Frankenstein Questions and Answers
by Mary Shelley

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Explain why Justine confesses to the crime, even though she is innocent in Frankenstein.

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Justine, in Mary Shelley's novel Frankenstein, initially sates that she is innocent of the murder of William.

“God knows,” she said, “how entirely I am innocent."

Later, in the same chapter (eight), Victor states that Justine had changed her stand of innocence.

Justine had already confessed her guilt.

Horrified by this change, both Elizabeth and Victor go to visit Justine prior to her hanging. Elizabeth, shaken that Justine had confessed to the murder of William, feels as though she must hear Justine's explanation.

After asked by Elizabeth why she admitted to her guilt, Justine stated the following:

“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. The God of heaven forgive me"

Based upon her explanation, Justine confesses to the murder of William so that she could be forgiven, by God, for all of the sins she had committed in her life.

Justine's history is a bleak one. Hated by her mother, Justine had gone to live with the Frankensteins. After the deaths of all of her siblings, Justine returned to her mother's side. Upon her return, her mother began to blame Justine for the deaths of her children (Justine's siblings). One could readily assume that Justine felt great guilt (given her mother blamed her for such awful things). After her mother died, Justine could have blamed herself for that death as well.

In order to find forgiveness for her past, Justine felt it necessary to admit her guilt for William's murder. She believed that her confession would make righteous in God's eyes. Unfortunately, the lie made her feel even worse.

Essentially, Justine's confession was to bring her solitude regarding her past.

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zumba96 | Student

Justine believes that this is God's will so even though she did not commit the crime she confesses to it. She does not believe she has any authority over this subject and also loses her agency due to the fact that she does nothing in order to save herself and submits to what has been declared. Justine confesses that she lies and Elizabeth speaks up for her in her stead since she had full faith in Justine. 

mkcapen1 | Student

In the book Frankenstein by Mary Shelley, Justine has been with the family for years and believes that because of the devotion and love that she has shown them, they will know that she could not be capable of killing a child, especially one of theirs.  When she finds that they have no faith in her nor do others, she gives up.  She is horrified by the contempt for her that has become her existence.

Justine seeks relief through her death which she knows will happen one way or another.  She confesses only in an attempt to escape the torture of her present existence and fears.  She believes that once she dies, she will be set free because God will know that she is innocent.

kmieciakp | Student

See chapter 8:

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. The God of heaven forgive me! 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. He threatened excommunication and hell fire in my last moments, if I continued obdurate. Dear lady, I had none to support me; all looked on me as a wretch doomed to ignominy and perdition. What could I do? In an evil hour I subscribed to a lie; and now only am I truly miserable."

She paused, weeping, and then continued--"I thought with horror, my sweet lady, that you should believe your Justine, whom your blessed aunt had so highly honoured, and whom you loved, was a creature capable of a crime which none but the devil himself could have perpetrated. Dear William! dearest blessed child! I soon shall see you again in heaven, where we shall all be happy; and that consoles me, going as I am to suffer ignominy and death."