Tag Archive: reproduction

Scientific Chauvinism

By Mahealani LaRosa

Image result for erasmus darwin drawing ancient

Anne Mellor viciously tears apart the gruesome side of the study of science in her essay “A Feminist Critique of Science”, explaining in great detail how Mary Shelley exposed mad scientist Victor Frankenstein to be a greedy, power-hungry anti-feminist. It is important to point out that Mellor does not criticize all science or scientists, she condemns only the kind of science that “instead of slowly endeavouring to lift up the veil concealing the wonderful phenomena of living nature; full of ardent imaginations… vainly and presumptuously attempt[s] to tear it asunder” (3). Mary Shelley’s novel Frankenstein is full of descriptive natural scenes that are perceived differently by various characters. Mellor critiques “the scientist who analyses, manipulates, and attempts to control nature unconsciously”, scientists like Victor Frankenstein, because by doing so these scientists are engaging “in a form of oppressive sexual politics” (12). Mary Shelley shows that Victor Frankenstein is a dominant male scientist who expects nature to grant him power and control, and who believes he can “penetrate into the recesses of nature and show how she works in her hiding places” (3). Make note of the use of the word “penetrate”, and how nature is referred to as a ‘her’. The word ‘nature’ has very feminine connotations; many people refer to nature as Mother Nature or Mother Earth. So when scientists say they would like to “penetrate” nature, it is grotesque and vulgar. Victor Frankenstein admires and looks up to “men who had penetrated deeper and knew more” (46), so much so that he decides to penetrate nature himself, but go a step further.

Victor’s passion for alchemy and chemistry and the natural world are representative of his penetration into nature, but he actually believes he can give birth to new life without a female. In a symbolic sense, Mother Nature is the female he is penetrating and the female he then impregnates, meaning that he and Mother Nature created the monster. So while he believes that he is this all powerful man who does not need a woman to create life, the truth is he actually needed nature, this feminine force, to create the creature. Throughout the novel, nature is this passive female force that solely exists to receive male desire. The creature is appreciative and in awe of nature, while Frankenstein seems to want to destroy it. It is interesting to see that he created this male creature without a female, and that he also refuses to create a female creature. He says that he is afraid to create the female partner because the creature would want “children, and a race of devils would be propagated upon the earth” (144), but it could also be possible that while he is angry that the life he created is distorted and imperfect, he is still satisfied that he created a male life and succeeded in proving that the world does not need females at all. Perhaps he wants to create this “new species” (57) that consists of solely male creatures. Another way to look at his fear of creating a female mate is that he is simply afraid of female sexuality. He is afraid of the fact that she would have the power to reproduce, he is afraid that she would be able to mate with regular men, and he even goes as far to say “she might become ten thousand times more malignant than her mate, and delight, for its own sake, in murder and wretchedness” (144). He is afraid that this female will be even more violent and murderous than the creature he already created. Victor is a prime example of the male chauvinist, he believes he is superior to women so much that he believes their existence is not necessary. Mellor does a great job of critiquing scientists like him and pointing out the blatant sexism that still remains in the scientific world.



Varying Intentions

Written by Cathryn Flores

Throughout the course of the novel Frankenstein, Mary Shelly discusses the relationship between the creature and his creator, Victor Frankenstein. This relationship reveals the different ways the working class, represented by the creature, is treated by capitalists, which is represented by Victor. Warren Montag’s essay “The “Workshop of Filthy Creation”: A Marxist Reading of Frankenstein“, gives a Marxist perspective on the functioning and structure of the story of Frankenstein and his creation. I agree with Montag’s statement that the creature is “not so much the sign of the proletariat as of its unrepresentability” because the creature has no real self-identity, and can therefore not be a true member of the working class, but only a sole figure of society that contains no true purpose.

Montag expresses his idea that the creature is the sign of the proletariat’s unrepresentability because of the fact that he was solely created to exist in the world, rather than to truly live in it. This concept is contrary to the idea of a proletariat, which  signifies the working class and their duties to continue the cycle of a capitalist society. For example, when devising a plan to create his “creature”, Victor Frankenstein states that “a new species would bless me as its creator and source; many happy and excellent natures would owe their being to me” (Shelly 57). Frankenstein reveals his intentions for creating this “monster” was for his own personal, capitalistic gain, rather than to give an inanimate object the chance at a life of well-being and free will. Instead, the scientist explains that he will reign as the master of this creature and expect praise and glory throughout this process. Victor’s intentions for this creature do not include the possibility for the it to even exist as a proletariat in society. Instead, the creature is only intended to be misrepresented by his lack of ability and opportunity to reside in the working-class, and is destined to live its life in the shadows of other beings.


A Rise of Action From Nothing

Image result for proletariat frankenstein

Christopher Martinez

In “The ‘Workshop of Filthy Creation’: A Marxist Reading of Frankenstein,” Warden Montag argues that the creature is “not so much the sign of the proletariat as of its unrepresentability.” With all respect to Warden, I would disagree with his statement because Frankenstein does represent the proletariat as a whole. Montag states that “if the modern (proletariat) were allowed to appear, the monster would no longer be a monster, no longer be alone, but part of a ‘Race of Devils” (480). His statement might be true, but the monster serves as the journey and voice of every proletariat as a whole.

I decided to focus on Chapter 20 (pg 145-146). During this part of the book, the monster confronts Victor about his new mate. Victor destroys all the work he has done just to punish the monster. The monsters madness can be shown through the quote, “Slave, I have reasoned with you, but you have proved yourself unworthy of my condescension. Remember that you I have power, you believe yourself miserable, but I can make you so wretched that the light of day will be hateful to you. You are my creator, but I am your master – obey!” (146) Symbolism and tension can also be depicted in this quote because the monster (proletariat) mentions that Victor (the bourgeoisie) is his slave likewise, lower classes in society can overthrow the rich through an action. This gives me a feeling of letting go of chains. Ambiguity is also shown considering we have to decide what the action to change is. The reason I am saying this is because as a proletariat myself reading this book can give me different ideas towards action against aristocratic ideals. Thus, being annoyed and angry at being exploited lead up to the moment where the proletariat stands up for themselves. To add on, Mary Shelley uses a voice that makes me interpret that she threatening the bourgeoisie. Words like ‘I’ are used a lot in this section of the book. Such as in the quote, “I will watch with the wiliness of a snake, that I may sting with its venom. Man, you shall repent of the injuries you inflict” (146). I get that horrific mood when reading this. In other words, I interpret that Mary Shelley is threatening the rich just like the monster is doing against Victor.

Throughout the whole section, there is a motif of rage. Victor made the monster reach up to his tipping point. As a consequence, Victor has to face an inevitable horror at some point. I don’t feel as if anything is missing because clearly the monster represents every single proletariat – unlike what Montag thinks. To make this more clear, throughout the book we see the growth of the monster (such as through education). Once the monster has the knowledge of the mind to act between right and wrong, we see the confrontation. Similarly, as I mentioned before, this can all relate to any low-income student because through knowledge and anticipation we can act upon our own people: the proletariat.