Victor Frankenstein - Man of the Century
Human life has been lengthened because of the successes of scientists in the region of medical science. Extending human life was also the goal of a 19th Century scientist named Victor Frankenstein in Mary Shelley's novel Frankenstein written in 1817. Following Frankenstein, scientists at MIT are researching ways to advance human life
. Frankenstein's main pursuit for progressing human life is to prevent future deaths of countless innocent people and to diminish the concept of death itself, and the following quote justifies that belief. "I thought, that I could bestow animation upon lifeless matter, I might in process of time . . . renew life where death had apparently devoted the body to corruption" (Shelley 166). It is amazing that still after almost two hundred years, Frankenstein's goals and ambitions of extending human life continue, as scientists conduct research on cloning and regenerating body parts to help mankind live longer.
Dr. Victor Frankenstein
is a scientist and, as a scientist, he knows it is his responsibility to help mankind; however, if he is unable to discover something that will, at least his research should lay a base for other scientists. "My operations might be incessantly baffled, and at last my work be imperfect; yet, when I considered the improvement which every day takes place in science and mechanics, I was encouraged to hope my present attempts would at least lay the foundations of future successes" (Shelly 165). By that quote, the reader can see that Frankenstein can not be blamed for wanting to interfere with nature, because it is his job as a scientist to guarantee the survival of humankind. His commitment and ambition should be praised as he explains that "In other studies you go as far as others have gone before you, and there is nothing more to
know, but in a scientific pursuit there is continual food for discovery and wonder" (163). He understands there are many possibilities in the field of science and he knows all he has to do is experiment with those possibilities. To him, if Christopher Columbus had not set out for India, "America would have been discovered more gradually" (167). Similarly, if Frankenstein had not experimented in the 1800s, scientists would not have achieved as much as they have today in the areas of cloning and creating human body parts. To prove the importance of testing science to its limits, he boldly states, "yet with how many things are we upon the brink of becoming acquainted, if cowardice or carelessness did not restrain our inquiries" (164). It is the scientist within Frankenstein that prompts him to create his monster, and not playing God, so he is a genius.
Similarly, scientists at MIT are working arduously with human tissue to create artificial human body parts for replacement therapy. "We can use this heart tissue and use it on a person who is having problems with his heart" states one of the researchers in MIT documentary. The quote emphasizes that although scientists are playing God, it is only to save lives. In the play, Frankenstein tries to create life in order to preserve it and prevent people from dying. After his mother's death, he becomes determined to understand everything about life. "Why do innocent people have to die?" he questions in the play. And certainly "after days and nights of incredible labour and fatigue, he became capable of bestowing animation upon lifeless matter" (Shelley 165). Frankenstein wants to stop people from dying, and after discovering the secret of life, he experiments, so someone else can be saved. Scientists today are doing almost the same thing as Frankenstein; they have found ways to extend life and they are doing their best to save lives.
In the last few years, scientists have cloned a sheep and are only moments away from cloning a human being, so, if a person needs a kidney, a heart, an arm, or any body organ, his clone can supply it to him. For the past few years, doctors had replaced an amputated body part with a temporary metal substitute of that ligament. Now with the help from scientists, millions of lives that die each year from injuries can now be helped. Research with stem cells for creating real organs and tissues is going on at MIT to give a person a real body part instead of a metal, robotic one. A person with an amputated leg is now given the chance to walk again because of medical science. Researchers at MIT have created an artificial nose which, if properly assembled, could be used by a person in need of one. "I want to be able to make an entire heart by the time I retire," admitted one of the scientists at MIT. The researcher's quote recognizes the importance of advancing in this type of science thus supporting Frankenstein's attempt at creating life. Because of Frankenstein's experimentation with life, a person disfigured by nature or through a car accident can, in future, have any of his or her organs replaced. A person dying from heart or kidney failure can trust in modern science to fix the problem, or at least prevent death for months. In fact, people count on scientists to discover anything and everything that will aid in the extension of human life, and, since Shelley's fictional Frankenstein has become a scientific advancement of this century, he should be highly praised for it.
In conclusion, Dr. Victor Frankenstein is a founder for the successes in medical science today. He should not be criticized for playing God and tampering with nature, instead he should be credited for experimenting to extend human life today. Without his experiments medical science would not be as advanced as it is now, and scientists
would not have the challenge to start their research. Researchers at MIT know that Frankenstein is right in his ambition to advance human life, thus they and other scientists today continue to research in the field of life. Finally, Frankenstein stands for a scientist who wants to test the possibilities of sciences and find out all they are capable of; a son who can not accept the death of his mother without trying to beat death; a scientist that wants to make sure that if he fails, someone else can succeed later; and a man that wants to prolong the lives of all human beings if he can, by stopping death. He is, therefore, the greatest scientist.
Documentary On MIT Research On Creating Human Body Parts. Nar. Alan Alda. Scientific American Frontiers. Connecticut Public Television. May 28, 2002.
Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
. A play by Nick DiMartino. Dir. Moses Goldberg. Nar. Professor McNamar. Global Stage Production. WLIW21 Presentation. Class Movie. HSS 101-019. Fall Semester, September 6, 2002.
Shelley, Mary. "From Frankenstein." The Example of Science. Ed. Robert E. Lynch, Thomas B. Swanzey, and John M. Coakley. Third Edition. Boston: Pearson Custom Publishing, 2003. (152-156).