Who had it worse?

Shelly’s use of Justine is more of an authorial tool rather than a self-standing character. Justine’s trial and conflict is Shelly’s way of demonstrating the injustice that was so prominent in disputes that prevailed during the French Revolution. The justice system itself is considered unjust purely due to the fact that Justine is considered a tyrant as the true executioner is “reeking with the blood of innocence” (108). Shelly is able to parallel this situation of the injustice she is familiar with in reality with Justine’s unfair trial. Justine is not even offered a chance, nor an opportunity to be considered innocent until proven guilty.

I find it interesting that there are several mentions of heaven and the afterlife throughout Justine’s trial, as if it is the only thing for Justine to have hope in at this point. Elizabeth mentions that Justine should have “confidence elevated beyond this world,” hinting at the fact that her only hope is being ultimately released from the torture of the trial by death. The irony is found in the fact that Justine initially confessed and was convicted of the crime because of her belief in the afterlife. Because Justine ultimately escaped the miserable den (aka her life on earth), the question is: Did she ultimately find justice because she was released from the hateful and unjust world (108)? Although dying as a “murderer”, Justine was resting, while the true convict was alive and internally tortured. Victor’s cowardly actions of not manning up and confessing the truth led him to a life filled with a heavy weight on his conscience. Victor was now “seized by remorse” and ultimately led him to feeling as if he was in a “hell of intense tortures” (111). This in itself leads me to believe that maybe justice was served after all. Although the unjust trial led to Justine’s death, it ultimately released her of worldly pain; as for Victor, his justice is served by forcing him into a suffering that he would be forced to endure for the rest of his living days.

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