Tag Archive: dominance


Power of Nature and Science

In Anne Mellor’s essay, “A Feminist Critique of Science”, Mellor discusses the the science of Frankenstein versus the concept of nature. In “Frankenstein” Mary Shelley critiques the concept of science by stating the potential dangers of arrogance in the 17th century scientific revolution, all through a feminist view. Victor’s creation of the monster was a way to fulfill that void of his mother. “Implicitly, she contrasted what she considered to be ‘good science’ – the detailed and reverent description of the workings of nature – to what she considered ‘bad’ science, the hubristic manipulation of the elemental forces of nature to serve man’s private ends.” (  Mellor 1 ). Victor’s creation of the monster represented what Mellor described as “bad” science. The monsters purpose was to serve him as a way to meet his needs, which completely backfires. “The scientist who analyses, manipulates, and attempts to control nature unconsciously engages in a form of oppressive sexual politics.” (Mellor 12).  This reveals the idea of how Victor relies on his control of nature to grant his desire of power.Frankenstein created the monster, in which he defies the laws of nature by producing something, completely missing the presence of a female figure. Nevertheless, the monster was created due to the unconscious and repressed thoughts of Victor. Victor’s creation of the monster is almost trying to prove his superiority by showing that the role of a women is not required in such a process.Victor’s passion for chemical physiology and the concept of male dominance is what led him to do the impossible.

~Dariana Lara

Tania De Lira-Miranda

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Throughout history, being a (white) man was seen as the best. After all, they were the people who had the power, the money and everything else in between so it was no wonder that people would try and act like a man. Since, according to this idea, this is why some girls become tomboys; they just want to be ‘one of the guys’ or ‘be a man.’ But in Anne Mellor’s article “A Feminist Critique of Science,” she explains that in science (fiction), the scientist, which are usually male, develop start developing a female spirit or as Mellor puts it, “[an] aggressive, virile male scientist legitimately captures and enslaves a fertile but passive female nature.” (Mellors 1) She explains this topic even further when she explains that in Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, Shelley inserts gendered metaphors in her novel.

When Victor is introduced to science, he states that natural philosophy has “regulated my fate” and that he “desire to… state those facts” (Shelley 45) and he, along with other scientists like Isaac Newton, believe that nature is a female as they have unveiled her but “her immortal lineaments were still a wonder and a mystery” (Shelley 46) and how there are books on the subject that men “had penetrated deeper and knew more [of].” (Shelley 46) Though the concept of nature has no gender the characters in the novel, and people in the real world, tend to refer to nature as being a woman, even going so far as calling it Mother Nature/Mother Earth/Earth-Mother. If we follow this idea that nature is a woman, then by writing about how men “penetrate” the subject nature, it plays into the idea that scientist have a masculine and heteronormative spirit to them since in order to penetrate something, especially in the sexual manner the sentence seems to imply, one usually needs to have male genitals. And another thing to note is that the idea of wanting to uncover everything nature hold has pushes nature into a submissive role while the scientist has the dominant role in the relationship fits in with the notion that men are superior to women as in this case, the scientist would be the man and nature is the woman.

Mellors’ idea that Frankenstein has Victor, the scientist, get a “fertile but female nature” appears when he comes up with the idea and then creates the monster. When thinking about creating the monster, Victor talks about how the new species would “bless [him] as its creator and source; many happy and excellent natures would owe their being to [him].” (Shelley 57) Victor’s female nature as he displays womb envy/vagina envy, the anxiety that many men may feel caused by envy of the biological functions of the female sex (pregnancy, parturition, breastfeeding). By creating a new species, he would become their mother, since mothers are the ones who create life (babies), and he would be their source, which can be paralleled with breastfeeding, which is a way of providing young infants with the nutrients they need for healthy growth and development, and that the species nature would all be thanks to him, which parallels to him giving them birth.

These gendered imageries and metaphors show that Mellors’ idea that “the scientist who analyses, manipulates, and attempts to control nature unconsciously engages in a form of oppressive sexual politics” (Mellors 12) is proven to be correct as by giving the ideas of scientist and nature a gender, an oppressive sexual relationship formed as the scientist, which are usually men and is Victor in the novel, dominate nature/science, which are given female traits and characteristics.

Following the completion of my reading of Montag’s essay, I realized there are various interesting ideas to be illustrated or expressed differently. The main example of this would be the thought of the monster being compared to the working class and Victor to the middle-class capitalists. A reason why it might be suggested that the monster could possibly be compared to the working class is that he is outcasted and forgotten. It can also be suggested that the monster is lost in the midst of a capitalist society, which again would allow the idea of the monster representing the working class to flourish.

While I am in agreement with the comparison that Montag has made, I feel as if there is more to understand about Victor when comparing him to middle-class capitalism. For example, in the novel, he gives off a sense of being majorly ambitious about his ideas and what he desires to accomplish. Essentially he suggests that his creation could potentially be a scientific breakthrough or a scientific development that would enhance the common life exponentially. However, this is not the case his creation ends up being the complete opposite of what he had envisioned. It can be inferred that the creature being rejected by Victor after the occurrences, is a way of describing the alienation of labor because there is a sense of a divide or severance between him and the creature. Despite this, it can also be suggested that Victor at some points resembles the working class because he eventually does face the same challenges and disparities that the creature, who symbolized the working class, was facing.

In addition to this, utilizing Montag’s perspective we can assume that Victor’s creation embodies the characteristics of what a capitalist system or society would cause, which is the process of social classes inevitably becoming divided. Similar to how the creature had harmful outburst after being outcasted and ignored by society if the growing problem of the working class being mistreated and shut down continues, similar if not worse outburst could come from the working class. In other words, a revolution could commence similar to the way the creature in this novel revolted against the oppression of social norms created by those around the creature or as Montag would prefer, the capitalistic middle class.

– Daniel Olmos