Genetics in Frankenstein by Mary Shelley

657 Words3 Pages
It is with this revelation that Frankenstein reveals its irony. What Frankenstein, and the scientific world all desire is to create and save lives. Dorothy Nelkin, in her essay "Genetics, God, and Sacred DNA" articulates the similarities. She writes that while Christians pursue a pious lifestyle to secure their eternal place in heaven, "research advertises offers to preserve a person's gene set as 'the closest chance at immortality people have at the moment'" (Society, 24). She maintains that "DNA, in many descriptions, shares striking qualities with the Christian soul. . . . It appears as relatively independent of the body, giving the body life, power, and true identity." These parallels between such opposed ideologies from the past which are too evident to ignore.
Although she does not express it literally, Shelley implies that it is in fact electricity sparks Frankenstein's interest and it is what he uses to animate the monster. In his childhood experience, when Victor sees lightning strike a tree, he learns from the "man of great research . . . the explanation of a theory which he had formed on the subject of electricity and galvanism, which was at once new and astonishing to Victor" (Shelley, 41). On the dreadful night of the creature's creation, Frankenstein "infuses the spark of life" into the monster's lifeless body (Shelly, 57).
Finally, Shelley's mirroring of character between Frankenstein and Walton serves as a contrast between her fears and her hopes for what the future of science holds. Frankenstein, despite his persistent loathing for all he has done, refuses to see the error of his ways. He cautions Walton, "Learn from me, if not by my precepts, how dangerous is the acquirement of knowledge, and how much happie...

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... provide us with the capacity for disaster. Shelley demonstrates this trend in Frankenstein, through the consequences of a scientist’s ambitious pursuit to create life, and raises the ever prevalent concerns with progression in science. However, she does this in a way that does not condemn the pursuit of knowledge or progress in science, but rather cautions us to take great care when exploring into new and untouched territories of nature. It's important that this warning is considered, with the progress of things like cloning, genetic engineering and countless other developments today that hold potential issues never imagined by those of Shelley's generation. Before we find ourselves mired in horrors generated by lack of scientific foresight, we need to ask ourselves, as Walton does: "What can stop the determined heart and resolved will of man?" (Shelley, 23).
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