As a Female Critic, to What Extent Would You Criticise Mary Shelley for Her Presentation of the Female Characters in Frankenstein?

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It could be deduced that Mary Shelley presents the female characters in ‘Frankenstein’ stereotypically. Caroline Beaufort, the first woman we as readers are introduced to, is presented as a strong female through the way Shelley has characterized her. For example, even after the death of her father, we are told that ‘her courage rose to support her in adversity’, and that she ‘possessed a mind of uncommon mould’. However, her roles in the novel could be criticized from a female perspective as being stereotypical due to the excessive description that could connote women to be soft, vulnerable and purely for maternal purposes. The use of the superlative ‘greatest’ in the quote ‘his daughter attended him with the greatest tenderness’, to describe the scale of tenderness whilst caring for her father and emphasizes the idea of women being extremely kindhearted and comforting towards their loved ones. The word ‘tender’ is used again later on in chapter 1 in the quote ‘my mother’s tender caresses’. This represents the archetype that all women are maternal. This is further supported by the fact that ‘her time was more entirely occupied in attending him’; the word ‘entirely’ denotes her complete devotion to caring for him. One could say that Shelley is presenting the idea that all women’s time should be spent doing things for men, for it is also portrayed that as soon as her father dies, she marries Alphonse. Her father dies then all of a sudden it says ‘two years after this event Caroline became his wife’. Even though it states ‘two years’, due to the contraction of time (within the same paragraph we hear of her father’s death and her marriage to Alphonse), it seems as if she is moving onto the next man as soon as possible. However this could be interpreted that men actually depend on females so could be seen as empowering for women. Caroline is also presented as angelic

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