In the novel Frankenstein, author Marry Shelley depicts character Victor Frankenstein as a scientist with a strong passion for forbidden knowledge and finding the answers to life through science. Though his intentions are good this leads him to the creation of a monster. Throughout the novel Frankenstein is constantly encountered by obstacles that test his passions for science and responsibility for his creation. For Victor it seems that the choice to abandon the monster is the easier path, rather than taking care of his creation. In the beginning of the book, right after the creation of the monster, Victor fled his home to get away from the creature, only to return and find that it had escaped.
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. Ambition was too potent as his thirst for knowledge transcended obsession and drove Victor into isolation and near self-destruction,
Therefore, Golding explores the fragility of order in a society under stress. He also expresses this through constantly referring to the conch as fragile such as in the line ‘the fragile white conch’, emphasizing that civility can be lost any moment. This is also shown when the conch smashes to pieces, now representing broken civility and chaos. At this point, Piggy also dies. ‘Piggy was dead and the conch smashed to powder’ enforces that Piggy represented the need for science and intellectual endeavour in society so the break of both of these symbols at the same time shows a sudden corruption of civilisation.
Although changes in context lead to changed values being reflected in texts, common concerns resonate over time and between texts. Mary Shelley’s novel Frankenstein (1818) and the film Bladerunner (1992), directed by Ridley Scott, both explore the consequences of an unrestrained pursuit of science and knowledge and the nature of humanity. Although both composers raise similar ideas and concerns, they are presented to the audience differently due to the differing contexts in which the two texts were composed. Mary Shelley composed her novel in the midst of the industrial revolution and during the Age of Enlightenment, while Ridley Scott developed his film at a time of unfettered capitalism and consumerism alongside technological advances in computing and genetic modification. In Frankenstein, Shelley displays the dire consequences that accompany the unrestrained pursuit of knowledge.
“Gothic and Romanticism” – David Punter Frankenstein: The Modern Prometheus and a Monster’s inevitable doom In Mary Shelley’s novel Frankenstein, it appears that Shelley attempts to draw an important analogy between the lone genius Prometheus, the archetypal seeker after forbidden wisdom, and her own protagonist Victor Frankenstein, who also dares to transgress boundaries in order to create life. Thus the subtitle The Modern Prometheus. However, it is crucial to note the invariable difference between both old and modern Prometheus. Whereas old Prometheus suffers alone for his sin, in the case of Shelley’s Prometheus, Frankenstein, the monster involuntarily partakes in the sin, by being its final product, and therefore has to suffer too. To the reader, it seems that Shelly consistently reminds us of the lack of responsibility on the part of Frankenstein, and the monster’s inherent innocence, who is only made evil by his circumstances.
Shelley’s use of Galvanism and Genesis, with the support of biblical allusion to criticise humanity’s disregard for nature during the Industrial Revolution in the 19th century is used to exemplify the detrimental consequences of science on individuals. The struggles face by the Creature in an attempt to live peacefully, supported by the Creature stating: ‘You gave me life…but left me to die’, emphasises on Victor’s lack of responsibility for his own actions, the repetition of first person narration ‘I’ and ‘me’ and the use of oxymoron capture the responders’ sympathy and leads to the conclusion that the Creature is possibly more human than Victor. The Creature also struggles to gain companionship from his creator and other individuals due to his grotesque physical appearance: ‘When I became fully convinced that I am the monster that I am’, this is supported by his statement: ‘My heart yearns to be known…’, the use of personification emphasise on the Creature’s desire to be ‘loved’ by
Sublime Nature in Frankenstein Mary Shelley uses nature several ways in this novel: as an omnipotent force of foreshadowing, the natural surroundings of this novel are shown to have therapeutic powers, do not harm nature for your own advantage, and as a restorative agent for Victor. In my opinion, Mary is trying to tell us that nature should not be altered. Shelley’s link between nature and the influential feelings of man is very evident throughout this book. Nature offers Victor and the monster the marvel of spiritual renewal. She purposely lay the elevated vision of Mother Nature with the frightening phenomenon of an artificial monster and his alarming exploits.
However, the values remain consistent and thus via the respective forms of the text, composers explore issues relating to humanity and unchecked science. Within each text, the composers similarly explore how when scientific endeavour is pursued without a moral frame, the consequences for creator and created, and furthermore humanity, are devastating. The impact on mankind is reflected as Victor Frankenstein brings his monster into existence. This is evident through the use of high modality as he says ‘a new species would bless me as its creator’ and ‘natures would owe their being to me’. Victor’s distant and cold language reveals his overwhelming hubris and reflects the conflation of scientific and Romantic paradigms.
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
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