In Frankenstein, the death of Justine Moritz serves as a crucial foil to the monster and plays an important role in the development of the plot. From a Marxist perspective, the monster represents the downtrodden masses, an underclass of proletariats who can only break this cycle of enslavement by revolution. The monster’s self-actualization thus serves as the class-consciousness that can organize and fight for its own interests. Justine’s death figures prominently in Marxist terminology because it challenges the very foundations of such an interpretation, one that rests upon a history of materialism. While Justine is a servant, she grew up with Victor Frankenstein, the scientist, and the Frankenstein family treated her with dignity and respect. Victor’s image, which is that of a ruthless capitalist, is thus shattered when we learn of the relative dignity she grew up with and the lack of exploitation or alienation from society. Her death bedevils the Marxist because according to such an analysis, revolution from below in which the proletariat unites to end the suffering to which they are subjected is the dialectic of history. Justine’s death changes this entire dialectic because she becomes a victim of Marxism, the very ideology that ostensibly claims to liberate her. Her death symbolizes Marxism gone awry, a revolution in which the persecuted end up becoming the persecutors. Edmund Burke, no fervent supporter of the French Revolution, said that such a revolution would only lead to a world “polluted by massacre, and strewed with scattered limbs and mutilated carcasses” (pg. 71). Burke totally rejects the Marxist conception of Justine’s death and instead terms such a philosophy as part of the “great history-piece of the massacre of innocents” (pg. 73). While Marxism was supposed to liberate someone of her status, instead it ended up claiming her life. The monster, which symbolizes a noble proletariat rising up in Marxist terminology, wreaks havoc and destruction to destroy the very people it is seeking to represent. Burke would see Justine’s death as a wrongdoing, which explicates how revolution, initially conceived of favorably to the masses in order to rectify longstanding grievances, becomes increasingly bloody and leads to only more chaos and destruction. While Burke favored the gradual equalization of conditions in society, he would view the death of Justine as total injustice, something that would run counter to the tenets of an esteemed civilization. Perhaps he would best capture her death by saying, “All the superadded ideas, furnished from the wardrobe of a moral imagination…are to be exploded as a ridiculous, absurd, and antiquated fashion” (pg. 77). While these ideas promote Marxism might be praiseworthy in theory, in reality they would only lead to unmitigated bloodshed and insane brutality. Justine symbolized an innocent servant, one neither betrothed to capitalism nor Marxism, but a victim of both. While neither a slave nor part of the proletariat, her death ignites the larger dilemma of humanity in the novel. Justine would never have been executed had the monster not killed William, but her death could have equally been averted had Victor spoken out in her defense. Her death marks the death of humanity, something described as “savage and brutal” by Burke, in which the life of an ordinary, innocent citizen is taken away (pg. 80). This spearheads larger questions about the failure of Marxism to provide a remedy to the discontents of the proletariat, and shows the corrupting power of even the proletariat. In Marxist terms, the ruling class was overthrown only to result in a dictatorship of the proletariat, where even moderate, guiltless people are victimized.  

Justine’s public execution must therefore be seen solely as a tragedy. Marx claimed “all great, world-historical facts and personages occur, as it were, twice…the first time as tragedy, the second as farce” (pg. 41). The execution of Justine, an innocent moderate who neither identified with the extremes of capitalism and Marxism, represents the Reign of Terror during the French Revolution. During the Reign, opponents of the radical revolutionary government led by Maximilien de Robespierre were summarily executed and purged, ostensibly for being enemies of the revolution. The failure of Victor to defend Justine, and the creature’s conflicted view of Justine in which he realizes he will never have her beauty and that she’d treat him horribly just as Victor did, result in the death of a spotless human being. Because the French revolution, according to both Burke and Marx, was truly unique and the first of its kind, the period of political instability and terror that followed it was also truly unprecedented. While revolutions had indeed occurred before, nothing quite similar to the reign of Terror had ever occurred before. Marx said, “Earlier revolutions required world-historical recollections in order to drug themselves concerning their own content. In order to arrive at its content, the revolution of the nineteenth century must led the dead bury their dead” (pg. 43). The French revolution only brought change because the bourgeoisie was able to deny the dialectic of history, which necessitated that the oppressed class would always rise up against its capitalist persecutors. Because this dialectic had not been established, the capitalists were able to disguise their true intentions. However, the revolutions of the nineteenth century were able to use that dialectic to truly understand the actual intentions of the capitalist ruling class and were historically conscious in that sense. Therefore, the French revolution must be seen as a singular event in history, necessitating that we see Justine’s death as tragedy instead of farce. 

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