Tag Archive: feminism


Science gone too far?

In Anne Mellor’s essay, “A Feminist Critique of Science”, Anne Mellor draws some comparisons between scientists who attempt to manipulate nature and Victor Frankenstein who pretty much does the same in Mary Shelley’s novel, Frankenstein. Anne Mellor mentions that nature should never be manipulated in science, and should always be respected and constantly accounted for when conducting experiments. However, these rules are broken when Victor’s obsession of giving birth becomes reality. He unconsciously oppresses sexual politics by “giving birth” without a woman in the natural process of sexual reproduction, and instead does it through science, which “reverses the evolutionary ladder described by Darwin” (Mellor, 6).  Victor’s belief in its power to control nature and give birth break the limits of nature in science. Through the quote “penetrate the secrets of nature” (46), we can view this as an indicator of his view of nature in comparison to his view for humans, specifically men. Evidently, he does not care to use others, even dead people, for his advantage. Never did he seem sorry or regretful for borrowing from the dead, which again shows his indifference towards the less powerful aspects of nature. Ann Mellor states that the acts Victor commits are, “The embodiment of hubris…. [and his] blasphemous attempts to fear asunder the sacred mysteries of nature,” are asked against femininity and the sexuality itself thus questioning Victors’ whole sexual spectrum.” His obsession of giving birth can even be interpreted as Victor’s secret sexual preferences. Some readers can also see this as Victor unconsciously wanting to be a female, rather than male.  His actions give the reader many assumptions, but one for sure was a sense of desperation of some sort. In essence, Victor manipulates nature in a way he shouldn’t have, only to prove his engagement in oppressive sexual politic beliefs.

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In Anne Mellor’s essay, “A Feminist Critique of Science”,  Mellor discusses the conception of Frankenstein vs. nature. In Mary Shelly’s “Frankenstein” she talks about the 17 century everything threw a feminist point of view. Victors creation which was what Mellor described as “bad” science, was a replacement for his mother since he couldn’t find love in any way. The creature was created to serve victor and to reach his special needs. “The scientist who analyses, manipulates, and attempts to control nature unconsciously engages in a form of oppressive sexual politics.” (Mellor 12). This shows how victor’s creation was to represent his mother but then it backfires upon himself since it didn’t turn out the way he wanted it. The creature categorized himself as “Adam” which is not what Victor wanted he wanted a woman to be with him his mother to be precise.  He believes that women don’t get to make their own decisions and that he would be the one to overpower and dominate the mind of a woman so he made the creature that had no conscience at the time so he would shape it to his own needs. Victors thoughts about his mother and his experience in chemical physiology are what led his male dominance to create the impossible.

-Marco Hidalgo

in Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein the creature can be viewed as a physical representation of the working class when analyzed through a feminist view. It can be viewed as this since Anne Mellor’s essay attacks the society and how it is structured to be a man’s world. So viewing the creature as the working class and it being a man goes to show how everyone in this time period believed that women couldn’t work in the labor force. They did this since they believed women couldn’t possibly have the same mental and/or physical capabilities of a man.

Anne Mellor discusses in her essay, A Feminist Critique of Science, how the different motives of male scientists directly correlates to their oppressive sexual politics. Scientists who strive towards controlling and manipulating nature see women as submissive and inferior to men. Because nature is seen as a woman/mother, men in the sciences are attempting to assert their power and intelligence on “mother nature” to create and explore completely new ideas and distort the original functioning of nature and its offerings.

In Mellor’s essay, she explains that, “rather than letting organic life-forms evolve slowly over thousands of years according to natural processes of sexual selection, Victor Frankenstein wants to originate a new life-form quickly, by chemical means”, (Mellor 7). The author states that in Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, Victor Frankenstein chooses to produce a brand new species of life without contemplating the effects that this may have on nature and society. Frankenstein chooses to disrupt the natural life-cycle of human beings by taking human flesh and bones from graveyards. This act completely contradicts the theories of evolution from scientist Erasmus Darwin, who suggests that organic matter and human remains should be used to nourish soil and act as fertilizer for plants. Instead, Frankenstein chooses to build and bring to life a new creature, and enjoys the idea of becoming the “master” of these new life forms (Shelley 41). Mellor’s argument regarding scientist’s intentions to oppress women in relation to their experiments and studies is evident through Frankenstein’s creation of his “monster”, which is seen as a solution to fill the void of his deceased mother. This creation is a symbol of his longing for the ability to give birth and have a sexual relationship with his mother.

Written by Cathryn Flores

 

Victor’s preoccupation with science is immediately obvious at the beginning of the story. We all know that he is intent on accomplishing the impossible because he feels like he is the one person who can achieve it. Victor’s ego aside however, the idea that science can and will conquer the natural, is one shared by many Enlightenment thinkers of the time. Enlightenment era thinkers saw science as a study that should not be grounded in emotion but instead logic and an almost clinical detachment. This generally has been and is regarded as “good” science , not “bad” science,  even by today’s standards. Anne K. Mellor however exposes this separation as perhaps not so “good” after all because Victor is the prime example of where seemingly “good” science has instead revealed itself to be the opposite. Mellor explains that Mary Shelley “substituted for Davy’s complacent image of the happy scientist living in harmony with both his community and himself the frightening image of the alienated scientist working in feverish isolation, cut off both physically and emotionally from his family, friends, and society” and in doing so Victor serves as an example of where this practice of detachment in science is in fact negatively affecting not only the scientist himself but also all those around them. This science effectively becomes negative as “detached from a respect for nature and from a strong sense of moral responsibility for the products of one’s research, purely objective thought and scientific experimentation can and do produce monsters” so Victor’s actions could have only ended in a creation that was by all rights monstrous. Not only does this suggest that Victor personally was doomed from the start to create something that could only be destructive and inherently “bad” but it also implies that the purposeful decision to separate oneself from science is the wrong approach. If scientists separate themselves from everything in their pursuit of knowledge then everything they are likely to produce as a result of this pursuit will be tainted by the very objectivity they felt was necessary to discover it in the first place.

The isolation creates monsters essentially and in Victor’s case that is entirely true. Furthermore, not only does the isolation contribute to the monstrous qualities of the creation but Victor’s desire to circumvent Nature’s course also participates in the making of the monstrous. Victor “has further increased the monstrousness of his creation by making a form that is both larger and more simple than a normal human being” and this serves as one of the many examples in Victor is going against the natural order of things. This is another way in which monsters can only be created and is a type of science that “manipulate[s] and control[s] rather than describ[ing], understand[ing], and rever[ing] nature.” So Victor in trying to circumvent nature has proven that science is used in a manipulative manner that it shouldn’t be. Science should not be a tool used to get around Nature and her order of things but that is how it is used. Every time that it is used in this way the results is monstrous.

The female is not what creates monster but the male.

By Diana Lara.

Misogyny Towards Nature

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We know that in defying the balance of nature, Victor Frankenstein’s selfish state of mind lead to his downfall and destruction. But is there something more to his scientific studies that help explain why his curiosity manifested into dangerous acts of self-fulfillment?

Anne Mellor speaks about an interesting take on science in her essay, A Feminist Critique of Science, of which deeper explains the role it plays within Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. In giving life to an inanimate object, Victor Frankenstein intended to create new life; physically bare a species of which “would bless [him] as its creator and source” (pp.57). It is evident that Victor’s purpose in taking on this experiment is a result of his egotistical desires to “become greater than his nature” (pp.56). However, when integrating Mellor’s findings, one can come to see that in carrying out this insane attempt at reanimation, Victor also takes part in the oppression of what we otherwise call a “her”; nature. As Victor exploits nature for his own benefit, it becomes clear that he is unconsciously  objectifying and using it for the sole purpose of his narcissistic want for power. See, Mellor states that, “Mary Shelley understood nature in his [Wordsworth] terms, as a sacred all-creating mother, a living organism or ecological community with which human beings interact in mutual dependence”, this meaning that in treating nature as inferior, Victor challenged his own way of life of which ultimately resulted in his total ruin.

Now, with this in mind, do Mellor’s ideologies cross the line in suggesting science is an overall cause of self-destruction when combined with selfish desires? When tying them to Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, her ideas prove to be accurate because of Victors want to create life for his own profit. His defiance of nature is what lead him to create unnatural life; something he could not handle. Consequently, his actions are what caused the undoing of his life.

– Juanita Espinoza

By Jade Graham

Anne Mellor argues in her piece “A Feminist Critique of Science” how Frankenstein involves the effect of Victor’s bad science. Mellor makes the point of Victor being driven by egotism and glory – motivations that men succumb to – are the reasons why chaos ensues in the novel. Not only to change his life, but change life and science as the world perceives it. Victor according to Mellor possesses, “the hubristic manipulation of the elemental forces of nature to serve man’s private ends.” which is the foundation of science being ruined (Mellor, 2). Hubris is being overly confident and or cocky, Victor being sure of himself wants to prove himself as a man. That pressure he puts on his well being is what leads to his eventual demise. But first, he creates the monster in his lab. Mellor, a woman writes her skeptical viewpoint taking consideration of the fact of Victor’s personality. He mentions family throughout the novel. A family can only occur when a woman gives birth. Mellor explains how once Victor made the creature, the human factor of natural science (birth) was stripped away. A new technology changed how life began. Because of this power is taken away from women, giving birth is a part of natural life. Proper sexual reproduction and growth allow for normal upbringing.

Nature is sometimes to referred to as Mother Nature. This feminine address only adds to Mellor’s point of how nature is a simple natural process. Pure, always growing, bright, and positive. Once Victor began his goal of creating the monster there is the mention of lightning with the oak tree nearby becoming destroyed.

 

Image result for oak tree struck by lightning stump

 

Trees grow and usually last for years and years. However, Victor’s experiment changed the tree. He changed nature and technology through his motivation for supposed better things (a more fulfilled life with glory and knowledge) and bad reasoning. Victor performed this experiment for himself. It is about the one man alone rather than a group or population. Mellor makes the point of Darwin relating to Frankenstein. Victor would receive a Darwin Award, his actions qualify him and therefore prove how he wrongly affected the world both scientifically and technologically.

 

frankenbaby

In “A Feminist Critique of Science” by Anne Mellor, it critiques the novel Frankenstein by Mary Shelley. Mellor concludes that “the scientist who analyses, manipulates, and attempts to control nature unconsciously engages in a form of oppressive sexual politics” (12). Victor successfully accomplished to create life with his own hands, but that was a big responsibility for him. He could not handle what was to come after his creation was brought to life. This was too much (Godlike) power for a person to have because it disrupts the nature of life. Reproduction should come naturally and people should not try to change it. Changes in nature can disrupt the order of life and make it difficult to get back the original order. Victor, being a male, makes himself the “mother” of his creation. This takes motherhood away from women by depriving them of the one thing they can do that men are not capable of. That is why it is hard for Victor to take care of the monster and runs away when seeing him for the first time because he does not have that natural loving mother characteristic (Mellor, 7). Being a mother means you are gifted with a new life and are responsible to take care of it, Victor’s selfish ambition leads him to think “a new species would bless me as its creator and source; many happy and excellent natures would owe their being to me” (57). He could never understand that creating life is so much more than that and it takes time and love to raise a new life.

Mellor strongly argues that the creation was a mistake from the moment the idea was thought of and describes how dangers it is to condemn this type of science. Victor eagerly wanting his creation to be brought to life without thinking about the effects it has on nature is dangerous. He isolated himself from his father and loved ones because he was deep into his work and forgets to look around and see all the natural beauty around him. He lost touch with real science when creating the creature because he wanted to be the first person to ever create life without giving birth.

-Marycarmen Nieto

Women as nature

In Mellor’s Essay, “A Feminist Critique on Science,” explains the ways in which nature, gender, and science have influenced each other through Male ideology. The idea that nature is perceived as, “a fertile but passive female nature,” depicts nature as a “she” which can automatically place nature as subordinate to the superior male. Moreover, it is used as an excuse to undermine the natural balances and boundaries of nature itself. The lense in which mankind express themselves in science in order to enrich and facilitate benefits to society can ultimately be its undoing.

Victor Frankenstein is an example of a man who sought to break the boundaries of science through “re-animation” and create a species that will acknowledge him as a creator. He expresses, “what glory would attend the discovery if I could banish disease from the human frame, and render man invulnerable to any but a violent death!” (pp. 47). Victor misused science and violated the natural laws like surpassing death, by creating the ‘creature.’ Moreover, his ideology aided into his ego the fruits of his labor would reward him. So who was going to benefit after all? After all his efforts and dedication in creating his “own species” was in vain. Not only was he blinded by his ego he refused to take responsibility that comes with knowledge. By doing so, he amassed so much hatred after his own ‘creature’ that he dammed his own creation. He regretted the moment he embarked in his adventure, “the beauty of the dream vanished, and breathless horror and disgust filled my heart,” (pp. 60.)

Thus, Mellor critiques the execution of science through man’s eyes. Just as Victor was irresponsible from his own scientific experiment, the same can be applied during the Industrial Revolution and in today’s technologically driven society. The idea of creating more jobs and “increasing the economy,” was an idea that sparked interest and societal growth. However, the idea of the superiority of class and gender suddenly became more important than improving the economy. When labor alienation, child labor, poor wages surfaced responsibility was not taken and as a result, the French Revolution ensued. The working class was denied basic human rights. Similarly, when the creature was denied a certain right, he rebelled. Thus, we can infer that when scientific advancements are in consequence of selfish deeds or superiority over all beings, can cause destruction that may even be irreversible to the environment.

  • Karla Garcia Barrera

 

Image result for science in frankenstein

Christopher Martinez
Throughout Frankenstein by Mary Shelley, there is a sense of Victor’s affection for life made by women. Based on Anne Mellor’s conclusion that, “the scientist who analyses, manipulates, and attempts to control nature unconsciously engages in a form of the oppressive sexual politics,” I can interpret that Victor Frankenstein is in need for the desire of a woman’s womb. This can be clearly be shown when Victor Frankenstein is practicing science with his professor. He wants the power to control nature – It is his fate. We see examples of this when he says “Natural philosophy is the genius that has regulated my fate; I desire, therefore, in this narration, to those fact which led to my predilection for that science.” (45) This view that Victor has is a curse that keeps on haunting him. He won’t let go until he is completely satisfied. Unfortunately, that never happens to Victor.

 

Also, we see Victors encounter with science when M. Waldman gives Victor a set of things to do to possess powerful knowledge. After having some sleep Victor states he, “only remained a resolution to return to the ancient studies, and to devote myself to a science for which I believed myself to possess a natural talent.” (53) This shows the intentions Victor has. There is a connection between Anne Mellor’s statement and this section in the book since Anne Mellor says, “Moreover, in trying to create a human being as God created Adam, out of earth and water, all at once, Victor Frankenstein robs nature of something more than fertilizer.” (7) Victor Frankenstein seems to learn about the sciences in the wrong way. Anne Mellor mentions that he wants that power. Additionally, this can relate back to the discussion about psychoanalysis. Since we now know Victor wants his dead mother’s affection, there is a conclusion that Victor is committed to getting that power to life to pursue happiness. Victor Frankenstein is a bit greedy with his actions. He is manipulating his sexual desire.