The novel Frankenstein is a powerful piece of literature for several reasons. It is extremely well written and engaging for the reader due to the fact that it was revolutionary for its time. Shelley writes a science fiction novel that refers to scientific study and method combined with elements of supernatural horror and psychological evaluation. Shelley accomplishes writing a complete novel while at the same time engaging in social commentary through the narrative of Victor Frankenstein. This narrative is used to not only put emphasis on science, morality, and the human condition, but Shelley uses it also to present the reader with how opportunity and decision of this era often exclude women. Frankenstein is a man brought back to life by another man. The character is a symbol of man’s pursuit of dominating nature which also fails to include a feminine perspective. Misogyny and limited opportunity for women exist to this day in the workplace and within the scientific field based on the percentages of male versus female scientists, but Frankenstein forces the reader to acknowledge a contemporary perspective of a masculine need for dominance over feminine views or even nature itself. This novel through its narrative of Dr. Victor Frankenstein exposes the reader to a feminine perspective that is under attack by the dominating masculine view that was often utilized throughout the industrial revolution. Europe had been transformed and sold on the progress of this massive change while Shelley forces the reader to revisit the true existence of benefit or progress in society that often excludes a feminine perspective.
The animation of Dr. Victor Frankenstein’s monster is a symbol of undeclared abhor toward the opposite female sex. Mellor in her critique of the novel describes how the feminine hold of natural reproduction is taken and portrayed in Dr. Frankenstein’s nightmare. She writes: “The natural mode of human reproduction symbolically erupts in his nightmare following the animation of his creature, in which his bride-to-be is transformed in his arms into the corpse of his dead mother” (274). Mellor adds that Dr. Frankenstein did not only take reproduction away from women, but that his intentions are to create other men that are created by men. He refuses to create a female version of his creature. He strives to build a society limited to the male sex. It is not only rage that Victor feels toward other females, but his character is also full of fear and mistrust of “the feminine”. Women are not considered by the central figure of the novel. Frankenstein’s nightmare clearly demonstrates that he fears or is threatened by the female sex, therefore his mind must destroy it while at the same time giving strength to his sex. His fear is derived from a fear of dependency of other females. His narrative implies that he wishes to mute other women from having their own independent arguments or desires that might run counter to his own. Frankenstein fears that if he creates an ugly female creature that the male monster might refuse to mate. Mellor writes about Frankenstein’s fears in the following: “He is afraid of an independent female will, afraid that his female creature will have desires and opinions that cannot be controlled by his male creature” (279). The scientist fails to take into account the perspective of a female creature reacting unfavorably to the hideous sight of the male monster. Shelley uses Frankenstein’s fears as a way to demonstrate a double standard in her own society. She expands on this misogynistic world view as females are almost regarded as pets where they are not allowed to travel with men or be expected to be able to complete similar occupational tasks, especially in those in the scientific field. The singular advantage of being able to procreate is abducted by Frankenstein while reducing female reproductive power. Shelley puts a mirror in front of her readers to examine how their own gender views might have been influenced by external societal influences.
Frankenstein deems himself as a God with the power to separate the natural roles of both males and females. As with all human beings he was born from another female, but wishes to disturb this natural order. Frankenstein hold many double standards in his arguments for both creating and destroying the creature he creates. On such fear is that a female creature could potentially raise an entire race of similar creatures. He goes one step further in that he fears that a female creature could more sadistic or evil than the male version. Most of the female characters in Shelley’s novel are maids or nurses instead of doctors or other professionals. Shelley through Frankenstein’s narrative coupled with the absence of occupationally strong female characters paints a picture of male dominance in a clear and engaging way with the reader. Additionally, the love interest of Dr. Frankenstein named Elizabeth is also intentionally treated as possession in order to drive this point. Shelley effectively writes about a man that is undone by his own fear and desires, many of which run counter to a feminine perspective of life and gender roles. Her criticisms are still as much relevant today as they were in the early 19th century when she completed the novel.