Gender Representations in Frankenstein

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Frankenstein by Mary Shelley – Extended Written Response Gender representations are present within texts as an example through which an author is able to communicate their own opinions to a wider audience. The presence of gender representations within texts are used to communicate the blatantly recurring inequality between male and female. A gender reading itself will interrogate all representations of gender and the power distribution within the text in order to come to a full understanding of the nature of the characters and the major theme behind their personalities and actions.

Mary Shelley was influenced substantially by her mother’s feminist views and despite never knowing her remained firm in her belief of women’s equal worth. The novel Frankenstein or The Modern Prometheus although not a feminist novel at first glance is rather a powerful statement made by Shelley concerning the plight of women and the differeing social expecations placed upon them. The female characters are stereotypical in such a way that they embody the idilic, nurturing, loving, selfless and dutiful qualities so sought after during the time.

Rather than write a radical novel and alowing the female characters to be of equal standing to the men Mary Shelley constructs her novel in such a way as to show how things ought not to be. The construction of the female characters within the novel positions them as stereotypical women who exist in such a way that their whole lives are either for or revolving around a man. This representation of women is an avenue that Shelley explores in order to communicate the severe disadvatage to which it puts women in relation to men.

The two most extensive examples of women whos charcter puts them in this position are that of Caroline Beaufort and Elizabeth Lavenza. Caroline Beaufort is very much the embodiment of the womanly figure, a true angel. Amidst this was her constant gratitude towards Alphonse for resquing her from a life of poverty and squalour. This life she was saved from now encourages her to help those who are less frtunate than her thus further confirming her posistion an a truly idylic woman. “It was a necessity, a passion – remembering what she had suffered, and how she had been relieved, – for her to act her turn as the guardian angel to the afflicted”.

This inturn makes her solely dependant on Alphonse which is in great contrast to the young woman who was attempting to afford her own life and support herself. This inability to suppor oneself is a reminder of the common belief that women could not possibly support themselves without the aid of men. Elizabeth is first presented as a gift for Victor “my more than sister, since till death she was to be mine only” and from that moment on their lives are inexplicably intertwined. Her nature to be concerned for the welfare of those around her was often paramount to her own feelings anddesires. She indeed vieled her grief,

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