A Feminist Reading Of Marry Shelley’s Frankenstein
A Feminist Reading Of Marry Shelley's Frankenstein
Feminism is a movements aimed to equal rights between men and women so in Shelley's time it was just started and through Frankenstein's novel she pointed out one of the most powerful work of feminism in London 1818. Shelley was 18 years old when she wrote this story. When she was in Switzerland with her lover Percy Shelley who later became her husband, they stayed at their friend Lord Byron's castle. They decided to compete for writing the best horror story. That night Shelley dreamed of a scientist who created a scary creature, then her dream developed to a novel that she wrote (Zeitoun).
She was from a noble rich educated family and they were interested in arts. Her mother, Mary Wollstonecraft, was a writer and advocate for women's rights and her father, William Godwin, was a political philosopher and a science fiction writer, while her husband Percy Beach Shelley, was a famous poet who had his own way of thinking which conflicted with his community and was calling for freedom and liberalism rather than religion. She managed to publish the novel in her father's publishing house, and her name mentioned in the second edition with her husband helped. Shelley's Frankenstein reflected different problems that were prominent in the lives of female at that time via her subordinate female characters. Elizabeth, Safie and the nearly created female monster.
The most important female character in this story is Elizabeth although she is hardly mentioned until after the interdiction of Victor Frankenstein her fianc, Shelley showed how women were not important at that time unless they had a man. An example of this, the way Victor treated Elizabeth, he never discussed with her his work or his fear from the monster that he created. He was only expecting for her loyalty and obedience. Even when Victor decided to marry, he discussed his marriage with his father and his friend Henry to locate the place and the day of the marriage.
It is strange because, it is known from antiquity that these concerns are women's interests, not men's, but Shelley preferred to show that men dominated women even in their most basic rights and interests. "Victor said: Elizabeth loved the wonderful sights of nature in the mountains and lakes of Switzerland while I was more interested in investigating why things in nature happened" (Shelley 17). Here Victor was outspoken about his opinion on Elizabeth's interests, which is nothing important in life. Shelley reflects how men in her society looked at women as their mentality lacked invention or even education. "She was docile and good tempered, yet gay and playful as a summer's insect" and " I loved to tend on her, as I should on a favourite animal " (Shelley 20). Victor again looked at Elizabeth as a small butterfly or a pet. Another opinion Shelley pointed out, which is men look at women as a beautiful animal or insect that they enjoy looking at, and they only expect obedience from women and they have no missions in life other than fulfilling their desires.
In addition, when the Monster tries to take revenge from Victor he decides to kill Elizabeth. Here, Elizabeth is a metaphor of something that belongs to Victor. Because when someone tries to take revenge from someone else the first thing he will do is to take or destroy something he owns. So Shelley refers to Elizabeth as an object belongs to Victor. Indeed, the beast is able to kill Elizabeth on her wedding day wearing her white dress, Shelley reflected her negative idea about marriage in her society. Because she didn't believe in marriage, she thought a person should be with whoever he chooses without restrictions.
Second, Safie is another subordinate female character. She runs away from her father in Turkey alone to live with her fianc?© Felix in Germany. Safie and Felix showed a deep and powerful relationship by defying the rules of their societies. Her relationship with her fianc?© is strong and perfect. Shelley presents herself in Safie in the way that rebelled against her family, Shelley ran away with Percy Beach Shelley without getting married and she believed in her lover's belief in freedom and there is no such thing as restrictions such as marriage if two people love each other she even knew that Percy had another wife. But after their long struggle with their family and society they decided to marry.
She mentions Safie in only two pages to show that it is a fictional character who seeks her personal desire something that no one dares in her society to do such a thing, it is also a message to women who want to seek their dreams and live only for their personal desires. "Felix spent the weeks following Safie's arrival teaching her to speak and read their language" (Shelley 85). Safie does not give up on her family but she abandons her identity, language and her culture for Felix who does not even speak her language. In this novel, Shelley points out that women in her society could be this stupid and blind to forget who they are when they loved men.
Finally, the monster asks Victor to create a female monster to live in peace far away from humans. In the beginning, Victor accepts to create her, but he starts to think of consequences and feel suspicious. "Still, my work was proceeding well. Why, then, did such a sickening sense of foreboding ill my heart?... This feeling that something evil was about to happen" (Shelly 111). Victor thinks that the monster hates himself already and starts to become independent, let alone a female ugly angry monster, she will make a fuss.
" That cannot be controlled by his male creature" (Mellor 360). Victor is afraid that the female creature might become a thinker, she may refuse to live with the male monster and they will hate each other. She will have an entity and a sense of self and needs as any normal person. "He's afraid that she might have her own way of thinking. Female autonomy, in Victor's eyes, becomes a terrible threat" (Williams). Victor was not only afraid of an angry female monster but is also afraid she may not submit to the male monster whom Victor created hem himself and this may shake his manhood and change his principles on women who should not exceed the limits of obedience.
Victor is also afraid that the female monster may start to think of having babies, little thinkers demons such as their mother. Shelley through Victor showed how men thought of women at that time. Men through Victor, supposed that women followed men when their named were mentioned, and if women become superior over men it would be a great disaster because it was against women' nature to be superior.
To conclude, Mary Shelley was one of the most important women who talked about the women's movement in the nineteenth century. Her aims were to spread awareness among women through her creative writings, the most important work she wrote was Frankenstein. Despite her young age, Shelley managed to reflect men's perspective of women successfully that time via her works. Also, she reflected her personal life through her characters and showed how she suffered that time because she was a woman.