Tag Archive: justice


Butchered Justice

In the novel Frankenstein, we readers witness the execution of Justine, the maid of the Frankenstein household, for the death of William. Although she was never guilty, she was still put on trial and found guilty for planted evidence. After reading Mary Wollstonecraft’s A Vindication of the Rights of Men, the connections between Justine/Justice and the writing material is very strong.

For instance, Wollstonecraft focuses the majority of her paper on the idea of beauty, and how it is treated towards Justine and all women found in Frankenstein. Wollstonecraft quotes that “littleness and weakness are the very essence of beauty” (47). With Justine being a female, this same idea of beauty collided with her, and her wretched state as she goes on trial, knowing that she herself is innocent. At this point in the novel, Justine is tear-faced and broken to hear the news of her guilt from the jury. Wollstonecraft shows us that in order to be considered beautiful by men, we must appear smaller than them, and act as if we have a necessity for males in our lives in order to survive. Justine was not able to fit in that category, since she was “guilty” of William’s murder, which led to her demise.

-Jody Omlin

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By Maya Carranza

Just like most women, Mary Wollstonecraft, believed that all women should be treated equally. So how is it that her daughter, Mary Shelley, wrote a book that totally lacks a strong female role? In the novel Frankenstein, although men are the main characters, the novel is full of mistakes that they made, which can be seen as a true feminist point illustrating that all women are the main foundation of society and that they aren’t just clueless minds behind a pretty face and body.

Justine goes from being very “gentle” and “pretty” to a monster when she is falsely accused and executed for the murder of Frankenstein’s brother, William. She states, “I did confess, but I confessed a lie… Ever since I was condemned, my confessor has besieged me; he threatened and menaced, until I almost began to think that I was the monster that he said I was.” (83) Although Victor could have saved her, she confessed to a crime she did not commit because she was pressured into it but still accepted her fate. This also comes to show that Justines words meant nothing because society sees women as “little, smooth, delicate, fair creatures”(47), as said by Mary Wollstonecraft, who aren’t capable of having their own thoughts.

– Bianca Lopez Munoz

In William Godwin’s piece, “Enquiry Concerning Political Justice”, Godwin expresses that in his opinion, a revolution shouldn’t be violent and resentful. It should be a be a peaceful event where wealth is distributed among everyone equally. An event where all social classes have a conversation, have a mutual understanding of what everyone wants, and unite. Instead of men taking advantage of each other’s distresses, and in self interest, seek momentary gratification, that they should love liberty, love equality, pursuit arts, and have a desire for knowledge. And through this men will sympathize with each other and therefore a revolution would be a tranquil and orderly phenomenon.

By definition or mutual understanding, Justice is fair behavior and treatment, it is moral righteousness. During revolutions people seek justice and do things in the name of justice, good or bad. When I went back to the parts of Frankenstein where Justine was accused, tried, and executed for the murder of William, as I was reading, I would replace Justine’s name with the word Justice and it was incredibly interesting to see how well some passages worked with the change of language. “A servant in Geneva does not mean the same thing as a servant in France or England, Justine… learned the duties of a servant; a condition which…does not include the idea of ignorance, and a sacrifice of the dignity of a human being” (66). Now replace Justine with the word Justice in this quote. Justice is a servant. Ignorance and the sacrafice of human dignity is not part of justice, like in England or France (where people were murdered and it was extremely chaotic and unjust). When Victor finally gets back to his father’s home in Geneva he tells Ernest, “You are all mistaken; I know the murderer. Justine, poor Justine, is innocent” (77). Again replace Justine with the word justice. Justice is innocent. The evil things like murder that people do in the name of justice actually have nothing to do with justice and it is just a way to defend their actions. During Justine’s trial, Elizabeth appeals for Justine and says, “when I see a fellow creature about to parish through the cowardice of her pretended friends…”(81). This again, goes back to people using justice as a tool to justify and not take responsibility for their wrong doings during revolution. I remind you that all of this is happening because Victor Frankenstein decided to bring to life, a creature, which killed his brother, which indirectly killed Justine. Victor know’s he holds some blame to the death of his brother but refuses to speak up about it since he fears people will think he is insane. Victor did what William Godwin thinks people should not do. Victor took advantage of Justine’s distress, and in letting someone else be blamed for the death of William, he found momentary gratification for his sins but it wasn’t too long before he became guilty of the death of Justine. The revolution of the creature shouldn’t be violent and resentful as are the actions of the creature and Victor. I believe these things could have been avoided if Victor hadn’t run from his creation. Had he stayed and like, Godwin stated, had a conversation and sympathyzed with the creature, things could have possibly has a more “natural and tranquil progress”(Godwin).

By: Leena Maria Beddawi

In Mary Wollstonecraft’s A Vindication of the Rights of Men, the feeling of melancholy is severely prevalent, not only in his admonishment of the form of justice the we internalize in society and politics, but also of the misogyny that has embedded itself into their very culture, surrounded them in all forms of life. Told best in this statement, “you love the church, your country, and its laws, you repeatedly tell us, because they deserve to be loved; but from you this is not a panegyric: weakness and indulgence are the only incitements to love and confidence that you can discern, and it cannot be denied that the tender mother you venerate deserves, on this score, all your affection” (51).  Her view of men, and  the good-natured man view of a man, that loves his country but not his women, and how the men were vehemently believed to be of higher value than women, and especially in his political vantage point, this was amoral and misogynistic. Wollstonecraft would look at this story of Justine’s trial (or lack thereof) as a product of the already messed up system.

Chivalry

In “Frankenstein”, Justine is put on trial for the murder of the young William Frankenstein, and if Wollstonecraft were to read this story in the way Shelley described it, he would gag at the very disturbing story. Victor Frankenstein can save Justine, he is the only one who is incredibly certain of her innocence, “Nothing in human shape could have destroyed the fair child. He was the murderer! I could not doubt it. The mere presence of the idea was an irresistible proof of the fact.” (75), because he created the very thing that killed his brother, William. But, since Victor was a self-serving man with a God-complex, he believed himself to be of higher value, even if he did feel guilt, he still allowed it to take place, still allowed Justine to be imprisoned, and still believed his life held more meaning. Wollstonecraft would most certainly see this as a reflection of the universal view of the women in their society since they saw them as less than, and even then, she knew “such a glorious change can only be produced by liberty, inequality of rank must ever impede the growth of virtue” (48-49). Although, in this case, liberty is not in question, since Victor merely had to tell the truth to show his respect or morality.

Sabrina Vazquez

William Godwin in the excerpt from his book Enquiry Concerning Political Justice, writes about the common and basic axiom of embracing the good and bad in life. He states, “The cause of justice is the cause of humanity. Its advocates should be penetrated with universal good will.” (789). Justine through her trial and conviction seems to embrace her decision. Even after tried guilty states that she is prepared and has accepted that she will leave the “sad and bitter world”, because she has submitted to the will of heaven (Shelley, 83). She is innocent of a highly serious crime and sentenced to death, yet she does not let that taint her convictions. Even though her death is not just, she remains true to herself and her true sentiments. This very much compliments Godwin’s thoughts of who we should remain when tested in face of fairness.

In Reflections on The Revolution in France, Edmund Burke argues that the revolution destroyed the beauty of nature and he explains this when Marie Antoinette was about to be executed. For instance, Burke describes Antoinette’s execution as “I thought ten thousand swords must have leaped from their scabbards to avenge even a look that threatened her with insult. -But the age of chivalry is gone.” (76) In other words, Burke was trying to convey how beauty should have prevented the death of Antoinette since the beauty of a woman was all that justified the condemnations of one self, but that was no longer the case. In Mary Shelley’s novel Justine Moritz, was an innocent girl who was convicted of murdering William Frankenstein, when in fact she was wrongfully accused. Justine was described as beautiful and loving towards the family she cared for, but that didn’t save her from her death. Even though Victor Frankenstein knew about this social injustice that was about to occur he didn’t inform anyone that his own creation was the reason William Frankenstein died. Therefore, this goes back to Burke’s argument about how the age of chivalry is gone because Victor Frankenstein didn’t stand up for his actions and instead acted as a coward. Although Justine says “I did confess; but I confessed a lie. I confessed, that I might obtain absolution; but now that falsehood lies heavier at my heart than all my other sins.” (83) Justine lied because she knew deep down that even the townspeople wanted to execute her and wouldn’t believe a word she said. These people are a symbol of a revolution out to destroy beauty and innocent individuals.

 

-Guadalupe Andrade

Esther Quintanilla

In his essay Enquiry Concerning Political Justice, the ideas that are posed by William Godwin are very prevalent in the death of Justine in the novel Frankenstein. In his essay, Godwin focuses greatly on equality among the different classes in England and France and the knowledge that should be distributed throughout all the population. This idea is reflected in Frankenstein through the way the readers view Justine. Elizabeth, when introducing Justine, describes her as a valued and important member of her family. “Justine, thus received in our family, learned the duties of a servant; a condition which, in our fortunate country, does not include the idea of ignorance, and a sacrifice of the dignity of a human being” (66). Although Justine was a servant, she was not treated so. She was treated with respect and was not the stereotypical depiction of a servant in France or England. Even Victor himself states, “A servant in Geneva does not mean the same thing as a servant in France and England” (66). The idea of equality among the different classes, or even the abolishment of the classes themselves, is an idea that stems from Godwin’s thinking. He believes that justice can only be achieved through the equality of all, “the cause of justice is the cause of humanity” (Godwin, 789).

Although Justine is treated equally to others in Geneva, she eventually is treated as a servant would be in France or England. The execution of Justine is an event that contradicts the ideas of equality and justice, those in which her character is shaped around.  She is put to death for a crime that she did not commit but still admits to because of the pressure put upon her as a servant in her society. Equality is not seen in her conviction and she is not given the choice to have justice. Justine realizes her inequality and shares her thoughts with Elizabeth and Vicotr when they visit her to say goodbye: “’ I leave a sad and bitter world; and if you remember me, and think of me as of one unjustly condemned, I am resigned to the fate awaiting me’” (83). This contradicts the Godwinian ideas that introduced Justine and forces her to become a mere replaceable servant. In the eyes of Godwin, Geneva becomes a place where justice just barely out of reach and ultimately unattainable.

justine2

I find Justine’s death rather interesting, whilst reading the passages regarding her I noticed a few things. On page 66 when Elizabeth describes Justine in her letter to Victor she says, “‘…and I recollect you once remarked that if you were in an ill-humour, one glance form Justine could dissipate it, for the same reason that Aristo gives concerning the beauty of Angelica—she looked so frank-hearted and happy.’” When I read this, I automatically thought of the fact that Elizabeth basically devalues Justine and her personality and just makes her out to be one thing—pretty. The first thing that comes to mind when she thinks of Justine is her beauty. She is objectified, and everything that the reader comes to learn about her is automatically forgotten or disregarded because the only thing that matters when it comes to her is her beauty. This reminded me of Mary Wollstonecraft’s essay where she says society—specifically men have taught women that they were created by God to only be pretty. And because they were created to only be beautiful they don’t need to bother with things like “truth, fortitude, and humanity,” which are “within the rigid pale of manly morals…” (47).

In her essay, Wollstonecraft is basically trying to argue that women should not just be regarded as objects used for pleasure or aesthetic purposes. Instead, they should revolutionize and show the world that they are capable of anything they want to do, and should be held as equal to males. They should not be seen as a “lower class” just because they are women, they should also not be seen as lesser or inferior to men because of their gender. Their gender is not something that should hold them down in the eyes of society. Instead it should be something that uplifts them and empowers them to progress in the world. Because they are just as capable as men are when it comes to having certain characteristics or doing certain things.

-Laura Mateo Gallegos

Justice according to Goodwin would be taking in the principle of morality and truth and practice it within the community.”The cause if justice is the cause of humanity. Its advocates should be penetrated with universal good-will.” (789). When thinking about justice I think about receiving what is fair with the appropriate evidence. In the case of Justine in Frankenstein justice was not served. While reading Frankenstein I spent a majority of my time wondering who the next victim was gonna be. William was the first, and consequently Justine was the second. Justine holding onto her innocence defending herself was wrongfully accused of murdering William. Justine’s death represents injustice.” I commit my cause to the justice of my judges, yet I see no room for hope… I must be condemned, although I would pledge my salvation on my innocence.” (80).  Justice should stem from evidence and truth not from what the majority thinks or believes from lack of evidence. Justine had many people who knew for many years, knew her character yet denied to defend her in the court of law due to “fear, and hatred of the crime.” Justine unfortunately saw no more hope in fighting for herself, she thought ultimately that the only way to save herself was to convince herself that their “truth” was the only truth. ” In this we should give way to no discouragement.” (790). Justine was  discouraged to continue fighting for herself which goes against Goodwin’s words. “Truth is the most powerful of all causes.” (791). The truth was heavily ignored in the case of Justine. There are always more than one side to a story, Justine’s side was no heard.

-Dariana Lara

“Ever since I was condemned my confessor has besieged me; threatened and menaced, until I began to think that I was the monster he said I was….all I looked on me as a wretched doomed ignominy and perdition.” (Frankenstein Page 84).

In Frankenstein Justice dies in an unjust and predetermined death by her enemies. The passage above expresses some of the last words that Justine spoke. Revolution to the opposing class will always be seen with resistance and opposition. Justine died in the eyes of her enemies, that looked past her own pain and troubles. Her enemies who had very little evidence and even pre-destined her conviction. Thus, Justine’s character is the lower/poor working class that despite their attempts to overcome injustices such as low wages, labor alienation, child labor, etc mankind’s humanity was gone. Thus, Justine’s death can be seen as the death of justice for the working class/poor even in their suffering.

However, we also have others such as William Godwin who critiques the way in which the French Revolution deviated towards fear and violence. There is truth in William Godwin’s reflection which has pointed the masses to, “anxiously refrain from violence: force is not a conviction… let us reflect on the gradual consequences of this revolution in my opinion” (789-93). The French Revolution started off with violence from the start the masses revenge and pent-up frustrations led to the Reign of Terror. Violence gives in to more violence. The revolution was no longer about human rights instead it became a fight with their own people. Thus, in retrospect to the novel the Creature who was met with opposition and frustration decided toward revenge and violence. In doing so, Justine/justice dies in the process of his revenge. The fight was no longer about justice as the fire of revenge consumed the working class.

  • Karla Garcia Barrera