to use her text to highlight a struggle guided by women to fight for their freedom from male domination. Mary Shelley instead chooses to advance the plot of the novel by ironically using stereotypically domesticated female characters (Sandra and Gilbert 231-237). This is in contrast to the male protagonists in the novel who are overwhelmingly superior to women as displayed by Mary Shelley. By analyzing the way Mary Shelley brings out her plot in the book, women in the 1800s had given in to the perception that their role in the society which was limited to domestic duties was a naturalized one. They seem to agree that they are inferior to men. Many readers of the Frankenstein have argued that Mary Shelley, as it is the case with female characters in her novel, is a typical woman of the 1800s: an undermined, conquered, domesticated and stereotyped woman.
Elizabeth is portrayed as affectionate and gentle. These are protective qualities, and she represents a typical woman of the 1800s.This establishes the role of women as caregivers the 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 motif of affection brings out the common thread of warmth and tenderness which is ever-present among the female characters in Frankenstein.
The female characters in the Frankenstein are portrayed as a weak population within a society dominated by masculinity and oppression by the men. This is also evident in Patmore's' "The Angel of the House." The Victorian Image is one of most popular artistic works in the world. The image came from the "The Angel in the House" and is deemed to represent an ideal woman.The angel was required to be submissive and devoted to her husband (Patmore 33).She was also expected to be sympathetic, graceful, meek and self-sacrificing. All these traits of women are widely alluded to by Mary Shelley in her novel. Coincidentally, both books were authored in the 1800s, and this gives readers a glimpse of the role of women in the 1800s.These traits were considered ideal for a woman.In the Frankenstein, most of the female characters exhibited these traits. Today, a perfect woman is one who is not only caring and supportive of the family but also committed to economic freedom and career development.
Differently, 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 sound 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 significant 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 goals.
Lipking, in his analysis of the Frankenstein, notes that the novel presents readers with genuine but insolvable problems, with no easy way out(Lipking 319).He has reservations about the manner in which Shelley bring out the role of women in the society at her time, among other themes. Lipking argues that the Frankenstein does not offer a solution to the obvious problem of feminism in the community. This sets a clear picture of how women were undermined in the 1800s.The fact that the Frankenstein shows the plight of women yet the author does not have a revolutionary female character to lead the struggle against male chauvinism is worrying (Lipking 322).This was the ideal situation on the role of women in the 1800s-a powerless population that had surrendered to male domination.
Despite a lot of criticism against Mary Shelley's "the Frankenstein," where readers accuse her of being silent on the way out for women in the chauvinistic era of the 1800s, she fascinatingly criticizes contemporary gender canon. She notes that the role of women is far from the caregiving and taking care of children. This, she indicates 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 prosperous society. Her mother is also critical on the respect of the rights of women in the community. Shelley is also critical of the way women in her community had given in to the bullying and manipulation by their male counterparts. She notes that women have to play a more significant role in fighting for their rights. In my opinion, everyone has a role to play regarding ensuring the society is free from gender discrimination.
The challenges faced by women in the 1800s present the modern day women with a problem to showcase their ability as equals to the male gender. This is the only way to vindicate their call for equality and an end to women discrimination in the society (Dubois and Ellen 45).Although the Frankenstein presents the case on how women were undermined in the 1800s, it is expected that women should not accept the status quo. They should instead focus on learning from past experiences and rooting for a just society free from all forms of discrimination.
In conclusion, the Frankenstein's society represents a society that does not recognize the role of women in the community 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 advance considerably in life.
Brooks, Peter. "What Is A Monster?" Frankenstein: The 1818 Text, Contexts, Criticism. New York: W.V Norton, 2012. 369-90. Print
DuBois, Ellen Carol. Woman suffrage and women's rights. NYU Press, 1998.
Gilbert, Sandra M., and Susan Gubar. The Madwoman...
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