By ~ Amber Loper

In Burke’s “Reflections on the Revolution in France”, he talks briefly about the importance of beauty in the role of natural order. Should anything disturb the natural order of things, justice, and therefor beauty, die. A minor character in Mary Shelley’s novel, Frankenstein, plays a crucial role in advancing this rhetoric. Justine, a servant to the Frankenstein household, favorite to the late Mrs. Frankenstein, and serving the family for most of her life, ends up tragically accused for the murder of their youngest boy, William. The family claims to love her dearly, but at the appearance of the smallest amount of evidence, they all turn their backs on her, except Victor who knows for a fact she is innocent. She is a pretty young woman, death_of_the_justice_by_quadraro-d6sapo4.pngobedient and humble in her ways, which makes her death all the more poignant. Burke examines the effects of the French Revolution, saying, “never, never more, shall we behold that generous loyalty to rank and sex, that proud submission, that dignified obedience…”(p.70). He believes the French Revolution was the end to such niceties and never again would society prosper as well as it had. Such is the way that Justine accepts her fate. She is well aware of her rank in society as a servant, and she is a woman. Being the epitome of her sex and class, she obediently confesses to a murder she did not commit. In her final moments with friends, she says, “learn from me, dear lady, to submit in patience to the will of Heaven”(FRANKENSTEIN p.83). Justine believes her death is not the failings of society, but an act of God’s will, something far beyond anyone’s control and it is not to be tampered with and only met with patience. Her death, as is the French Revolution, is the end of Justice in Frankenstein’s world.

Burke would admire Justine’s actions, thinking her an exemplary woman. Maybe even comparable to Marie Antoinette. He briefly mentions Antoinette’s death, saying, “in the last extremity she will save herself from the last disgrace, and that if she must fall, she will fall by no ignoble hand”(BURKE p.75). That is to say, a woman in the face of death, no matter what ranking, must go down gracefully, not fighting or begging, that is not the way of life. To fight back is disgraceful, piteous, and frankly, ugly. The French Revolution is a wart on society in Burke’s eyes. Similar, everything in Frankenstein after Justine’s death goes against the dignified, obedient world Burke believes in. Dr. Frankenstein descends into madness, tries to fight back against his monster and all sense of justice becomes lost on him.