Tag Archive: monarchy

Inconsistent Equality

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.


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.

In all honesty, I was throughly confused in trying to apply Mary Wollstencraft to Justine’s death. I’m confused as I write this and I will probably be confused when we discuss these blog posts in class. My confusion stems from Justine’s representation. Yes, Justine stands for Justice but what kind of Justice? Is it the Justice System or the moral concept? Taking Mary Wollstencraft’s ides on the French revolution and monarchy we see that she would approve of the hanging of the system of justice but not the hanging of concept of justice.

The System: If we use the justice system to represent a larger sector of 19th century power, Justine no longer stands only for the prisons and judicial parts of government, but the monarchy as a whole. An ardent believer in republican government calls the French Revolution a “glorious chance” to “more virtue and happiness than has hitherto blessed our globe.” Here Wollstencraft is rejoicing in the upheaval of the French monarchy  and lend the same enthusiasm to the hanging of Justine as a representation of and unjust justice system. But what if Justine represents Justice as a moral concept? If this is the case then Wollstencraft would not approve of the hanging of Justine because in her eyes real justice is always possible.

But wait….there’s more

What if Justine represents both? If this is true she is a (no longer walking) contradiction and I just got a lot more confused.