Role of gender in the misuse of science, revisited 2017 Flashcards Preview

English Lit A Level: Frankenstein And THT > Role of gender in the misuse of science, revisited 2017 > Flashcards

Flashcards in Role of gender in the misuse of science, revisited 2017 Deck (4)
Loading flashcards...

What is the overview of the essay?

  1. In both texts, the misuse of science comes as a result of the male desire to assert control and intellect
  2. In both texts, this misuse of science causes the distortion of the process of reproduction and the female role in reproduction
  3. Consequently, in both novels, female characters must atone for the scientific mistakes of their masculine counterparts.
    - women become the passive victims in the male misuse of science

topic 1: misuse of science at the hands of male egotism.


NARRATIVE PARALLEL: for both W and F, male scientist asserts his ego by challenging laws/boundaries of nature

similar diction affirms the NARRATIVE PARALLEL:
W: ‘I may tread a land never before IMPRINTED by the foot of man’
F: ‘life and death appeared to me ideal bounds, which I should first BREAK THROUGH…torrent of light into our dark world’
- Shelley deploys image of physical imprinting==> depicts desire to have tangible effect on world around them==> vanity and egotism as pursuit of science comes as result of desire to brand something as one’s own.

> > PROMETHEAN SENSE OF HUBRIS: F’s allusion to Genesis through light imagery ‘torrent of light’ + ‘never before imprinted’- Shelley subverts Romantic veneration of Prometheus==> re-assesses figure through photo-feminist lens of male egotist.

in THT: assertion of male ego is founded in regime’s removal of science

  • patriarchal society==> male characters intrinsically higher status==> 1980s Ronald Reagan renewed importance of traditional values==> Atwood takes views to logical superlative

Commander (symbolic figure of patriarchal control of Gilead): ‘nature demands variety’, ‘all we have done is return to nature’s norm’==> ‘nature’= desire to assert his knowledge/intellect==> similar to F and W’s desires to ‘imprint’

  • whilst F admits that he has challenged the laws of nature, Gilead assert that they have returned to nature’s norm

Topic 2: despite the Commander’s view that Gilead has ‘returned to nature’s norm’, in both texts, the male misuse of science causes the distortion of the process of reproduction.


In Frankenstein’s singular creation of human life==> renders female biologically defunct

> > trance F falls into just after his creation of the creature alludes to this. When he kisses his bride to be ‘her lips became livid with the hue of death’ and she then transforms into his ‘dead mother’ …grave worms crawling in her shroud’

> > functions as powerful symbol of the way in which F has mutilated the biological function of the woman and mother
Proto-Freudian reading==> F’s ‘Oedipal Desire’ is indicative of his complete destruction of the natural norms of sexuality

> > in THT==> similar distortion of role of female in reproduction as a result of male misuse of science

  • in response to scientific excess, patriarchal regime Gilead has banned the use of science, and their obsession w/ repopulation and reproduction spurs them to create a new, distorted form of reproduction:
  • ‘Serena grips my hands’ ‘supposed to symbolise one flesh’

both authors deploy Gothic ambience in scenes of birth/reproduction, compounding sense of distortion and perversion

F: ‘workshop of filthy creation’ ‘slaughterhouse’
SENSATIONALISM and visceral images:
THT: ‘the smell is our own flesh’ ‘chanting envelops like membrane’

  • both authors write at time of BURGEONING SCIENTIFIC DISCOVERY + renewed interest in origin/creation of human life
  • Luigi Galvani + process of reanimation
  • steps taken in field of fertility treatment and genetic cloning
  • both present disturbing image of birth, which should be ultimate natural human function, in order to call for greater measure w/ science?

Topic 3: Consequently, in both texts, female characters must atone for the scientific mistakes of their masculine counterparts.
- in both novels, women become the passive victims of the male misuse of science


F’s failure at parental guidance= makes him accountable for every death ‘at the hands of’ his creature, particularly in relation to Justine and Elizabeth==> death of female characters is caused by desire to preserve his posterity.==> at hands of male egotism

S uses solipsistic, self-exonerating narrative voice: ‘I feared that I should be supposed mad, and this forever CHAINED my tongue’
- death of innocent directly caused by his own self-devotion

NARRATIVE PARALLEL w/ Elizabeth; even until v moment of her death, F continues belief that creature will ‘consummate his crimes’ by F’s death==> DRAMATIC IRONY

In both F and THT, women become the passive victims of male misuse of science
: ‘bloodless arms and lifeless form, flung by the murderer on its bridal bier’ ==> Henri Fuseli ‘The Nightmare’==> Shelley deploys Gothic motif of female, who is the sexually passive victim of male violence==> use of literary motif heightens sense of passivity

In THT: O’s increasingly passive narrative voice :’ the fact is I don’t want to leave, escape, cross the boarder into freedom’

  • reinforced by use of PALIMPSEST framed by outer narrative of ‘historical notes’ of male academic, provides a further sense of female oppression at the hands of the male assertion of intellect==> Offred not viewed as human being, but empirical historical study
  • protagonist diverges from rebellion of protagonist of dystopian==> Wilson of Orwell’s 1984
  • adherence to/ divergence from literary genre aids depiction of female oppression because of male misuse of science