By Alex Luna

Anne Mellors essay regarding the use of science in Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein reveals important insight into the way nature is viewed as feminine. Mellor asserts that nature should never be manipulated or controlled in science, and rather respected and constantly accounted for when conducting certain experiments. Mellors arguments carry weight, and in relation to the novel, we can see these rules violated by Victor due to his hubris. Victors hubris ultimately reflects his oppression towards the opposite sex by his desire to control nature and create life.

When Victor is first introduced to science, he is instantly smitten. Victor describes it by saying “but here were books, and here were men who had penetrated deeper and knew more” (46). The word “penetrated” is interesting here, and automatically establishes a sense of masculinity. By saying that they penetrated “deeper and knew more” Victor is referring to nature itself. These scientists became well known by uncovering the secrets of nature and learning more about it. Typically, a common nickname for nature is “mother nature” and here it is implied that Victor wants to “penetrate” deeper into mother nature. Already there is a strong sense of ambition for Victor to accomplish this. The fact that we apply femininity to nature, and that Victor wants so desperately to uncover its secrets shows a strong sense of oppression.

Furthermore, we can see evidence of Victor’s hubris when he says “I entered the greatest diligence into the search of the philosophers stone and the elixir of life” (47). Victor is after what is often considered a most sought-after goal, but a completely unrealistic one of the philosophers stone, or his attempt to create the perfect being. The fact that Victor becomes obsessed with creating life and soon dedicates his knowledge to attain it reflects his self-pride and confidence. The reason why a concept like the elixir of life is so sought after is that only fools seek it, those who do not respect the laws of nature, like Mellor, points out in her essay. 

Finally, Mellor’s arguments continue to get validated when Victor encounters a lightning strike. He describes watching the thunderstorm “with curiosity and delight” (47). Here is the scientific side has completely taken over his thinking, that he cannot truly comprehend the harmful aspects of nature, like lightning. It’s as if mother nature itself is giving a warning, to not penetrate too deeply into it or else he could see the very worst of nature. And in the end, that is ultimately what becomes of Victor due to his obsession with wanting to manipulate and control “mother nature” for his own selfish ambitions.

mother nature