Women’s Role in Frankenstein

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The Role of Women Seen in Historical Literature The roles women have held throughout history have regretfully usually been roles of subservience to males as women held little power. This theme is very common and can be seen in many of the works from the Romantic as well as the Victorian Era. Specifically, the role of women during these time periods is highlighted very well in Mary Robinson’s “The Poor Singing Dame” and Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. Starting with “The Poor Singing Dame” there lives a dame around the castle of a lord who is always singing whilst doing her daily routine, she would “sit at her wheel, and would merrily sing” (Robinson line 20) and she lived this life peacefully and happily.

The lord of the castle, envious that she is joyous while poor, and having much more power than her, decides she is to be detained to prevent her from singing. The lord was able to simply send men “with threats to prevent her” (Robinson line 37) as he held a much higher position than her, and because he knew that as a woman she would never be able to reach a position like his. The lords ease of stripping the singing dame of her happiness shows in a literal sense how women lacked power during this era. To continue with this theme of women having less than equal roles to men, Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein features many female characters that can be interpreted to represent some of the roles of women during the Victorian Era. Elizabeth Lavenza was viewed to be a possession of Victor Frankenstein rather than a person.

She is presented to Victor as a “pretty present for my Victor” (Shelley 37) and Victor says that he “looked upon Elizabeth as mine—mine to protect, love, and cherish.” (Shelley 37). It sounds endearing as it is presented, but it highlights how common a thought process like this really was. A woman in these times would not be considered an equal person to male, and as we can see from the writing, in some cases they would even be viewed to be equal to valuable objects like jewelry or an expensive horse. This is in stark contrast to the men who take on the lead role in the book such as Victor. Victor’s struggle is the forefront and main focus of the book which is to be expected as he is the protagonist, but the female characters are used more as plot devices rather than supporting characters, something that is representative of the era.

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Women's Role In Frankenstein. (2022, Feb 02). Retrieved September 22, 2023 , from

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