Discuss the significance of the role of the mother in "Frankenstein".
Throughout Mary Shelley's "Frankenstein", there are many examples of mother and child relationships that are expressed both implicitly and explicitly. The crucial element of the inclusion of the role of the mother in the book is that it allows Shelley to comment about the role of the mother within a male-dominated society. In addition, it allows certain aspects of the characters to be revealed to the reader.
An important example of the role of the mother in "Frankenstein" is that of Victor Frankenstein's own mother in his early years, who is very much a traditional mother. Frankenstein describes her as being a loving woman, giving him "tender caresses", guiding him throughout the early years of his upbringing and teaching him right from wrong. The mother shows a concern for the child not merely as an object, but as a human being- an independent self. The nurturing nature of the mother can be contrasted, however, with Frankenstein's father who struggles to understand his son and view the son as a possession. The best example of the father's lack of understanding is his reaction upon viewing the natural philosophy books being read by Victor. The father says to Victor: "My dear Victor, do not waste your time upon this; it is sad trash". This reaction had a profound effect on Frankenstein, and they also emphasised the unloving relationship between the father and son, which can also be contrasted with that between the mother and son. .
The inclusion of Frankenstein's mother in the story is not only significant in demonstrating the important role of the mother within the family unit and within society, but it is also important in revealing aspects of Frankenstein's character. Frankenstein's dream is the most blatant aspect of the novel that does this. After the creation of the monster, Frankenstein has a nightmare in which he embraces and kisses Elizabeth before he realises that he is holding the body of his mother.