Had Victor Frankenstein not become perturbed by M. Kempe and M. Waldman’s critiques of alchemist enthusiasm, he might not have initiated the enterprise of creating the monster who brings his very demise and effectively engaged in the misogynist-science of an era. This is where Anne K. Mellor in “A Feminist Critique of Science” bluntly reads the Mary Shelley’s novel and Victor’s erroneous engagement with modernity anachronistically to rebel against a two-hundred year old system of scientific method, naturalism, physiology, and electrochemical innovation. She misses the chance to familiarize her reader with scientists such as Marie Curie, Ada Lovelace, or Ellen Swallow Richards whom before the conception of a categorical term known as ‘feminism’ had engaged and existed in the natural sciences. The humanities and fiction itself is useful when befallen to less self-righteous voices.

Victor isn’t just mocked by his teachers for his ambitions, but also by the “criminal judge,” (170) who dismisses his instance of public mourning in Chapter XXIII- after both Elizabeth and Alphonse pass away- as nonsensical insanity. “The magistrate listened to me with attention and kindness,” (170) demonstrates a superficial exteriority which for Victor’s own sense of agency is disingenuous and discomforting. Shelley relishes in this simple sentence a doubt-inducing ambiguity, blurring subject-predicate (is the judge himself a criminal or does he only process indictments on the law-breaking class?) which compares to Victor’s observations of professors at the university. “He heard with attention the little narration concerning my studies, and smiled at the names of Cornelius Agrippa and Paracelsus, but without the contempt that M. Krempe had exhibited,” (53). The disposition in which university professors react to Victor traces for the reader a dignity in a paralleled criticism, but for Mellor, she replaces such a parodying in her own Faustian bargain. Mellor’s self-affirming substitution of Shelley’s hybrid-travel journalism-children’s literature design with repetitious allusions in the so-called feminist arc of allusion to Anglophonic figures including Goethe, Francis Bacon, Benjamin Franklin, Humphry Davy, Erasmus Darwin (how many men named Darwin existed in 19th-century naturalism?), Dr. Adam Walker, Giovanni Aldini and his university colleagues- in her plethora of good and bad scientists. Perhaps a practical, feminist reading which acknowledges the postmodern trend towards character interiority requires a more diligent reader than Mellor. Rather than returning to the monster’s assertions which suggest they “…might take the form of bloody revolutions in which the oppressed overthrow their masters,” (Mellor 14), Mellor’s willing of a sexual politics in her infatuation with Harvard physicists and their “emotionally repressed,” (Mellor 11) sexual energy has the potential force to become an actual interpellation of masculine desire that deconstructs what Victor deems a suitable venture for extending to an othered, sentient being the discoveries of liberty and revenge.

-Bradley Dexter Christian