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What is feminism? Feminism is, simply put, equality for all people in relation to economics,
politics, and society. When one applies a feminist lens to popular culture or literature, one is
questioning and interpreting ideologies in society or in the text. Feminism can challenge oneself
to live differently by questioning and confronting gender roles and stereotypes. Through
Frankenstein, Mary Shelley proved that she asked these preceding questions of herself. When
reading Frankenstein one is overcome by a patriarchal nineteenth century societal norm where
men are part of the public sector and women the domestic. Men such as Victor Frankenstein and
Walton endeavor on quests in search of knowledge, happiness, personal fulfillment, and
experience, whereas women are confined to the house and are kept outside of the male public
sphere where intellectual activity is abundant. Mary Shelley herself grew up in such a maleidentified society.
In Mary Shelleys Frankenstein, the author characterizes each woman as passive, disposable and serving
a utilitarian function. Female characters like Safie, Elizabeth, Justine, Margaret and Agatha provide
nothing more but a channel of action for the male characters in the novel. Events and actions happen to
them, usually for the sake of teaching a male character a lesson or sparking an emotion within him. Each
of Shelleys women serves a very specific purpose in Frankenstein
.Anne K. Mellors critical essay entitled Possessing Nature: The Female in Frankenstein is an eye
opening essay about the female role in Frankensteins patriarchal society. Her point of view can be
summarize in these points The division of male and female societal roles is endorsed by Victor can be
understood through the lens of his attitude towards the monsters request for a female companion as well
as his exclusion of a female in creation of the monster. Upon the monsters request for a mate Victor
surprisingly has a revelation and promises to create the monster a female companion, after months of
delay Victor finally begins creating a female for the monster but later stops his work upon deciding to
deprive his creation of a female companion.
Mellor raises a great question, What does Victor Frankenstein truly fear, which causes him to end his
creation of the female (360)? Mellor believes that Victor is fearful of an independent female will that
will drive the female creature to have desires and opinions that her male counterpart will not be able to
For any feminist reader this book is really a tough read due to its lack of strong female characters.