An examination of Patriarchy in Mary Shelly's Frankenstein.

Essay by gobrillaCollege, UndergraduateA, March 2004

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Elizabeth, the Monster and Patriarchy.

In Mary Shelley's Frankenstein, some blatant parallels are made between Dr. Frankenstein's adopted sister, Elizabeth, and the monster he created. Both of these innocent creatures, together represent all of mankind in their similarities and differences, Elizabeth being the picture of womanhood and goodness, the monster representing manhood and evil. Both Elizabeth and the monster belong to and structure their lives in terms of Dr. Frankenstein, leading to overall destruction and, ultimately demonstrating the dangerous properties of patriarchy, which Dr. Frankenstein embodies.

Dr. Frankenstein begins his narrative, most logically, in telling the story of his childhood.

Dr. Victor Frankenstein's mother was a loving, benevolent woman, moved by the plight of the impoverished and forever doing all in her power to give charity to those in need. It was thus that she came across a poor Italian family with a flock of dirty children, one of them stood out, she was blond and fair and especially angelic.

Victor's mother decided that it was her duty to raise this blond girl as her own, or, rather, as Victor's own. This girl was Elizabeth who is, in a way, given to Victor as a gift, and thus begins his unnatural relationship with power and creation;

"On the evening previous to [Elizabeth] being brought to my home, my mother had said

playfully, 'I have a pretty present for my Victor-tomorrow he shall have it.' And when,

on the morrow, she presented Elizabeth to me as her promised gift, I, with childish

seriousness, interpreted her words literally and looked upon Elizabeth as mine-mine to

protect, love, and cherish." (56)

On her deathbed, Victor's mother expresses her desire for the ultimate union of Victor and Elizabeth. The fate of Elizabeth is thus utterly dependent upon Victor's, and Victor's relationship with...