Acts of genesis, a feminist look at the changing face of the mother in selected works of science fiction by women

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Harris, Donna L.
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This thesis examines the role of the mother in selected works of science fiction written by women. Believing that society's perception of the maternal role has changed greatly in the last few decades, I set out to explore how this change is reflected by different female authors of science fiction. From a feminist perspective, I have considered how the mother is depicted in three novels: Frankenstein by Mary Shelley, The Gate To Women's Country by Sheri S. Tepper and He, She and It by Marge Piercy. The nineteenth century view of mother as "Angel of the House" had an impact on her fictional representations, in which she was sentimentalized and relegated to the background. Maternal representations experienced their greatest change after the growth of feminist beliefs in the 1960s. Science fiction has long been a male-dominated genre, but it has also displayed an interest in the reproduction of life, especially involving alien species. The Women's Movement, as well as the growing number of female authors, broadened the scope of science fiction, and female characters and their concerns began to receive greater attention. Despite Victor Frankenstein's usurpation of the maternal role, the mother may be abject in Frankenstein, but she is never absent; even the author herself acts as surrogate mother. In The Gate to Women's Country, women have taken control in order to pursue a theoretical dream of peace, but is this "radical feminist dystopia" a warning or wish-fulfillment. Marge Piercy embraces technology in order to challenge gender stereotypes and encourage the transgressing of boundaries in He, She and It.