In this novel, the human female is often portrayed as passive and compliant. Frankenstein does not appear to be attracted to women and even when he marries Elizabeth he shows little of the passionate interest that he displays towards his science experiments. Although all of the females' roles are small it may be argued that the novel explores Frankenstein's fear of sexuality through his attempt to create a World that excludes women. It has been suggested that, through the novel, Shelly is trying to show that, if men continue to exclude women society will be less successful. Thus, despite writing about meek, subservient women Shelly is actually exploring radical, distinctly feminist ideas. Interestingly the only two females who are bestowed with independent behavior are Safie and the unfinished female creature.
When pages 29 and 30 are examined in detail the reader realises that from a young age Frankenstein was obsessed by Elizabeth's delicate beauty describing her as having been 'a child fairer than pictured cherub-creature who seemed to shed radiance from her looks, and whose form was lighter than the chamois of the hills.' This description reveals Frankenstein's view of Elizabeth as a perfect, angel-like being. Frankenstein enjoys the fact that she is delicate looking and suggests she is delicate and needs protecting. Frankenstein describes Elizabeth as being 'calmer and more concentrated' than himself. He explains that Elizabeth 'busied herself with following the aerial creations of poets.' Here, it almost seems that Frankenstein is mocking Elizabeth for being so na " ive as to enjoy something that is not based on facts and science.
This emphasizes the image of women as being ideal, harmless creatures. From the beginning Frankenstein views Elizabeth as little more than a 'pretty present' to, 'protect, love and cherish.' It is interesting to notice that Safie too was presented as a gift to a man (Felix). This idea of the man protecting the female was the stereotypical belief of the time with women being expected to stay at home, have children and raise them. Frankenstein takes this limited female role to an extreme by eradicating the need for a female in the reproduction of life. However, it is interesting to notice that even though he succeeds in creating life, Frankenstein rejects his child and therefore, undeniably fails in bringing up his 'child'. By showing the hideous man made creature as a result of women being obliterated Shelly is suggesting that women are essential to society, since they are more apt at certain jobs and that, until men realise this society will be brutal and dangerous Having seen in the previous passage that Frankenstein delights in Elizabeth's passive, gentle behaviour it is interesting to contrast this with his behaviour at the beginning of Chapter 20 when he destroys the female mate that he was creating to provide the Creature with love and companionship.
In this passage we can learn exactly how women scare Frankenstein by examining the thoughts and feelings that Frankenstein projects upon the female creature. This is particularly significant if you take the female monster as being an epitome of a primitive and unconstrained human female just like the male creature is often thought to symbolism unsuppressed human feelings. Frankenstein justifies destroying the female by realising that she, 'in all probability was to become a thinking and reasoning animal who might refuse to comply with a compact made before her creation.' It is interesting to notice that Frankenstein attributes freewill to this female Creature yet not to Elizabeth. This could explain the contrast in his reactions and suggests that he is afraid of independent, freethinking women and hence he destroys them. Here Shelly is investigating fundamental feminist ideas. Shelly recognises that men are fearful of women with free will and will try to suppress them.
Frankenstein attributes cruel, evil, in-humane characteristics to the beast when he worries that 'she might become ten thousand times more malignant than her mate, and delight, for its own sake, in murder and wretchedness.' This suggests that he views the creature as wicked and has failed to realise, despite the creature's explanation that he is only driven to such grotesque behaviour due to his unhappiness. Frankenstein attributes similar characteristics to the male creature as to the female. Thus Shelly implies that females are not all that different from men and that the helpless compliance that Elizabeth shows is not an inevitable female trait but rather she is like this because, unlike the creature she suppresses her passionate feelings. However, more importantly, Frankenstein denounces the male by suggesting that the female could become more mighty and powerful than men.