If Justine is to be considered the anthropomorphism of Justice, then her unfair trial and death is as ironic as irony can get. Her conflict with the jury is a classic example of the conflict between the actual and the assumed interpretation of the concept. Justice is “all benignity” as Godwin puts it (p. 790), and not “brutishness and inflexibility” as the adherents to the cause of Justice believe. And so Justine remains loyal to the Godwin-ian view of fairness, in all its inevitability and reliance on the “private conviction of individuals” (p. 790), until the very end. When Justine is being tried, she relies on the “great instrument of justice, reason” (Godwin, p.790) and rests her innocence on a “simple explanation of the facts” (Frankenstein,p.80). She lends support for her defense from her past (p.81) by calling character witnesses, in analogy to Godwin’s proposition that history eventually manifests as a fundamental, reformative truth that gives way to Justice.

It can be concluded that Justine embodies the Utopian view of fairness that is a gradual but a voluntary endeavor, as opposed to a violent shift in the social paradigm. That being said, we see that Justine is an isolated character. She has suffered the loss of family, a mentor, and a ward and the hatred of a mother and her society. She has no support. Victor is silent. Even Elizabeth’s support is fickle (p.83, para 2). Justine refuses Elizabeth’s offer to “melt the stony hearts of [Justine’s] enemies” (p.84) and instead resigns herself to her sentence. Her passiveness makes her seem almost like an instrument of fate; like Justice embodied offered to the masses: an ephemeral shortcut to social equilibrium, as Godwin thinks of fairness, just ripe for the taking.

Justine’s exit so early in the novel signifies that true Justice based on logic and reason will play no part in resolving the novel’s conflict. Victor’s inaction despite his knowledge of Justine’s innocence perhaps foreshadows the balancing injustice of the Creature’s survival. In all cases, Justine’s death is a result of “a mistake of [justice’s] adherents” in understanding the true meaning of fairness. And just like this “mistake” is a wrinkle, an anomaly, in the grand scheme of justice, so perhaps will be the resolution of Frankenstein’s conflict.

 

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