Elizabeth is an important character in Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. She is also the most important person in Victor’s life for many reasons. Not only is she beautiful beyond belief, she is also submissive and meek. Elizabeth knows her role in the household and she fulfills her duties without hesitation or complaint. Always concerned for Victor, she is willing to do anything to ensure his happiness. Elizabeth is Victor’s prized possession, that which he must value and protect above all other things. She is his faithful love. Elizabeth’s many qualities classify her as a typical woman of nineteenth-century Victorian England.
Subservience is one of the main characteristics of Victorian English women. They were “taught to be submissive and manipulative” (Kanner 305). Qualities of “selflessness, patience, and outward obedience” were also “required” in women (Prior 96). In contrast to men’s “masculine energy,” women were thought to possess “feminine passivity” that made them incapable of actively venturing into the world with curiosity (Kanner 208). Such false belief on the men’s part, not women’s “feminine passivity,” is what hindered the women from venturing into the world and confined them to the home. Such confinement is evident in the following woman’s diary:
All this time my Lord was in London where he had all and infinite great resort coming to him. He went much abroad to Cocking, to Bowling Alleys, to Plays and Horse Races. . . I stayed in the country having many times a sorrowful and heavy heart . . . so as I may truly say, I am an owl in the desert. (Prior 200)
Similarly, in Frankenstein, while the young Victor Frankenstein and his friend Henry Clerv…
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… Victor as his own.
Elizabeth is subservient, sentimental, nurturing, sacrificial, and beautiful. She possesses all the typical feminine characteristics. Hence, through the images of Elizabeth, Mary Shelley clearly and accurately depicts attitudes toward Victorian women of nineteenth-century England. Elizabeth lives, and dies, the role both Shelley and society had written for her and her real-life sisters.
Kanner, Barbara, ed. The Women of England: From Anglo-Saxon Times to the Present. Hamden: Archon Books, 1979.
Prior, Mary, ed. Women in English Society, 1500-1900. New York: Methuen, 1985.
Shelley, Mary. Frankenstein. Ed. Johanna M. Smith. Boston: Bedford Books, 1992.
Wollstonecraft, Mary. A Vindication of the Rights of Women: An Authoritative Text, Backgrounds, Criticism. Ed. Carol H. Poston. New York: W.W. Norton, 1975.
Our National Energy Policy – Do We Have One?
So how much energy did you use today? Probably you have little or no idea. You are not alone. Unfortunately, this is just one of many resource-related questions that require our attention yet receive little of it. Others include: Which energy sources did you use?; What was the price of the energy per kilowatt-hour produced?; Where did this energy originate from both geologically and geopolitically?; Is the energy source that you used exhaustible?; What social and ecological damage can result from the use of this energy source and how does this compare with other available ones? All of these questions require our attention if we are going to contribute to the dialogue concerning our national energy policy.
You might recognize that the majority of people know little about energy when it comes it geologic, political and economic dimensions. However, do we know so little because it just isn’t important or because we feel that these are matters that our political representatives are expected to grapple with? If it is the former, our collective ignorance does not allow us to make such a judgment. And if it is the latter, aren’t the representatives supposed to be informed by their constituents-namely us? Either way, it is incumbent on us to find out more.
Whether the U.S. government is so interested in Iraq and Afghanistan right now primarily because of the physical threat posed by these Middle Eastern countries or there abundance of energy resources is a subject of considerable debate. However, there is no question that our country currently demands large quantities of foreign energy resources. And, the price paid for these commodities greatly influences our ability to maintain the “American way of life” which is the most ene…
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… more miles to the gallon.
In conclusion, I burned the midnight oil for you so that we might take a closer look at the oil that we burn. Hopefully, we will all begin to take our energy policy more seriously given the seriousness of its consequences.
Bayon, R. (2003) “The Fuel Subsidy We Need.” The Atlantic Monthly, 291 (Jan/Feb), 117-118.
IEO. International Energy Outlook 2002. Department of Energy. Located at
Goldstein, N. (2002) Earth Almanac (2nd edition). Westport, Connecticut: Oryx Press, 528 pp.