1Anne K. Mellor, “Possessing Nature: The Female in Frankenstein” From“Possessing Nature: The Female inFrankenstein.” InRomanticism and Feminism. Ed. Anne K. Mellor. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1988: 220-232. When Victor Frankenstein identifies Nature as female—“I pursued nature toherhiding places”—he participates in a gendered construction of the universe whose ramifications are everywhere apparent inFrankenstein. His scientific penetration and technological exploitation of female nature, which I have discussed elsewhere, is only one dimension of a more general cultural encoding of the female as passive and possessable, the willing receptacle of male desire. The destruction of the female implicit in Frankenstein’s usurpation of the natural mode of human reproduction symbolically erupts in his nightmare following the animation of his creature, in which his bride-to-be is transformed in his arms into the corpse of his dead mother—“a shroud enveloped her form, and I saw the grave-worms crawling in the folds of the flannel” (p. 53). By stealing the female’s control over reproduction, Frankenstein has eliminated the female’s primary biological function and source of cultural power. Indeed, for the simple purpose of human survival, Frankenstein has eliminated the necessity to have females at all. One of the deepest horrors of this novel is Frankenstein’s implicit goal of creating a society for men only: his creature is male; he refuses to create a female; there is no reason that the race of immortal
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