All writing has some intent, demonstrating some struggle that has lived on in society. Shelley like other romantic writers of the 18th and 19th Century, tried to purely express their progressive agendas. While Shelly may have written Frankenstein with the intention of “petrifying the reader”, the inequality that she often wrote on became central to the novel Frankenstein. In Frankenstein, the readers constantly are shown conflicts in appearances, Shelly creates set oppositions: creator and creature, good and evil, monstrous and human, the burdens of understanding and the normalcy of the common man. The ideas of the Shelly`s writings take criticism on social conventions and customs. It is the unforgettable mistake of Frankenstein and his misuse of authority and pure subjective judgment. Pure subjective judgement and the division between people over what social conventions design as important.
As its historical context reflects, oppression is an important theme in the text. The novel itself is set in a time of social upheaval. While oppressed citizens are fighting for their rights, the lower-class fight for what they understand as their “God given” rights, with other struggles plaguing the social norms of the time. Shelley’s work plays on society’s fear of creating monsters that go out of control and create revolutions. The fear of the upper class or any person with power, knowledge, fears retribution for their actions. As Shelley states, “I had been the author of unalterable evils, and I lived in daily fear lest the monster whom I had created should perpetrate some new wickedness. I had an obscure feeling that all was not over and that he would still commit some signal crime, which by its enormity should almost efface the recollection of the past.” (Pg. 103) Shelley’s upbringing was one of turmoil with the untimely death of her mother and the beratement by her step mother. Yet, her upbringing was in the environment of the social elite. Dr. Frankenstein represents those elite in power with this work. It is important to consider, then, that Dr. Frankenstein himself is indeed an educated character from a wealthy business background: “My family is one of the most distinguished of Geneva. My ancestors had been for many years counselors and syndics; and my father had filled several public situations with honor and reputation. He was respected by all who knew him, for his integrity and indefatigable attention to public business” (Shelley 40). Yet, the experiment devolves into a monster without any control, which Shelley equates to a rebelling force. Shelley states, “more than class conflict, for it refers to the view that all change is the product of the struggle between opposites generated by contradictions inherent in all events, ideas, and movements. A thesis collides with its antitheses, finally reaching synthesis, which generates its own antithesis, and so on, thereby producing change” (Dobie Pg. 85). Dr. Frankenstein is a symbol for oppressive society. However, Shelly cleverly provides a parallel in Dr. Frankenstein creation.
Similarly, Frankenstein`s monster is a beacon for oppressed people. The monster is the proletariat that revolts causing division and social change. The monster, in a bliss form of irony, is created by the bourgeoisie from the discarded and useless parts of society (human bodies). This is similar to the proletariat as noted by Brooks, “Beyond the motives of his eloquence, it is important to register the simple fact of Shelley’s decision to make the Monster the most eloquent creature in the novel. This hideous and deformed creature, far from expressing himself in grunts and gestures, speaks and reasons with the highest elegance, logic, and persuasiveness. As a verbal creation, he is the very opposite of the monstrous: he is a sympathetic and persuasive participant in Western culture.” (Brooks 371) The monster’s simple lifestyle reflects the lifestyle of the workers; he does not need the luxury of the aristocrats but only a meager amount of nutritious food to eat and a simple bed. Thus, his very composition is symbolic of the laborers who were composed of many different types of people, larger in numbers, physically stronger, and less dependent on luxury than the upper classes. Yet as the monster progresses in his learning her becomes more corrupted by the ways of the upper class and is force to recognize the faults that he is built upon and from. As Shelley states, “Believe me, Frankenstein: I was benevolent; my soul glowed with love and humanity: but am I not alone, miserably alone? You, my creator, abhor me.” (Pg. 99). The divisiveness of human social relationships has plagued the relationships between the upper class, lower classes and all the people and things that will their way into the divisive class structures that operate in our world today.
While Shelly worked on Frankenstein her name, due to her works and her mother, resonated throughout Europe as a force to overpower all others for their gender criticisms. Those criticisms of inequality to the unaided eye appear only to be regarding then issues of gender inequality. Gender inequality exists today much like it did during Shelly’s time yet, that inequality is only a subset of the many forms of inequality that has been a reason for writing for shelly and many other women. Gender lenses and issues like nearly all struggles are only subsets of the vast issue of inequality that Marxism critiques. As feminist scholar, Lise Vogel, states “‘Marxist efforts to address the problem of women’s liberation have been haunted by a hidden debate between two perspectives, only one of which situates the problem within the framework of Marx’s analysis of the processes of overall social reproduction’. (Vogel Pg. 8) We see the struggle for inequality in all assets of life and Shelly recognizes this and writes on it,
Frankenstein`s monster and Dr. Frankenstein are as much a depiction of the social inequalities as other works by Shelly and her mother. Dr. Frankenstein’s monster reminds us that oppression creates monsters and a powerful force to be paralleled. More than anything else, it reminds us that. Any society that exploits and oppresses creates opponents who are capable of overthrowing that society. It is precisely this fear that is played upon in the horror story. All oppression will inevitability be rebelled against because the power of the oppressors can never stop the collective actions of the oppressed.