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Frankenstein is full of the ideas of its time. The monster’s story is a study in Rousseauism. The landscape is Wordsworthian. Byronic and Beethovenian images can be detected in the notion of exploring, going beyond. Similarly the presentation of women in the novel is typical of its time. Men are the explorers, the scientists, the travelers, while women stay at home and offer affection, stability and compassion. Walton at the beginning of the novel is writing letters to his “dear sister” at home, a wife, who is “my dear, excellent Margaret” and whom he thanks “for all your love and kindness” (Vol I, Letter I, 18), while he asks “do I not deserve to accomplish some great purpose?” (ibid, 17). He writes of the master of the ship, who had planned to marry a Russian lady. He selflessly released her from the engagement when she revealed that she loved someone else, but her father insisted on the original match for financial reasons. “She was bathed in tears, and, throwing herself at his feet, intreated him to spare her” (Vol I, Letter II, 21). She is entirely in thrall to male power, and only the generosity of the master saves her. “What a noble fellow!” (ibid, 21). Such episodes simply reflect the conditions of the time. It is unlikely that Mary Shelley’s aim in this episode was to stir rebellion. Walton sees his sister as a mother figure. His youth was spent “under your gentle and feminine fosterage” (ibid, 20) which has refined and civilized him. This the monster notably lacks.


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