Presentation on theme: "By Alex, Kassie, and Robert. Frankenstein is in one sense the literary manifestation of an entire population’s fear of scientific advancement. The novel."— Presentation transcript:
Frankenstein is in one sense the literary manifestation of an entire population’s fear of scientific advancement. The novel serves both as a reflection of present times and a warning for the future. However, in another sense Shelley doesn’t condemn science itself, but rather the abuse and misuse of it by ignorant or irresponsible individuals. Either way, Frankenstein would warn us to proceed with caution as we continue to discover and to create.
“A new light seemed to dawn upon my mind, and bounding with joy, I communicated my discovery to my father. My father looked carelessly at the title page of my book and said, "Ah! Cornelius Agrippa! My dear Victor, do not waste your time upon this; it is sad trash..." Volume 2 Chapter 6
Dr. Frankenstein’s childish want for rebellion spurs him on to study science. Dr. Frankenstein later points out that this was a major turning point in his life for if his father had simply said the book was good, he would not have been so adamant in pursuing science. It seems that the rebellious birth of Dr. Frankenstein’s pursuit of knowledge rightly begins an unfulfilling pursuit. Further, Dr. Frankenstein realizes if he only listened to his father (the right thing to do) he could have likely avoided his terrible fate.
“"The ancient teachers of this science," said he, "promised impossibilities and performed nothing. The modern masters promise very little; they know that metals cannot be transmuted and that the elixir of life is a chimera but these philosophers, whose hands seem only made to dabble in dirt, and their eyes to pore over the microscope or crucible, have indeed performed miracles. They penetrate into the recesses of nature and show how she works in her hiding-places. They ascend into the heavens; they have discovered how the blood circulates, and the nature of the air we breathe. They have acquired new and almost unlimited powers; they can command the thunders of heaven, mimic the earthquake, and even mock the invisible world with its own shadows” (volume 3 chapter 4)
This professor of Victor’s gives him a way to see scientific inquiry as stemming from older traditions. This respect for the old combined with an interest in the new is what allows Victor to go forward in his scientific explorations.
“It was the secrets of heaven and earth that I desired to learn” “You seek for knowledge and wisdom as I once did; and I ardently hope that the gratification of your wishes may not be a serpent to sting you, as mine has been.”
Looking at these quotes in the sense of cause and effect almost seems contradictory. Today, knowledge is almost universally aspired for. The more knowledge we as society can obtain the more we believe we can heal and better ourselves. However, in Frankenstein this pursuit of knowledge is sinful. Possibly we should leave our knowledge of the world to faith and not aspire to understand the Heavens but simply trust in them.
Or maybe it is not if we aspire for knowledge but just how. Frankenstein numerous times seems ill prepared for what is it he’ll do after he creates the creature. Even immediately after he creates the monster he regrets an outcome he was not prepared for. It seems Shelley’s novel warns that not understanding the capabilities of knowledge or the possibilities of outcomes we can create but not control can be catastrophic.
It seems today we could heed Frankenstein’s warning, as we much like Dr. Frankenstein have the capability of creating our own destruction.
“Everywhere I see bliss, from which I alone am irrevocably excluded” “I beheld the wretch—the miserable monster whom I had created”
It is notable that at the beginning of the novel, Frankenstein is seen as horrific however this is ironic because at birth, humans are seen as innocent and pure. EX: "..we are unfashioned creatures, but half made up, if one wiser, better, dearer than ourselves -- such a friend ought to be -- do not lend his aid to perfectionate our weak and faulty natures." pg. 13 Letter 4
Another message that is seen throughout the novel is that a person should not question God’s power and authority because it is simply not our place as humans. Humanity in general is seen as flawed (evil) and God is seen as the all mighty figure (good) and this hints that one should not question this like Sr. Frankenstein did. EX: "The fallen angel becomes a malignant devil. Yet even that enemy of God and man had friends and associates in his desolation; I am alone" pg.114 Chapter 15
The notion that Victor Frankenstein sought out to destroy death and create an alternate to life enables the reader to see another of Mary Shelley’s key messages. She suggests that god will turn against those who go against God’s will and natural order. God is going against Victor Frankenstein and plans to destroy him or anybody else that goes against his will or the natural way of life. This serves as a warning against playing god. EX: “CURSED, CURSED, CREATOR! Why did I live? Why in that instant, did I not extinguish the spark of existence which you had wantonly bestowed?” Dr. Frankenstein pg. 116 Chapter 16
The reader sympathizes with Victor Frankenstein because it is natural for humans to forgive. Though the monster sinned, the reader sees that Frankenstein actually had good intentions to cure the human race of death. However, the reader sees that the monster is in turn not evil under his horrible appearance but an innocent and childlike creature. EX: “When I looked around I saw and heard of none like me. Was I, a monster, a blot upon the earth from which all men fled and whom all men disowned?” The Monster pg.99 Chapter 13