One creature presented by Shelley posed lots of critical

One of the key
issues explored in Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein is that of gender identity and
gender expectations, Shelley uses the creation of the creature to challenge
these issues in an otherwise peaceful society.
With the Gothic novels central characters demonstrating the idealized gender
roles of nineteenth-century Britain, the creature presented by Shelley posed
lots of critical questioning, particularly when looking at the unusual and
unnatural nature of the creature’s birth as well as his experiences, both of
which serve as a challenge to the traditional gender role of women during
nineteenth-century Britain. Shelley’s creature not only challenges the view of
gender roles but also suggest that women have a much greater role in society
then they are being given credit for. The creature is used to show how women
play a pivotal role in the development of the
prevailing social order, they are far from being simply companions for men. While proving that the attitudes during the time
surrounding women were unjust and unfair she does however present us, as
William Veeder argues with a handful of female character all of which who
provide nothing more than a channel of action for the male characters in the
novel. The female characters such as Elizabeth and Justine seem to be the
submissive sex in the novel, they are included purely to teach the male
characters a lesson or sparking an emotion within them. That said, each of
Shelley’s women serve a very specific purpose in the novel.

            Although Shelley does not present us
with a strong female character or voice it would be unjust to say that this
means the absence of the need for the female gender, instead the lack of female
characters makes Shelley’s novel a strong critique of the male dominated
society she was living in. Litery critic Dan Chapman supports this idea by
arguing that the lack of female character in the novel highlights the
importance of women in society. He argues that the novel is virtually a warning
from Shelley of the destruction that is to come if society continues to
undermine the importance of women. The women in the novel are forced to be
submissive, a trait that illustrates well the obedient nature women were
expected to have towards men. Shelley particularly highlights this issue in
society through the character of Elizabeth who Victor treats as though she is
his possession instead of her own individual person “i looked upon Elizabeth
as mine- mine to protect, love and cherish”, Victor believes all of Elizabeth’s
derives from his doing. Victors descriptions towards Elizabeth show the lack of
respect for women in society, he at one point even refers to her as a creature
and says she is “of a distinct species”. Shelley brings up the social issue
that women were expected to stay at home, they were not given the same opportunities
as men which is shown in the novel when Elizabeth was not allowed to travel
live victor, she even mentions that she wishes she had been given such opportunities.
Although she is set up from the start as a passive woman there is also evidence
to suggest that there is something more extraordinary about her than we initially
see. Some critics have even gone as far to argue that Elizabeth’s beauty is to
blame for Victor creating the creature as he was trying to recapture her beauty
as a male, the gender he perceived to be far more superior and powerful.

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Another
character presented to us by Shelley is Justine who despite her innocence is
sentenced to death for the murder of William by a jury of men. Similar to Elizabeth
she is presented as a weak character who is there purely to teach Victor a
lesson. Justine confesses a lie because a male priest pressured her, she is sentenced
to death by a male jury for a crime she has not committed and instead has been committed
by a male. Shelley uses this to show how women’s lack of self-confidence in their
courage has allowed men to dominate them. Critics have argued that this shows
the novel is a warning to both men and women, it is warning women that they
need to gain that confidence in order to brake this role. It can be argued that
Justine is used to Shelley to show just how diabolical the monster is, it is
not until Justine dies that the reader realises just how sinister Victors
creation is. Just like Elizabeth, Justine is an idealized, domesticated and as
mentioned before a passive to me. Victor who claims great affection towards her
does not care for her enough to save her an admit what he knows, showing just
how dominant women were expected to be. For Victor to think it was fine to allow
Justine to sacrifice her own life highlights the problems in 19th
century British society.