Teaching Feminism and Gender Roles through Female Characters in the “Frankenstein” Movie

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Cinema perpetually wields substantial influence as a medium for mirroring, questioning, and molding societal paradigms and viewpoints. The cinematic rendition of Mary Shelley’s magnum opus, “Frankenstein,” unequivocally exemplifies this phenomenon. While Victor Frankenstein’s created being frequently seized the limelight, a latent narrative unveils itself, wherein the female personas assume a pivotal role in addressing the tenets of feminism and the complex tapestry of gender constructs. A discerning exploration of these characters bestows us with invaluable revelations concerning the broader societal ethos encircling gender dynamics and the multifaceted realm of women’s societal functions during the epoch of Shelley, a context that resonates even in our contemporary milieu.

Analyzing the Female Characters 

Elizabeth and Justine, two of the most prominent female characters in “Frankenstein,” offer intriguing lenses through which traditional gender roles can be assessed. Elizabeth, for instance, embodies the traditional ideals of femininity in her era: she’s gentle, nurturing, and dedicated to Victor. Yet, her tragic fate emphasizes the vulnerability of women in a society dominated by masculine ambitions. Justine, falsely accused and ultimately executed, highlights the way women can be victimized in a society eager to assign blame and mete out justice without proper scrutiny. 

As Frankenstein is a novel that every literature student will learn about, they will surely have to write at least an essay on it. Getting an education means going beyond the traditional ways of learning and trying to see the same problem from a distinct perspective. You can check this website and learn about the literary devices in Frankenstein, but also be inspired by a legit essay crafted by legit writing services with an excellent essay service review. You can learn more about the female characters in this novel, and about how the novel gained so much attention over the years by checking some essays written by professionals. Taking a look into how the characters of this novel interact is essential to understanding feminism and gender roles. 

The interactions of these female characters with their male counterparts further illuminate the story’s themes. For instance, Elizabeth’s relationship with Victor underscores the consequences of unchecked ambition and its impact on those who are closest to the individual. The tragedy that befalls these women is intertwined with the male characters’ actions, emphasizing how gender dynamics influence and shape the novel’s trajectory.

Feminist Themes and Interpretations 

The cinematic adaptation of “Frankenstein” brims with feminist motifs, albeit subtly interwoven into the narrative fabric. Notably, the restricted autonomy and self-determination experienced by female personas such as Elizabeth and Justine resonate with more profound feminist dialogues concerning the systemic disempowerment of women within the societal framework. Elizabeth’s circumscribed role within Victor’s sphere, evolving from a devoted betrothed figure to a tragic victim, poignantly underscores the societal expectation for women to assume auxiliary positions in furtherance of men’s aspirations, even at personal cost.

Furthermore, the tragic trajectory of Justine’s life can be construed as a scathing indictment of a culture that expeditiously suppresses and penalizes women, mirroring the overarching apprehensions about the marginalization of women’s voices and self-determination. These characters and their ordeals serve as poignant exemplars of the formidable impediments women encounter when endeavoring to establish their identities and self-determination within the confines of a patriarchal dominion.

Using Film as an Educational Tool 

The intricate tapestry woven within “Frankenstein” presents educators with a profusion of opportunities to engage in profound discussions concerning feminism and the intricacies of gender roles. By directing their focus toward the cinematic representation of female personas, instructors can nurture the development of critical thinking skills in their students. For instance, educators can instigate dialogues questioning whether Shelley’s depiction serves as a discerning critique or a mere reflection of the societal milieu of her era.

Within the classroom milieu, pedagogical activities may encompass immersive role-playing exercises, where students enact pivotal scenes from the film, emphasizing the nuances of gender dynamics. Alternatively, group deliberations can be encouraged, inviting students to draw parallels between the female characters in “Frankenstein” and those featured in other canonical literary works. Furthermore, students can be prompted to articulate their insights through the composition of essays delving into the perceived feminist subtexts, or conversely, the absence thereof in the cinematic rendition, thereby cultivating an analytical perspective.


The film adaptation of “Frankenstein” transcends its conventional classification as a horror tale or a mere exploration of scientific ambition. Instead, it serves as a vibrant canvas upon which the intricate nuances of feminism and gender roles are deftly portrayed through its female characters. Harnessing this cinematic masterpiece as an educational tool possesses the potential to imbue students with a profound comprehension of feminist principles and the intricate tapestry of gender dynamics, a knowledge that extends beyond the realm of fiction and finds resonance in the real world.

As educators, it remains paramount to diversify pedagogical approaches and resource materials, and what better means than to amalgamate the realms of cinema and classical literature to initiate reflective conversations on feminism and the multifaceted terrain of gender roles. This holistic approach holds the promise of molding a generation attuned to both the subtle and overt manifestations of gender biases, not only within the realm of literature but also in the fabric of everyday life.

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Lee Clarke
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