Consider the roles and the importance of Safie in the novel - 'Frankenstein', Mary Shelley

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Ruth Naughton-Doe 12G

Consider the roles and the importance of Safie in the novel.

        Throughout the novel ‘Frankenstein’, Mary Shelley introduces many characters that although are not either essential or principal to the main storyline, have important roles in highlighting certain issues and also in helping to set up the story to become more believable. In the novel, Safie is the daughter of an Arab and comes to live with the De Laceys, whom the creature calls his ‘protectors’. Aspects of Safie’s life also highlight issues that Shelley feels strongly about. This essay shall consider the importance and the role of Mary Shelley’s seemingly insignificant character Safie.

        When Safie first arrives at the De Lacey’s, the creature witnesses an important change in Felix.

        ‘Felix seemed ravished with delight when he saw her, every trait of sorrow vanished from his face, and it instantly expressed a degree of ecstatic joy, of which I could hardly have believes it capable…” Ch.13 P.90

The emotions that the creature was witnessing were the emotions of love, and Safie and Felix are the first couple that the creature observes together. Perhaps it is from absorbing the intense emotions that Felix feels when Safie arrives, that the creature learns how to love, and that man and woman are meant to be together. Up until Safie arrives, the creature has only witnessed old De Lacey with his children; no mother figure or elderly female had been mentioned. Therefore, it is seen that Shelley uses Safie to introduce the older female with ‘a countenance of angelic beauty and expression’ to the creature, and also allows him to witness romantic love and the power and importance it holds. The strength of love is again demonstrated in the De Laceys story when Felix risks his life to increase his chance with Safie.

        When Safie arrives at the De Lacey’s house, she is unable to speak their language, and thus has to be educated by the householders. Thus we can see that Shelley introduces Safie as a non-native person as an important way in the book of teaching the creature how to speak language. It is a convenient way for the creature to learn by overhearing Safie’s lessons.

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        ‘She and I improved rapidly in the knowledge of language…’ Ch.13 P.92

The lessons that Safie were taught also taught Frankenstein how to read.

        ‘While I improved in speech, I also learned the science of letters, as it was taught to the stranger…’ Ch.13 P.92

Therefore, the role of Safie in the novel is also to set up the creature as literate. This ability to read is important later in the novel, when he reads Frankenstein’s journal and finds out of his peculiar birth into the world, and also when he reads the books that help with his education. It ...

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