Exploration The Radical Realists For Women In 'Frankenstein' By Mary Shelley
In the novel, Frankenstein, written by Mary Shelley, Justine appears briefly in the story. She plays quite a significant role when it comes to the advance of Frankenstein’s character and also in the course of recounting the events in the novel. Justine is a servant in Frankenstein’s family, and she has significant encounters with the monster created by Victor Frankenstein. Although Justine is a minor character, she is portrayed as a two-dimensional being, and she is only included in the novel to serve a purpose. She ends up a somewhat important figure in the story. The primary aim of this essay is to analyze how Justine’s trial advances Frankenstein’s character.
Justine is first presented to the readers in chapter six, in a letter sent to Victor by Elizabeth. Within the message, Elizabeth tries to catch up with the events happening in Frankenstein’s household. One of them being the return of Justine as their servant. Through the letter, readers are in a position to learn how the Frankensteins treated and perceived Justine. For instance, through the message, one can determine that Frankenstein’s never considered Justine past the station. Besides, Elizabeth’s description of Justine draws parallels to Elizabeth and Victor’s mother, who victor believes as the most important woman in his life.
Justine next appears in the novel after William, who is the brother of Victor, had been slain, and she is detained for the criminality. Nevertheless, Frankenstein does not believe Justine is guilty of the crime, and he is convinced that the creature has committed the crime. Elizabeth, on the other hand, believes in the instinctive goodness of Justine. Elizabeth and Frankenstein’s perception of Justine’s innocence underscores her virtue. Besides, her employer’s impression further highlights how Frankenstein commits a grave injustice by allowing Justine to be executed for a crime she did not commit. In the course of the hearing, Elizabeth testifies in her defense. On the contrary, Frankenstein chooses to remain silent despite having the power to prove that Justine was indeed innocent. Victor claims that he is afraid to testify in defense of Justine because he was scared of being labeled as a madman. Even after Victor and Elizabeth visit Justine after her conviction, Frankenstein is unable to confess his failure despite the desperate appeal Justine makes on behalf of her innocence. Frankenstein’s actions point out that he is a cold-hearted man who is willing to use other individuals as scapegoats to cover up for his misdeeds.
Through Frankenstein, the story further exposes the radical realism for women. Besides, the hearing also provides a space to critique the class system, which leads to Justine’s predetermined culpability on the basis of her social positional as well as gender. Even before Justine’s conviction, Frankenstein correctly predicts that a jury would never convict a well-trained scientist with Justine, who served as a scapegoat so near at hand. Frankenstein does not present the elusive creature to court, and he clearly understands that the court would not subject him to discipline. Therefore, throughout the trial, Frankenstein tends to support the failures of the justice system during the French Revolution. Clearly, through his predictions of the jury proceedings, Frankenstein is quite aware that the justice system modeled to conduct Justine’s trial is based on a faulty and erroneous agenda supported and driven by tyrants like him. Unlike the judicial systems held across the world for which the concept of innocent until proven guilty, Justine is considered guilty right from the start just because she has the photo, Caroline Frankenstein, in her pockets. Frankenstein fully supports the failures of justice systems during the French revolution by supporting the verdict of biased jury members. Frankenstein is equally unjust, for he chooses to believe the decision of the pre-biased judge who had already determined Justine’s fate (Reese 36).
Justine’s trial also presents Frankenstein as a second-hand murderer and a coward, for he is the man behind the creation of the monster. Frankenstein grapples with the decision on whether to present himself before the court as the man behind the creation of the creature, which murders William. He however proves that he was not ready for such a confession since it would be “looked upon it as the raving of insanity” (Tropp 78). He further believes that the “strange nature of the animal would elude all pursuit even if he were so far credited as to persuade my relatives to commence it” (Tropp 100). Frankenstein further convinces himself to remain quiet about the issue believing that even if the court believed about the monster, they would never capture it. Even after finding out that Justine had been convicted, Frankenstein has nothing to testify on her behalf. He only claims that he “knows the murderer, Justine is innocent” (Tropp 101). Due to the injustices which prevailed during the French revolution, Frankenstein’s utterances would do nothing to help Justine’s fate.
As the bond between Frankenstein and the monster continues to deteriorate, so does the standard view of justice. William, an innocent kid, is killed by the beast. Amidst all the chaos, Justine is also convicted for a murder she did not commit. Throughout these occurrences, Mary shelley tries to imply that despite the concept of creating a perfect world, it is quite difficult or even impossible to achieve it primarily due to the arrogance of human beings, which gets into the way resulting in injustices. Justine’s trial presents Frankenstein as a very ignorant and arrogant man, for he creates his greatest enemy. The creature that Frankenstein creates does not just cause clumsy havoc but strategic and well calculated crimes. The animal clearly understands its actions, and it further understands its power to commit these horrible crimes. Justine’s death proves that Frankenstein’s arrogance had led him to unleash a potent and unstoppable force. However, Frankenstein soon realizes his mistakes and torture himself endlessly, for he feels guilty of the deaths which resulted from his creation. He thinks that Justine’s death had impacted him the most compared to the other two deaths he is responsible for. He even refers to himself as “the murderer of Justine and William” (Dussinger 55). He believes that his wanton experiments brought about tragedies, which were quite hard for him to bear.
Victor Frankenstein witnessed Justine’s trial, and he is filled with guilt. Frankenstein knows that she is innocent, but he cannot admit it, for he is a coward and an unjust man. Declaring Justine’s innocence would implicate his actions, and it would also reveal the existence of the creature. Despite Frankenstein decisions, Elizabeth testifies for defense of Justine, the court is not swayed, and she is sentenced to hang the next day. Therefore, it is quite evident that Justine’s demise echoes throughout the story, making her one of essential minor characters.
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