Anne Mellor "Possessing Nature: The Female in Frankenstein"
** Homework Questions ** 355:
Explain: "By stealing the female's control over
reproduction Frankenstein has eliminated the female's primary
biological function and source of cultural power" (355).
What evidence does Mellor provide to support her claim
that "Frankenstein's implicit goal" is "creating a
society for men only" (355)?
In what ways is it true that Caroline Beaufort
"incarnates a patriarchal ideal of female self-sacrifice"
How is it true that "women cannot function effectively in
the public realm" (357)?
How is the De Lacey family "an alternative social
organization" (357)? How are they "a
social group based on justice, equality, and mutual affection"
How is Frankenstein "Mary Shelley's political
critique of a society founded on the unequal distribution of
power and possessions" (357)?
How does this critique contain "the suggestion that the
separation from the public realm of feminine affections and
compassion has caused much of this social evil" (358)?
According to Mellor, what causes Victor to end creation
of the female?
What, according to Mellor, is Victor's "most profound
erotic desire" (362)? How is this different from what she
considers Victor's "most potent desire" (363)?
Explain: "Mary Shelley envisions Nature as a sacred
life-force in which human beings ought to participate in
conscious harmony" (365).
Other Discussion Questions: 356:
Explain: "As a consequence of this sexual
division of labor, masculine work is kept outside of the
domestic realm; hence intellectual activity is
segregated from emotional activity" (356).
What are the consequences of this division?
How does Safie represent Mary Wollstonecraft? How does
she represent Mary Shelley herself?
How is his destruction of the female creature a "violent
Explain: "Uninhibited female sexual experience
threatens the very foundation of patriarchal power" (361).
Explain the reference to Fuseli's "The Nightmare"
(See image above).
Explain: "In place of a normal heterosexual
attachment to Elizabeth, Victor Frankenstein has substituted a
homosexual obsession with his creature" (363).
How, according to Mellor, does Nature
"resist" and "revenge" herself upon Victor's attempts to
How, according to Mellor, does Nature use
electricity to secure this revenge?
Explain: "As an ecological system of interdependent
organisms, Nature requires the submission of the individual
ego to the welfare of the family and the larger community"
Explain: "Where men have tended to identify moral
laws as abstract principles that clearly differentiated right
from wrong, women have tended to see moral choice as imbedded
in an ongoing shared life" (366).
How, according to Mellor, are the De Laceys "an archetype
of the egalitarian, benevolent, and mutually loving nuclear
Explain: "Frankenstein's failure to maintain keeping,
to preserve 'a calm and peaceful mind' (p. 51), is thus in
Mary Shelley's eyes both a moral and an aesthetic failure,
resulting directly in the creation of a hideous monster"