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FrankensteinAnnotated for Scientists, Engineers, and Creators of All Kinds$
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Mary Shelley, David H. Guston, Ed Finn, and Jason Scott Robert

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780262533287

Published to MIT Press Scholarship Online: January 2018

DOI: 10.7551/mitpress/9780262533287.001.0001

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Frankenstein, Gender, and Mother Nature

Frankenstein, Gender, and Mother Nature

(p.239) Frankenstein, Gender, and Mother Nature

Anne K. Mellor

The MIT Press

Why did Mary Shelley create THE myth of modern science on June 16, 1816? This essay explores the autobiographical and scientific origins of Frankenstein, or the Modern Prometheus, focusing on the ways in which the sexual division of labor in 19th Century Britain shaped the novel. Victor Frankenstein’s project – to have a baby without a woman (and thus eliminate the biological necessity for females) – points to the myriad ways in which the women in the novel, from Elizabeth Lavenza, Caroline Beaufort, and Justine Moritz to the female creature, are de-valued or destroyed. But in Mary’s feminist novel, Mother Nature fights back, killing Victor and transforming his creature into a monster. Shelley’s novel implicitly argues that human beings must co-operate with rather than dominate the natural order of reproduction.

Keywords:   Gender, Nature, Domestic Affections, Women, Sexuality

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