ignoring the role of the female in Shelley’s novel could be an easy task, since most novels at the time tended to do so, except for the fact that her mother and father were both radical human rights activists; both of whom believed in the equal rights of women—especially Mary Wollstonecraft, Shelley’s mother, who was an essayist and novelist, and best known for her essay, A Vindication of the Rights of Woman. So, why is it that, in Frankenstein, Shelley chooses the only two female characters—Elizabeth and Justine—as victims of the Monster’s cruelty, and kills them off? Also, why does she decide that Victor Frankenstein will not heed to the Monster’s request of making him a female companion?
For starters, I don’t think Shelley ignored the female nor did she subject her to a lesser role in the novel. The reason why the Monster would not be considered “human,” I believe, despite his very-human characteristics, is solely because he was not born. In other words, he was not conceived and birthed by a woman. Thus, the role of the female in the context of this novel is a huge one—without women one cannot be born.
Of course, the male is needed in order to create and the Doctor takes this role with his experiment, but creation is obsolete without a womb and a woman to carry said creature, which the Doctor destroys. Thus, the only person that “kills” the role of the female is the Doctor by forming a creature that defies this natural law—both symbolically and literally since he creates the monster that is the cause of the death of the women in the novel.
Shelley, I believe, used this analogy in order to captivate the significant importance of women, and how the male as the counterpart does an insidious amount of damage to himself and to nature if he tries to evade this fact.
Why am I dying to live if I’m just living to die?