Notes on Frankeinstein

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Answers to Questions.
1. How much sympathy does the writer make the reader have for Victor Frankenstein? How does she do this? The reader often feels ambivalent towards Victor. The traits that make him a powerful and admirable figure are the same ones that lead to his ruin. His self-contradictions become more frequent as his problems get bigger. Our initial sympathy alters radically once we meet the monster (Victor should feel more remorse for abandoning the monster; his duty to family and humanity should have led to him helping) but we should not underestimate the foulness of William’s murder. His death is tragic and he dies hoping that another man may succeed where he has failed. Shelley uses irony to help the reader take a critical attitude by using twists in the tale so that Victor’s responses develop him into a complex and realistic figure.

2. Examine the differences between the male and female characters. What does this tell us about the context? The women are portrayed as virtuous; Caroline Beaufort’s kindness towards the poor, her adoption of Elizabeth, the orphans Elizabeth, Justine and Margaret act as surrogate mothers, Agatha and Safie show gentleness and kindness towards DeLacey and Felix. The fathers unlike the mothers, fail in their parental role. The fathers of Clerval, Walton and Safie try to stop their children pursuing their interests. Alphonse’s tyrannical behaviour mirrors Victor’s attitude to the monster. Women’s roles at the time were entirely domestic, with assertive behaviour seen as ‘unfeminine’. Men had control over women both morally and legally but women were believed to have a duty to bring the finer virtues to a man’s life particularly through marriage. Strength of women seen in their dialogue, reflecting their beliefs and attitude. Put into supporting roles (as was the reality of their situation) Women’s role in creating life is diminished.

3. Trace the development of the relationship between the monster and Frankenstein...