Novel “Frankenstein” : Roles of Gender

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Updated: Mar 28, 2022
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Throughout reading the novel Frankenstein, I thought it was indeed interesting how Mary Shelley incorporated themes of gender and the aspect of creation.

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Mary Shelley uses her own life experiences to shape her works and to gain ideas to integrate social issues into her work. Mary Shelley portrays the problems and incorporates them throughout the book and touches on the aspect of social hierarchies of gender, which inherently value men over women. In Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, issues of gender and inequality are explored through the aspect of creation. The creation of Frankenstein’s monster gives rise to so many critical questions about how elements of gender and nature have conveyed the ideologies of the 19th century and the postcolonial era.

As Frankenstein constantly disregards authority and the roles of gender appointed throughout the novel, it juxtaposes how the aspect of reproduction makes us predict the creature’s downfall. The theme of separation of masculine power from feminine affection is what eternally leads to the cause of the destruction of the female characters in the novel. Mary Shelley illustrates the male characters as displaying a detachment from having domestic affections, which mostly leads Victor to develop a certain mindset of what he wants to achieve, and it shapes his views on isolation and the roles of gender; Mary Shelley illustrates this through this quote on page 66: “delighted in investigating the facts relative to the actual world.”

Victor Frankenstein embodies this strong type of masculine power and incorporates the ideal male image, which is portrayed through his consistent patterns. Victor is seen to be afraid of female sexuality and the female’s primary function of reproduction, which is juxtaposed through the creation of the creature. This is also portrayed in the research I had conducted on in the article, where it compares the story of the Handmaid’s tale and that of Frankenstein; the author argues against the notion that Victor’s experiments attempt to replace the woman’s role in reproduction by scientific means. Victor’s ignorance stems from not having enough knowledge about women and not having developed a strong relationship with his mother when she was alive. He claims that he has renewed life, and later, we start to notice his sense of ego and his quest for becoming God by creating life.

Through my research, I found specific correlations that incorporate valid comparisons between The Handmaid’s Tale and Frankenstein, mainly focusing on the “notions of monstrous reproduction.” In The Handmaid’s Tale, there are historical notes at the end of the book, which includes ideologies of gender. These ideologies lead Gilead to its downfall. The author emphasizes the point that at a particular time when both men and women are active and intellectually developed, the doctrine of patriarchy may be considered. Men in Gilead develop this condescending mindset regarding gender roles and the fact that women should be used only for their bodies. Just like in Frankenstein, women are used to teaching men a lesson. I think Mary Shelley developed this idea of how Victor isolates himself and starts to deflect roles in life correlating to her own experiences of wanting to have a family when everyone had abandoned her and left her; thus refers explicitly to when her mother and her half-sister died. In reading the article, I had found that Mary Shelley had learned to deal with this sense of isolation when her mother had tried to kill herself twice.

This behavior made her sister think it was okay to overdose, as they never developed a relationship with their mother, and when Mary Shelley wrote about Frankenstein’s creature, it also lacked friends and family who care for it. In the article, they say that throughout her childhood, Mary thinks of her half-sister and herself having this sort of feeling of not knowing: “The means of gaining recognition and a common livelihood in society.” When Victor looks back on his childhood, he suggests that parents play a significant role in how their kids turn out, that is, either happy or miserable. It’s interesting how Victor blames his parents as he spends a substantial amount of time isolating himself from friends and family. Victor did not care about the monster’s feelings or even acknowledge the creature having emotions and feelings, also though he did consider his creation to be somewhat human and despite him, longing for human connection, which is illustrated by this quote found on page 124: “But where were my friends and relations? No father had watched my infant days; no mother had blessed me with smiles and caresses.”The theme of domestic affections may be the primary source of love and an authoritative source for teaching you your purpose in life. This theme is reflected throughout the ending of the book, as in the end, the family is torn apart by revenge and ambition.

This showcases why Victor fails to acknowledge the role of women, even though both the creature and Victor are portrayed to be smart and knowledgeable. The creature possesses tendencies of questioning the structures of society, and the creature constantly challenges the structure of life; which is something that Victor lacks having. Victor is unsure of how human reproduction and creating a life work, which implies and leads readers to understand why he doesn’t understand females and how this leads to this kind of destruction of the female body. Both Victor and the creature are represented to struggle with their identity, and they are also seen as people who are longing to have a relationship to understand the world more. This is evident when the creature threatens to continue seeking revenge and hurting Victor’s loved ones unless Victor starts to construct a female so the creature wouldn’t feel all alone. The creature’s obvious sense of human interaction comes strongly into play here: not only does the creature believe that love will resolve his tenuous relationship with society, but he also believes that his threat will be sufficient to give him what he wants. The woman creature that Victor created had caused him to think that he can’t possibly create a woman, and it makes him wonder about the decisions he makes. Victor starts to deflect the idea of creating a life by science and of him creating a new world or finding ways to bring life through science and knowledge. He starts to realize that only God has the ability to create or take away a life.

Frankenstein says he doesn’t know what may happen to his creation when he attempts to create the female creature; he fears what the female creature may do when she is built. Victor doesn’t know what may happen if he attempts to create another creature as he has already failed once to take care of the creature he had created previously. From Victor’s point of view, the woman-creature would not have the ability to think reasonably and behave similarly to the male creature that he has created. He believes that the woman monster would act more like an “animal,” which leads to the readers’ understanding of inequality and the theme of gender. Victor sees women as less than of a men and thinks that women are unable to withhold strength and integrity and take care of themselves. He predicts the behavior of the female monster from a stereotypical male perspective and judges her according to the ideologies of the 19th century.

I think that when Mary Shelley introduced the idea of creating a woman, she wanted to emphasize that in a male-dominated society, women are seen as weak humans. Mary shelley portrays victor’s desire to become a sole creator to suppress the value of women and to associate females only good for reproduction and affairs , he constantly acknowledges that the female creature is evil and thinks that she might assert the evolutionary right and question her rights and she might say that only she has the power to shape her own existence and rights. Victor believes that she might also want to dominate the world with her feminist views. However i don’t think that the creature has the ability to influence and steer ideologies ,I think that the creature acknowledges that his behavior and his actions were influenced by his environment. As his environment worsens the creature begins to change for the worst. The theme nature makes the creature distance himself from humanity. In Conclusion , Mary shelley uses her own life experiences and touches on the aspect of social hierarchies of gender by referring to the aspect of reproduction and the idea of creation she illustrates social issues and constructs of how women were seen as in that specific time , also it portrayed the idea of inequality for women as it was written during the 19th century it was mostly a male dominated world.

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Novel "Frankenstein" : Roles of Gender. (2021, Mar 27). Retrieved from