Tag Archive: submissive

The Feminine Spirit

Tania De Lira-Miranda


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.

By: Sandra Tzoc

In “Frankenstein”, Mary Shelley writes about the creaturescapegoat‘s gruesome actions one which includes the ploy that eventually leads to Justine’s execution. This is a very questionable scene because Victor is well aware that Justine is not behind the murder of William however, he does not voice the truth and in the end, Justine pays the consequences. This raises questions as to why Victor stayed quiet, perhaps the answer is: he felt guilty. Through Burke’s eyes it is possible for it to be that way. In his writing Reflections on the Revolution in France, Edmund Burke repels anything abstract, anything that is not in order. He condemned the French Revolution because he thought individuality was foolish and that the revolution would eventually translate into an anarchy. Burke states: “[prejudice] renders a man’s virtue his habit”, moreover that prejudice would act as a guide to every “man”. Burke was a man who preferred to believe in mainstream ideas even if they were prejudice because he thought that a person’s individual thoughts could not compare.

This is important to note as Burke believed in submissive women and found beauty in their obedience to the state and church. Burke valued class and order and the French Revolution dismantled this rank thus, destroying his perception of beauty. He would probably be proud of Victor and his silence because although Victor was foul for staying quiet, Justine would simply be an offering to the state, to Victor, to the men. Furthermore, she was a servant who was below Victor and Burke would probably care less about her execution given that she was lower class. The prejudice that Victor used against Justine could possibly be presented in the form of scapegoating. He projected all his feelings of guilt onto Justine and let her take the blame for what he had created. He could not possibly come forward to say the truth, that the creature was to blame, because then that would mean he himself was a culprit.