domesticity and motherhood
morality, and reproduction work come together in Frankenstein
to illustrate the mounting anxiety felt by Shelley and others writing
at the cusp of the Industrial Revolution about a new way of life, guided
by science, that threatened older social and moral orders. As her novel
demonstrates, Shelley was concerned that without the checks and balances
of domestic morality, science could be used to usurp women's role in
the reproductive process and to create unimaginable abortions of nature.
Victor's simultaneous rejection of the domestic sphere and circumvention
of sexual reproduction serves to undermine women's social roles in two
important ways: by denying their contributions to the reproduction of
the human race and by erasing their status as educators in the home.
It is not just that Shelley helped create science fiction as a genre,
then, but that she also created it as a literary form with the potential
for strong social and scientific critique.
|domesticity and morality|