Questions regarding gender type in Frankenstein rests as a complicated issue for
present-day critics, in the cinematography adaptation as well as in the novel itself. The novel
is adapted in the film John Whale's classic 1931 version and subsequently to Kenneth
Branagh's 1994 films called 'Mary Shelley's Frankenstein'(Whale). Science acts as the
unifying code behind the central story of the film and the novel. However, shelly integrate
sexual and science orientation in the text that diverges subtly from that adopted in the film,
particularly from the version of Branagh's(Whale). Indeed, Shelley incorporates the theme of
gender and successfully sets the platform for modern women to eradicate social limitations in
the film as well as in the novel itself, notably impeding their development.
Shelley Frankenstein explores critical concerns of gender identity set in the context of
a parable of bleaching and humanity confrontation, particularly of the edges of nature
(Shelley and Meriano 17). In the novel, she incorporates the theme of gender to highlight
gendered roles in British society within the text. Shelley sterns gender doctrine on the head,
apart from child-bearing and caregiving roles assumed by women. Thus, limiting gender roles
for women assuming household chores only. Besides, the film explores the significance of
the female gender as well as the elevation of women equivalence with male-dominated
In the novel Frankenstein, the questions of gender identity are elucidated through the
making of the Monster in a peaceful society. The creation of the Monster ideally poses
critical controversies concerning the social make-up of British society during the 19 th century
(Shelley and Meriano 23). Markedly, the unfamiliar birth of the Monster, along with his
subsequent experiences, depicts a significant focus regarding female gender errands in British
society. From the aftermaths, Shelley ultimately suggests that women play vital roles
contributing to the stability of social order, far from being overlooked and perceived as mere
companions to their male counterparts.
From the onset of the film Mary Shelley Frankenstein, the male gender presentation is
marked by profound similarities with archetypes of male tradition(Whale). Arguably, male
characters typically display a detachment in domestic matters in the quest to pursue their
goals. Men and women were assigned stereotypical roles in the Victorian era. For instance,
British society integrated gendered division roles, prompting to gender discrimination
(Shelley and Meriano 15). The male characters assumed the public spheres errands, depicted
through Alphonse Frankenstein, working as a public servant.
Conversely, the film depicts women characters, including Elizabeth, Margaret, and
Caroline, among other hand-women, strictly assumed domestic roles of homemakers and
mothers. The inequality concerning gender during the Victorian era prompted the female
subjugation(Shelley and Meriano 25). The female gender was utterly deprived of the right to
portray their skills and knowledge to the sphere of the public domain. Within this context,
diversified women, including Justine, Elizabeth, and Caroline, are victims of horrific events
affecting women in British society, such as the degradation of female roles, along with brutal
murder. The Monster brutally murdered the wife of Victor, Elizabeth. Therefore, by
displaying diversified qualities such as calm, poised, tender, and submissive makes her an
epitome of an idyllic wife in the Victorian era.
Sadly, in the 1800s, British society vastly embraced the suffering and death of women
depicted through various characters in the film, such as Elizabeth (Shelley and Meriano 70).
In this society, the female gender is perceived and treated as property with no freedom and
right equivalent to their male counterparts. For instance, in Frankenstein, Elizabeth is
considered as a private possession by his husband, Victor. Even in their first encounter,
Victor says that death is the only thing that will eliminate Elizabeth from his life. Victor's
mother perceives Elizabeth as a small gift to present, revealing gender discrimination against
women in British society. Indeed, the submissiveness of women towards men is exhaustively
illustrated in the novel as a trait. The female gender is thereby portrayed as victims detached
from their male partners due to their lack of contribution in their scientific and professional
fields. Domestic roles, along with traditional family settings, prompted a profound distinction
between men and women in the Victorian era (Shelley and Meriano 54). Generally, the novel
presents female characters as passive, detrimental, and ineffective about domestic errands.
The eighteenth and nineteenth-century marked profound changes in the field of
science in British society, yet patriarchal and orthodox mindset dominated the public.
Irrespective of their social status, the state of women remained unchanged. The novel
Frankenstein introduces diversified female characters in noble social settings such as
Elizabeth. Still, they are perceived as incompetent to carry out intellectual errands or other
tasks dissimilar to household chores. Therefore, during the 18 th and 19 th centuries, the British
societal setting embraced gender division prevalence profoundly, with women holding on to a
belief that they should submit to their male counterparts and subsequently yield control of
other people (Shelley and Meriano 39). The novel thereby, explores female characters subtly,
highlights the prominence of male characters indirectly. Indeed, women devote a significant
amount of their time and energy to men in their life to mainly help them fulfill their
aspirations, dreams, desires, as well as providing satisfaction seen in the film. The aftermath
which women receive from their male partners regardless of their devotion is brutal murder.
Arguably, the male and female contrast in the novel is very apparent, where the male
characters are deliberated in great detail (Shelley and Meriano 87). Men have voices and
individual opinions in British society. Besides, integrating diversified male narrators of the
novel itself depicts the prominence of male characters over their female counterparts. Men
travel freely to explore the world, whereas women are restricted and only revolves within the
house. Gender inequality was prevalent in Victorian times, and Shelley highlights significant
gender diversities through specified roles assigned to the characters in the novel (Williams).
Indeed, gender inequality resulted in suppressed development among women, unlike the male
Also, Shelley established male characters as self-centered and female gender is
perceived as meek. The scenario where Victor creates a monster depicts male predominance
since he incorporates several male bodies in constructing it (Britton 20). Along with the
creation of a strange creature, tales voiced by men are integrated to stitch the novel itself.
According to Victor, each male narrator strives to become more than just a mere man and
considered as extreme. The perception of intrepid artist Robert Walton, particularly in letters
to his sister, is adapted in the framing narrative and re-voiced through Walton's account.
Although the novel incorporates a few female characters, only subtle details have been
incorporated to explore them. Women such as Elizabeth and Justine exist primarily as victims
of violence from their male partners(Williams 4). Equally, Victor begins to create a female
mate in one of the most outrageous scenes in the novel Frankenstein, and subsequently
dismembered it violently and is seen with torn limbs.
Victor Frankenstein is displayed as a calm and philosophical man delighted to explore
facts comparative to the actual world. The character epitomizes attributes of muscularity with
logical and self-possessed nature, along with having profound knowledge in natural
philosophy (Shelley and Meriano 36). Truly, Frankenstein lost all sensation in his quest to
build a monster, attested driven nature that afterward borders on extremism. Besides, the
character depicts careless neglect of social and domestic obligations throughout his research,
and his confession regarding the silence underscores selfishness, mainly through having
apathies to the closes family members (Bloom 20). The Monster parallels the obsessive
nature of its master through his quest on acquiring a female mate and then, on vengeance.
The prodigious of the Monster is denoted through his determination and depth to accomplish
his quest to desolate and destroy the heart of its creator, Victor, and lives up to it. Thus,
Frankenstein's long-life torment denotes the subsequent consecration of his creation, the
Monster (Britton 15). In this context, the presentation of male characters in Frankenstein
typifies the male gender as exceedingly single-minded and self-absorbed. In other words,
male characters typically exhibit the epitome of Victorian traits, mainly in their unreserved
negligence of the domestic sphere, leaving it to women.
In discussing his creation, the Monster subtly invokes Adam and Eve. The aftermath
of doing so encodes the text concerning the body of the creature as abject and feminine.
Conventionally, the Monster compares the work of God in the creation of man as beautiful
and alluring; yet, his form typifies that of Frankenstein (Shelley and Meriano 34). He
describes it as more horrid that is denoted by the very resemblance. Further, victors quest to
search for the forbidden comprehension is likened to that of Eve, Pandora, and Psyche.
Arguably, the implicit quest of creating a male-dominated society depicts the greatest horrors
of the novel Frankenstein, through male characters that appear as monsters thirsty for human
blood (Bloom 23). Unfortunately, the separation of masculine power from the feminine
sphere prompts the severe destruction of women in British society. The proposition is that the
eradication of women from the public realm promotes numerous social ills.
In the film adaptation, Shelley constructs the Monster's gender based on society and
cultural context but has a complex gender image about most humans (Bloom 36). The
Monster is created outside the usual birthing process, mainly in all mammal. Conventionally,
Victor overlooks the help of a woman in his creation that depicts the predominance of male
characters. On the other hand, Shelly construct a monster in the novel based on its ill traits
such as brutal murder and rebellion(Whale). The novel thereby depicts it as a strange creature
that turned against its benefactor.
Both the film and the novel Frankenstein constructs the theme of the question of
gender and masculinity comprehensively depicted through female experience in male
violence, particularly in British society struggling with gender prejudice. Presumably, the
theme of gender is constructed through diversified characters in the novel Frankenstein.
Shelley integrates sex to explores the distinctions between social-cultural and biological
gender. In the film, the author depicts British society holding to a core belief that one is not
born, but instead turn into a woman. Contrary, the novel integrates sex to typify a social and
cultural construct that is adopted to help distinguish humans in the context of biological
Bloom, H. Mary Shelley's Frankenstein. Infobase Learning, 2013.
Britton, R. "Mary Shelley's Frankenstein: What made the monster monstrous?" Journal of
Analytical Psychology, vol. 60, no. 1, 2015, pp. 1-11, doi:10.1111/1468-5922.12126.
Shelley, M. W., and A. Meriano. Frankenstein: By Mary Shelley; Adapted by Anna
Whale, J. "Frankenstein (1931)." 17 Jan. 2017, www.youtube.com/watch?v=J8qNUB1Fz_U.
Williams, D. L. "Monstrosity and feminism in Frankenstein." 21 Nov. 2015,