Tag Archive: mother


Feminism 17th Century

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

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By: Maya Carranza

In “A Feminist Critique Of Science”, the author, Anne Mellor, illustrates the idea of nature as female and as “fertile”. Woman are linked with creating life since most woman are “fertile” and are able to conceive and give birth. The only thing stopping Victor from being a mother is the lack of a womb. Therefore, Victor challenges nature and tries to create life on his own by creating his monster. Frankenstein’s strong desire to create life is as if he is attempting to physically become pregnant.

Frankenstein’s desire to create life can be compared to a woman becoming pregnant and giving brith. This also give the impression that Victor is questioning his gender and perhaps wants to be a woman.  Mellor states ,”The scientist who analyzes, manipulates and attempts to control nature unconsciously engages in a form of oppressive sexual politics.” (12)  By “giving brith” through the use of science, Victor abuses the use of nature which Mellor disagrees with. She argues that nature is feminine and with Frankenstein’s manipulations in nature and science, he engages in sexual politics resulting in him ignoring the power that woman posses by being able to give birth.

Anne Mellor’s View Point

In Anne Mellor’s “A Feminist Critique of Science” she discloses how nature shouldn’t be manipulated because eventually things turn into chaos as did the creation of Victor. Victor Frankenstein first encountered science when he saw an oak tree get struck by lightning and was fascinated by the idea of the obvious laws of electricity. Shelley mention how Victor “On this occasion a man of great research in natural philosophy was with us, and, excited by this catastrophe, he entered on the explanation of a theory which he had formed on the subject of electricity and galvanism, which was at once new and astonishing to me” (47) Victor’s first encounter with science was awestruck  and he would later on define the laws of nature by creating this creature who murdered and caused chaos in his own town. Without taking responsibilities for his actions an innocent woman was executed and Mellor believed that Victor failed in giving his creature nurturance as a mother thus suffering the consequences that his creature took upon.

Along the same lines, Victor attempts to give birth through the creation of his creature and therefore oppresses sexual politics because he degrades a woman’s power to bring life into this world. By creating his creature through the use of science Victor, exploited the use of science which Mellor opposes and believes nature should be respected. Mellor argues how nature is viewed as very feminine and how Victor Frankenstein disregarded the capabilities of woman and how with his manipulations in nature he engages in sexual politics. Moreover, we could see more of Victor’s hubris when he articulates how he “entered the greatest diligence into the search of the philosopher’s stone and the elixir of life” (47). In other words, Victor becomes obsessed with creating the perfect being that he disregards the harmful aspects of nature hence disrespecting the laws of nature for his own selfish needs.

 

-Guadalupe Andrade

by Steven Gonzalez

In Anne Mellor’s essay, “A Feminist Critique of Science”, she ineffectively asserts that the manipulation of “nature” by scientists invalidates the findings and of said scientists and carries some sort of underlying oppressive patriarchal nature through the gendering of ideas, phenomena, and other scientific occurrences. Anne Mellor draws comparisons between scientists who attempt to manipulate nature and Victor Frankenstein who does much of the same in Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. More specifically, she frequently cites Frankenstein’s creation of the creature and his constant reference to nature as being feminine as his patriarchal oppression of the opposite sex. Ultimately, Frankenstein’s manipulation of nature in the novel has a vague and ambiguous connection to his oppressive nature to women at best.

Frankenstein’s frequent reference to nature as feminine is not an indicator of his oppressiveness in the least. As Victor began to immerse himself in the sciences, he describes what a philosopher had exposed to him, ” He had partially unveiled the face of nature, but her immortal lineaments were still a wonder and a mystery.”(Shelley 46). In this quote, Frankenstein genders Nature but not as a means to demean her but as a mechanism used to understand her. We as humans have a proclivity to characterize that which is abstract as having gender so that we can better understand how they are or operate. Victor even regards nature as “a wonder and mystery “in the quote further supporting the idea that the reference to nature as a female is a mechanism used to understand her and not used a means to demean women by comparing them to a chaotic nature. Additionally, Victor’s attempt to manipulate nature is not so much a way for Frankenstein to express his narcissistic nature or to display Victor’s God complex. Instead, Victor’s manipulation of nature is a result of his curiosity; he manipulates nature in an attempt to stretch his understanding of nature’s bounds and limits. Victor is a classic scientist: ruled by the curiosity and pursuit of knowledge in the unknown. Victor recounts when he was younger stating, ” And thus for a time, I was occupied by exploded systems, mingling, like an unadept, a thousand contradictory theories, and floundering desperately in a very slough of multifarious knowledge, guided by an ardent imagination and childish reasoning.”(Shelley 47). This quote shows that what has guided Victor in his work in the sciences has been his imagination and the curiosity of what could and could not be. Victor’s undying curiosity of the unknown within nature is shown when he recalls a thunderstorm he witnessed when he was young stating, ” and the thunder burst at once with frightful loudness from various quarters of the heavens. I remained, while the storm lasted, watching its progress with curiosity and delight.” (Shelley 47). Once again we see Victor delighted and curious with regards to mysteries which nature holds and never describes nature in such a way to disparage or trivialize her.

Anne Mellor ineffectively and ambiguously makes the argument that Victor through his manipulation and characterization of nature engages in “sexual politics”. On the other hand, I do agree with her portrayal of real-life pseudo-scientists who attempt to stretch the bounds of nature and reality without success( not necessarily with her connection to these pseudo-scientists and their characterization of certain phenomena as feminine. Ultimately, it seems like Anne Mellor is projecting her postmodern feminist misconceptions on Victor Frankenstein, who I believe to be the noble, curious, yet ignorant scientist.

Incest on the Brain

By: Maya Carranza

Freud’s theory of the uncanny can be explained as something that is frightening yet familiar. Freud presents the idea that we as humans of two different genders have a sexual desire for our parents of the opposite sex and hatred toward our same-sex parent. This idea also known as the Oedipal desire can even been seen today as many males marry a women who resembles and acts like his mother and vice versa for daughters and their fathers.

The Oedipal desire is illustrated in Frankenstein’s “wildest dream”. In his dream, Victor is very “delighted and surprised” (60) to see Elizabeth and embraces her but suddenly “her features appeared to change, and I thought that I held the corpse of my dead mother in my arms” (60). His wife, Elizabeth, transforms into his mother, who he truly desires. Although Frankenstein doesn’t desire Elizabeth as much as his mother, he uses her as a way to replace his dead mother.

An Affection

 

 

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Christopher Martinez

On page 60 of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, there is an insight into Victor Frankenstein’s imagination. After creating the creature that unsatisfied him he decides to go to sleep. In his dream, he starts to imagine kissing Elizabeth, but he then starts to imagine his dead mother’s facial features on Elizabeth. It is as if he desires his mothers love. Sigmund Freud, a psychoanalyst, finds an explanation for this; he calls it Oedipus Complex. This states that when a boy child is born they have their mother’s love conquered, however, when as time goes by they seem to keep wanting their mothers to love. The grown-up child then starts to have the feeling of eliminating whatever is splitting the mothers love away – the father.

Although the thought of having affection for a mother isn’t as weird as it seems, the way Freud describes it isn’t something we hear about often. When Victor Frankenstein says, “I embraced her, but as I imprinted the first kiss on her lips, they became livid with the hue of death,” (pg. 60) there is clearly a personal imagination Victor has in his head that is affecting his real life. It is as Victor is somewhat trying to replace the love with his mother with one other close one; in this case being Elizabeth. Additionally, there is a connection between Victor and the monster itself. There is a presence of paradox in this section of the book. Throughout the beginning of the story Victor sees the creation of the monster as an accomplishment, yet it is actually his affection for his dead mother. I can also see how this relates to most students at UC Merced. Especially now that everyone is in college, I see how people miss their mother’s presence and love. The point is this: can this be connected back to the Oedipus Complex?

 

The Uncanny Desire

Freud’s theory of the uncanny indicates that most of our desires are buried in our unconscious due to the fact they cause extreme anxiety. According to Freud, these desires continue to impact us dramatically and in the novel Frankenstein Mary Shelley, describes how Victor Frankenstein, “wildest dreams” during that night revealed his true desires for his mother. Frankenstein goes through the phase of the Oedipus Complex where a young child feels the desire to posses the parent of the opposite sex and eliminate the parent of the same sex. Since, young boys can’t have sex with their mothers because it’s disgusting they find a significant other to fulfill the same characteristics as the mother and this is exactly what Victor Frankenstein does with Elizabeth. However, she doesn’t have the same characteristics as his mother so instead of dreaming of kissing Elizabeth deep down in his unconscious he is thinking of his mother.

Consequently, Victor Frankenstein’s wish is to have sex with his mother, but since she is dead he can’t, so he creates this hideous creature who thus symbolizes his mother. One night, he dreams of Elizabeth, his sister/cousin “in the bloom of health, walking in the streets of Ingolstadt. Delighted and surprised, I embraced her; but as I imprinted the first kiss on her lips, they became livid with the hue of death; her features appeared to change, and I thought that I held the corpse of my dead mother in my arms” (60). This goes back to the Oedipus Complex because in this dream Victor was happy to see Elizabeth his lover, but when he kissed her he is horrified to see its his own mother. Hence his creation which was supposed to represent his mother ended up as a failure because this creature couldn’t give Victor the desire he was seeking for.

 

-Guadalupe Andrade

By Steven Gonzalez

Sigmund Freud’s iceberg model of the human psyche attempts to categorize an individual’s thoughts, actions, and desires as being a product of one of three states in the mind: the ego, the superego, and the id. The id, residing deep within one’s unconscious mind, is a person’s instinctual/biological desires and feelings, the superego, residing both in the deep unconscious as well as the subconscious mind, is a person’s moral barometer, and the ego, lying right beyond the conscious in the subconscious mind, acts as a person’s mediator between one’s desires and one’s moral objectives. Freud uses this model of the psyche as well as what he refers to as the “Oedipal Complex” in order to describe the development of a child’s personality throughout childhood and adolescence. The oedipal complex refers to a group of a person’s feelings which result from their underlying desire to form a romantic relationship with their parent of the opposite sex and a desire to eliminate their parent of the same sex. Freud believed that we all had these primal oedipal desires within us and that most of us merely repressed these desires deep into our unconscious, the id.  In Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, Victor Frankenstein exhibits the Oedipal Complex in a dream-which Freud says is where the disguised id manifests itself- where Elizabeth appears and as he leans in to kiss her, his dead mother appears.

This wild dream that represents Victor’s oedipal complex occurs following Frankenstein’s creation of the monster, Victor is repulsed at the sight of his new creation and states “The different accidents of life are not so changeable as the feelings of human nature.”(Shelley 60). This, while not directly referring to Victor’s Oedipal desires, hint at Freud’s description of the id being the biological and instinctive desires which lie deep underneath of a person’s psyche. Next, Victor describes going to sleep in an attempt to forget that which he has just created only to be “disturbed” by Elizabeth within his dream. Victor describes the following events saying, “Delighted and surprised, I embraced her, but as I imprinted the first kiss on her lips, they became livid with the hue of death; her features appeared to change, and I thought that I held the corpse of my dead mother in my arms.” (Shelley 60). This quote serves as an exemplar for Freud’s solution to the Oedipal complex where the boy- in this case, Victor- still holds affection for his mother but no longer holds a libidinal attraction for her and instead bestows his libidinal affection upon another woman who would act as a substitute to his mother. Victor then describes how he felt great despair and agitation following the animation of his monster, saying, “I remained during the rest of the night walking up and down in the greatest agitation, listening attentively catching and fearing each sound as if it were to announce  the approach of the demoniacal corpse to which I had so miserably given life.”(Shelley 61). This great agitation perhaps symbolizing the internal struggle of the ego within Victor’s psyche attempting to create order between his primal desires-the id-  and his moral objectives-the superego.

This analysis of Victor’s character through the Freud’s psychoanalytic lens and as an exemplar of the Oedipal Complex that resides within all of us, while being unorthodox and outlandish, does allow us to better understand Victor’s internal conflicts more clearly and in a more concrete manner. Moreover, using Freud’s model of the psyche to analyze allows the reader -through seeing Victor’s internal struggles- to empathize with Victor and in turn see the novel from a different perspective rather than see it from the typical point of view: “The creature is more human than Victor, Victor is the real monster of the story.” Ultimately, the novel is much more nuanced than that and reading the novel using different lenses allows us to capture more of that nuance which we so often simplify.

 

Freaky Victor

As I understood, the uncanny was the fear of the familiar when it becomes mysterious and unfamiliar. The uncanny can be related to the repressed thoughts humans have, for instance sexual thoughts towards a family member. These thoughts can become uncanny even though we are aware if them, especially if others were to take notice of them. Hearing them expressed out loud makes the thoughts uncanny and makes you wonder what kind of person you really are. You feel as if you’ve done something wrong and disgusting, which is correct.

In order to understand Victor’s dream we must keep in mind that he seems very okay with the idea of being romantically involved with family, seeing as Elizabeth is part of his family. In the views of Freud, Victor is clearly showing signs of the Oedipal complex and confusion about the female body. This theory states that young children desire the parent of the opposite sex and despise the parent of the same-sex to the extent of wanting them dead. There is also the idea that males fear castrarion and believe thier mother’s have gone through it.

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When we examine Victor’s wild dream, we can see very clearly a part of his life he has repressed, his desire and attraction towards his mom, and the dead. During the dream, Elizabeth becomes the “corpse if his dead mother,” (60) which causes him to awaken in shock. Although Victor’s dream fits the Oedipal theory, it seems that something went wrong in Victor’s case. Instead of wanting his father dead, he also seems to have no problem with a dead mother. With this theory in mind, we can conclude that Victor never understood why his mom had no penis and those thoughts became repressed in his mind. He therefore searches for his mother, even after death in order to get answers. As a result of this confusion, he is unable to accept Elizabeth.  He doesn’t know the answer to his question, “why do females have no penis?” Victor doesn’t undersand the female body, which can also be a reason the creature he creates is male and not female, furthermore it could also be why he never built the creature a female partner too, because he didn’t know how.

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By Galilea Sanchez

flesh-love

In Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, Victor possesses what Freud called the Oedipus Complex. The Oedipus Complex as described by Freud is when a young child has unconscious sexual desires for their parent of the opposite sex. Victor Frankenstein wants to have sex with his mother, but since she is dead he cannot fulfil this wish. Freud asserts, “The discovery that whatever reminds us of this inner repetition-compulsion is perceived as uncanny” (427). For Victor this would be his sister, sometimes referred to as his cousin, Elizabeth. One night, Victor dreams that, “[He] thought [he] saw Elizabeth, in the bloom of health… Delighted and surprised, [he] embraced her; but as [he] imprinted the first kiss on her lips, they became livid with the hue of death…” (Shelley 60). Elizabeth embodies the image of Victors mother and that is the reason he wants to be with her. Once he lays a kiss upon her lips she once again embodies the image of Victor’s mother, only this time she embodies the dead image of his mother. This no longer makes Victor interested in Elizabeth because he cannot obtain her dead, the way he cannot obtain his mother. In order to obtain the parental figure in his life, he then creates a monster from dead corpses in order to become part of the Oedipus Complex himself. Victor stated that, “[He] had desired it with an ardour that far exceeded moderation; but now that [he] had finished, the beauty of the dream vanished, and breathless horror and disgust filled [his] heart” (Shelley 60). Unluckily for Victor, the monster he created was nothing like his mother, so he did not lust for the creature, and the creature did not lust for him in the way he wanted. Even though the creature was created using body parts from corpses, he didn’t fulfil Victors lust for an alive relationship with his dead mother.

-Alina Cantero