Shaped by their distinctly different contexts, Shelley and Scott strive to convey this notion, through bold cinematic and literary techniques, characterisation and themes, of the fatal path humanity has placed itself on. Mary Shelley’s seminal novel, Frankenstein 1818, is a moral fable combining conflicting paradigms of Romantic idealism and Enlightenment rationalism. Shelley delves into these ideologies in a classic gothic horror story that presents the unequivocal issues concerning the ethics and consequences of the pursuit of knowledge and scientific experimentation. Influenced by the increasing popularity of galvanism, Shelley effectively illustrates her apprehensions through the character development of Victor Frankenstein and his juxtaposition against nature. Victor admits his deep desire for ‘immortally and power’ through ‘penetrating the secrets of nature’, which is manifested in his technological innovation of the creature, highlighting the extreme yet realistic potential for technology to create human life.
The parallelism between Victor Frankenstein and Prometheus is seen through both of their actions of trying to play God by giving life. Both Frankenstein and Prometheus tried to create their own being or race to worship them, and were punished in the end for their endeavors. In “Frankenstein”, one can see the power struggle between Frankenstein and The Creature. Frankenstein becomes obsessed with his studies and project of creating a human, and in a way becomes power thirsty as he plays God by giving life. When his experiment comes to life, Frankenstein gets scared, thus giving The Creature all of the power he previously held.
Shelly suggests science is dangerous because of the enticing discovery of creation, striving for the ability to interchange death to life. She shows this enticement by Dr. Frankenstein’s utter infatuation with his occupation, he finds himself “engaged, heart and soul, in the pursuit of some [new] discoveries.” Shelly displays the thought of science to be problematic when Dr. Frankenstein confesses that “I knew well, therefore, what would be my father’s feelings; but I could not tear my thoughts from my employment, loathsome in itself, but which had taken an irresistible hold of my imagination.” Shelly shows that Dr. Frankenstein is so enticed by the thought of restoring life upon the dead, that he
Man’s liberal rights and the nature of humanity are also prevalent and are further reflective of the issues concerning society at the time. Shelley challenges the idea of the creative genius being a driving force in the progression of humanity, reflective of society’s concerns for potential harm to emerge from over-reaching. Victor Frankenstein plays the role of the over-reaching protagonist who desired “to become greater than his nature will allow.” Shelley conveys the concerns in pursuing knowledge that mere mortals should not possess. Victor longs to “penetrate the secrets of nature” discovering the astonishing power of “bestowing animation on lifeless matter.” This idea draws on the novel’s subtitle, “The Modern Prometheus” with Victor taking the metaphoric “fire” from the God’s and having to suffer the consequences. The novel, like “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner” serves as a cautionary tale.
Her warning of the dangers of such actions is encapsulated within Victor’s concerning words of “how dangerous is the acquirement of knowledge”, whilst Shelley’s use of a fragmented epistolatory narrative adds a disturbing sense of truth and realism, foreshadowing the dark consequences of Frankenstein’s actions. Shelley’s warning is evident throughout the novel which ultimately reflects her context through the concern of scientists within her era exploiting the advancements in science. It also reinforces the dangers of our humanity’s inherent yearning to play the role of the Creator. Such a warning also exists within Scott’s “Blade Runner” where the director echoes the rise of capitalist principles through the symbolic dominance of Tyrell’s towering dwelling, a reflection of both his desire for omnipotence and commercial power. Scott’s warning of the dangers of
Frankenstein Critical / Analytical Essay Question: Discuss the ideas developed by the text creator in your chosen text about the individual’s appetite for knowledge for themselves and others. Science, for all it has to contribute towards human discovery and intelligence isn't the ultimate answer to existence. As Frankenstein demonstrates, there are always repercussions for behavior conducted. A theme that emerges in the book Frankenstein, that is made quite apparent, is the pursuit of knowledge Victor strives for and how that proves to become harmful over time. His desire to learn about these biological sciences tends to make Frankenstein an outcast in society becoming more and more involved.
As a romantic novel, Frankenstein responds to the encroachment of rationalism and the Age of Enlightenment, specifically the unknown repercussions of man’s hubristic pursuit of knowledge. Shelley’s apprehension to science, influenced by the late 18th century industrial revolution and galvanism, is encapsulated by Frankenstein as he ‘infuse[s] a spark of being,’ forming a creature that ultimately destroys him. This is an intertextual reference to the subtitle of the novel, “The Modern Prometheus”, evoking the Greek myth of man’s desire to become god and paralleling the disastrous consequences stemming from ambition. Additionally, the epistolary structure of Walton’s letters acts as a framing device to Frankenstein’s destruction, foreshadowing the result of his own journey. Shelley utilizes Walton as a foil to Frankenstein drawing comparison
‘Frankenstein’ was written at one such critical time in human development: the Industrial Revolution was reaching its peak, achieving a range of technological feats never yet before imagined, creating the space for individuals to experiment endlessly with the possibilities of development. At the same time those individuals who supported the Romantic Movement at that time – like Shelley – were convinced that love and compassion were key values to guide society. Mary Shelley uses her novel text, ‘Frankenstein’ to warn about the dangers of unchecked scientific progress and the importance of holding onto key human values such as love and compassion in order to maintain humanity in social advancement. She performs this warning partly through the use of a gothic writing style, creating a dark and heavy mood and a focus on macabre images and content. Shelley was concerned too that the Romantic obsession with the sublime beauty of human imagination could
Everyone and everything was put on earth for a reason and it is in a search for identity where one finds his/her reason for existence. In the novel Frankenstein, a main theme is search for identity. Victor Frankenstein discovered a great interest in the field of science and pursued dreams of becoming a scientist. He was astounded with what the world of science could explain and create. He believed that he had found his identity in his youth.
In Ray Hammond’s critical essay, he saw the novel as Mary Shelly’s “means of expressing her innermost fears about life and death in a tangible form (Hammond).” Both Shelly and her mother suffered “birthing horros which are echoed in Frankenstein (Hammond).” Shelly’s novel can be seen as a critique on amoral science, or science without forethought. In Mary Shelley's novel, Frankenstein, the character of Frankenstein shows the danger of playing God and the ethical questions presented when man does not consider the ethical questions his experiments present. The pursuit of knowledge is at the heart of Frankenstein, as the good doctor attempts to go beyond anything ever attempted and discover the unthinkable: the secret of life. Frankenstein’s experiment is made with good intentions, as he believes his creation will help humanity. "The accomplishment of his toils" is the creature, created from human body parts Frankenstein harvested from graveyards (34).