In Frankenstein, Mary Shelley challenges the motives and ethical uncertainties of the scientific developments of her time. This critique has become increasingly relevant as modern scientists endeavor into previously unimagined realms of the natural world through the use of cloning and genetic engineering. Through careful analysis, we can see how the novel illustrates both the potential dangers of these exploits and the irony of the conflicts between science and creationism.
Prior to the birth of the story, Mary Shelley had begun to learn of advancements and speculation in the scientific world of the early nineteenth century; in Frankenstein's introduction, editor M. K. Joseph asserts that "Mary Shelley wrote in the infancy of modern science, when its enormous possibilities were just beginning to be seen" (xii). Interest in electricity, premature concepts of evolution, and other post-Enlightenment developments seized the attention of Mary and her lover, English writer Percy Shelley. Scientific news and rumors provided as numerous topics for discussion between the Shelleys and their peers: "Many and long were the conversations between Byron and [Percy] Shelley . . . various philosophical doctrines were discussed, and among others the principle of life, and whether there was any probability of its ever being discovered and communicated," wrote Shelley in her 1831 introduction.
Marylin Butler, in her article "The first Frankenstein and Radical Science," describes how William Lawrence, a physician, lecturer, and friend to the Shelleys, may have had a profound influence on the Shelleys' perceptions and opinions of science. Butler reports how Lawrence was a passionate student of "materialist science," a re...
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...ngman York Press, 1992.
Garber, Frederick. The Autonomy of the Self from Richardson to Huysmans. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1982.
Kass, Leon R. Toward a More Natural Science. New York: The Free Press, 1985.
Levine, George. The Endurance of Frankenstein. Los Angeles: Moers, 1974.
Nelkin, Dorothy. "Genetics, God, and Sacred DNA." Society May/June 1996: 22-25.
Patterson, Arthur Paul. A Frankenstein Study. http://www.watershed.winnipeg.mb.ca/Frankenstein.html
Shelley, Mary. Frankenstein. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1980.
Smith, Christopher. Frankenstein as Prometheus. http://www.umich.edu/~umfandsf/class/sf/books/frank/papers/FrankCS.html
Spark, Muriel. Mary Shelly. New York: Dutton, 1987.
Williams, Bill. On Shelley's Use of Nature Imagery. http://www.umich.edu/~umfandsf/class/sf/books/frank/papers/FrankWJW.html
In this essay, the author
Analyzes how mary shelley challenges the motives and ethical uncertainties of the scientific developments of her time in frankenstein.
Analyzes how mary shelley's interest in electricity, premature concepts of evolution, and other post-enlightenment developments seized the attention of mary and her lover, percy.
Analyzes how marylin butler's article, "the first frankenstein and radical science," describes how william lawrence, a physician, lecturer, and friend to the shelleys, may have had profound influence on their perceptions of science.
Analyzes how butler's assertion may hold true as we examine the classic novel for indications of shelley’s influences. frankenstein attempts to meld the values of science and religion.
Opines that mary shelley chose to impart a symbolic meaning with respect to the scientific efforts of her era, but the question remains: what was her intended message?
Analyzes how shelley's 1818 preface states that she has endeavored to preserve the truth of the basic principles of human nature, while not scrupulously innovating upon their combinations.
Analyzes how shelley uses frankenstein and walton to depict two different outcomes of the same story.
Analyzes how victor frankenstein plays an active role in the plot and provides us with clues to the story's meaning. with an upper-middle class upbringing, he is allowed time to pursue his own interests.
Opines that their inquiries were directed to the metaphysical, or, in its highest sense, the physical secrets of the world.
Analyzes how frankenstein develops an obsessive desire to understand the fundamental laws of the cosmos through his education at the university at ingolstadt.
Analyzes shelley's theme of reckless pursuit of knowledge, which may generate consequences of dire proportions, as illustrated by leon kass in toward a more natural science.
Analyzes frankenstein's lust for greatness and the power of his ego. he dreams of a scientific accomplishment which will secure his place in history.
Analyzes how shelley suggests a powerful and dangerous objective of science: the quest for immortality. frankenstein's design to bestow life upon the nonliving can only represent the innate human fear of death.
Analyzes how shelley's ideas are insinuated through frankenstein, while kass' observation is more blatant: "indeed, prolongation of healthy and vigorous life is perhaps the central goal and meaning of the modern scientific project."
Analyzes how dorothy nelkin's essay "genetics, god, and sacred dna" articulates the similarities between historically opposed ideologies.
Analyzes shelley's subtle parody of the tension by playing with suggestions made by the proponents of science/religion merger in the post-enlightenment era.
Analyzes how shelley implies that it is electricity that excites frankenstein's interest and which he uses to animate the monster.
Analyzes how shelley's mirroring of character between frankenstein and walton serves as a contrast between her fears and her hopes for the future of science.
Analyzes how frankenstein expresses shelley's concern that scientists will not learn from their mistakes, but rather, allow progress to consume and destroy humankind.
Opines that a human being in perfection should always preserve calm and peaceful mind, and never allow passion or transitory desire to disturb his tranquillity.
Analyzes how walton chooses the future which shelley hopes for. feeling the pressure and needs of his fellow human beings, he acquiesces to their wishes to forsake.
Analyzes how shelley cautions us to take great care when wielding the powerful sword of science. the progress of space exploration, sub-atomic studies, and genetic engineering may reveal issues never imagined.
Shelley, Mary. "From Frankenstein." The Example of Science. Ed. Robert E Lynch and Thomas B. Swanzey. New York: Pearson Publishing, 2000. 152-156.
In this essay, the author
Analyzes how the revival of the feminist movement, which boldly opposes the stereotypical characteristics of women in society, reflects on scholarly works in science.
Analyzes mary shelley's portrayal of elizabeth frankenstein as a creative writer and loving wife in the film "frankenstein".
Analyzes how stephen jay gould, in "women's brains," questions the validity of paul broca, a professor of clinical surgery at the faculty of medicine in paris.
Analyzes how broca's brain weight decreases with age, and his women were, on average, considerably older than his men.
Explains that paul broca chose his female subjects to be significantly older and noticeably shorter than his male subjects, not taking into account the effect of age and height on the size of the brain.
Argues that medical textbooks and scientific publications describe the process of human reproduction by using degenerative or deprecatory terms for the female reproductive processes.
Compares sperms, which are small, "streamlined," and invariably active. they "deliver" and activate the developmental program of the egg.
Explains that the words and vocabulary used in the medical textbooks have been carefully and deliberately picked so as to stress the passive roles of females and reinforce the superiority complex of males in society.
Explains that women are superior biologically. they are able to cope with stress better, have fewer heart problems, and live longer.
Explains that women have achieved respectable and honorable positions in society, and an internet article, "women are biologically superior to men, say doctors", states that biased and crude scientific methods have no place in science.
Describes the works of mary shelley, nick dimartino, moses goldberg, and professor mcnamar.
Science in Shelley's Frankenstein
In Shelley's Frankenstein, it's interesting to use the text to ask the question, whose interest's lie at the heart of science? Why is Victor Frankenstein motivated to plunge the questions that bringing life to inanimate matter can bring? Victor Frankenstein's life was destroyed because of an obsession with the power to create life where none had been before. The monster he created could be seen as a representation of all those who are wronged in the selfish name of science. We can use Shelley's book to draw parallels in our modern society, and show that there is a danger in the impersonal relationship that science creates between the scientist and his work.
In this essay, the author
Analyzes how shelley's frankenstein asks the question, whose interest lies at the heart of science?
Analyzes how frankenstein's monster, a mummy endued with animation, could not be so hideous as that wretch.
Analyzes how frankenstein never stopped to consider the consequences of his actions on his fellow human beings or the creature he was creating.
Opines that shelley's frankenstein was an insight on the future because she saw that we couldn't trust science alone to solve our problems.
Opines that humanity needs to develop a sense of scientific patience.
Analyzes how an article about an italian scientist, dr. severino antinori, implies that the scientific community is skeptical about his truthfulness because he has not come up with any proof.
Quotes john kilner, the president of a u.s. think tank called the center for bioethics and human dignity, who reminds us that there are those who would continue this dangerous, unethical quest.
Opines that despite social and ethical questions looming about the question of cloning, there are scientists who rush ahead anyway.
Analyzes how the term science creates a distance between an individual and what they are doing. shelley had an anti-science bias, but the choices we make lead to self-destructive and harmful systems of action.
Quotes bishop from "enemies of promise" to state that scientists have a responsibility to work openly with the public for the good of all.
Opines that it is up to us as a society to become more interested and aware of the advances science is making, as well as encourage and promote scientists to be more open about their experimentation.
Opines that victor frankenstein, like dr. antinori and his contemporaries, did his work in the dark. he hid his progress from humanity and did things that were socially and ethically immoral.
Opines that frankenstein is a novel approach to an issue that should be more important in our daily lives.
Explains that experts are wary of human clone claims.
Butler, Marilyn. "Frankenstein and Radical Science." Reprinted in Mary Shelley's Frankenstein. Norton Critical Edition. 1993; New York: W. W. Norton, 1996. 302-313.
In this essay, the author
Analyzes how mary shelley's frankenstein explores the downfall of certain human characteristics, set to the backdrop of creation, destruction, and preservation.
Analyzes how victor frankenstein's desire for knowledge motivates him to learn great quantities, ultimately causing the creation of a belligerent being, and the death of those he loves.
Analyzes how victor's creation of the monster highlights the depth of his destruction. he regards his "child" heartlessly, while harold bloom notes that he is nothing less than a moral idiot in regard to the "monster."
Analyzes how the monster, abandoned by victor, is destine to destroy, while plagued with the desire for knowledge, just as victor. his idiosyncrasies and lack of guidance lead him in a negative and painful line of self-discovery.
Explains that the discovery that one is fallen is a discovery of one's self-divided, murderous, material nature and capable of any horror, including but not limited to sex, death, and filthy literary creation.
Analyzes how the monster does not take revenge directly upon his creator, but instead, he turns the hatred for his creator into action. the monster indirectly causes the death of victor's father and himself.
Analyzes how victor's anger and self-hate are reinforced by a desire for knowledge. the monster learns about life, the word, and the relationships that exist between living things.
Analyzes how victor's transgressions are harmful, but his interaction with robert walton helps someone avoid the mistakes he once made.
Analyzes how mary shelley was pregnant during the construction of the novel, so a qualitative answer to this question would prove intriguing.
Cites bloom, harold, butler, marilyn, gilbert, sandra, and susan gubar. "mary shelley's monstrous eve."
Explains that shelley's frankenstein was reprinted in norton critical edition.
Frankenstein has been interested in natural science since childhood and has described himself to “always have been imbued with a fervent longing to penetrate the secrets of nature”(Shelley 25), which foreshadows his future aspiration to create life, and
In this essay, the author
Analyzes how mary shelley's novel, frankenstein, highlights the experiences her characters undergo through the internal war of passion and responsibility.
Explains that frankenstein has been interested in natural science since childhood, which foreshadows his future aspiration to create life, and it continued through his life to when he goes to university.
Analyzes how frankenstein, in his tunnel visioned state to create life, animates the monster without realizing the consequences of his actions. he flees and does not really question where it went upon his return.
Analyzes how frankenstein doesn't acknowledge his responsibility for the monster's actions when he sees it again in two years. he is responsible for its existence but does not consider himself a factor when it comes to the deaths of william and justine.
Analyzes how frankenstein showed compassion for the monster and agreed to it’s desire for a mate. now that he has learned the full story of his creation, frank feels the need to take responsibility for it.
Analyzes how frankenstein decided not to make the monster it's other half. he took the whole of humanity into consideration and thought it would be better to have one monster wreaking havoc upon the world than two.
Analyzes how frankenstein takes one hundred percent of the responsibility of his creation when clerval is murdered.
Analyzes how frankenstein has matured through the novel as he accepts the error of his ways but wants to make sure that no one will make the same mistake.
Analyzes how mary shelley uses victor frankenstein to symbolize the common conflict between passion and responsibility.
Frankenstein and the Advancement of Science
Science is nothing more than facts and principles that have been accepted on the basis of the knowledge gained by a systematic study. The scientific process is the common, basic pathway to this discovery of knowledge. The good or evil implications resulting from knowledge is not the primary concern of the scientist, though these implications can have a powerful impact. Mary Shelley's Frankenstein shows how the discovery of knowledge can have earth-shattering repercussions when a scientist does not consider the consequences of his actions.
In this essay, the author
Analyzes how mary shelley's frankenstein shows how the discovery of knowledge can have earth-shattering repercussions when a scientist does not consider the consequences of his actions.
Explains that victor frankenstein followed the same path as elementary school kids today: observation, hypothesis, experimentation, and conclusion.
Analyzes how the frankenstein monster is a result of the irresponsibility in the use of science and science itself.
Analyzes how the science created a wholly evil creature, but it was thwarted by humanity's fear of difference. the monster did not have the ingrained sense of conscience that was instilled through religion or society.
Argues that the story of victor frankenstein shows the irresponsibility that is all too present in the advancement of science and emphasizes the caution which humanity must employ when it attempts to master its environment or itself.
Analyzes butler, marylin, "the first frankenstein and radical science." the times literary supplement 9 apr. 1993: 12-14.
Describes garber, frederick, and huysmans' autonomy of the self.
Mary Shelley’s Sci-Fi horror known as Frankenstein or The Modern Prometheus has become a classic novel in history. This dark tale touches on every subject of humanity. One of Shelley’s biggest themes is a big question in the science world we live in, nearly 200 years after publication of the book. That question being can science go too far, is there a line that shouldn’t be crossed? Shelley uses the plot of her story to serve as a warning to readers to be careful when dealing with this imaginary line. Shelley’s tale of a mad scientist and the repercussions he suffers from his experiment is a timeless story. As technology is being pushed to the brink of morality in the modern day, this question has become a huge part of the modern world of science we are living in.
In this essay, the author
Analyzes how shelley is toying with the idea of science going too far. she uses the character of robert walton as a warning to the reader.
Opines that mary shelley's novel is a warning that science is all fun and games until it gets in the wrong hands.
Analyzes how shelley reminds us that breakthroughs in science can also be a positive thing. she longs to have the power to bring back the dead, to save her loved ones through the use of science.
Concludes that mary shelley's frankenstein is a timeless classic that will be read and cherished for years to come.
Analyzes how mary shelley's sci-fi horror, the modern prometheus, touches on every subject of humanity. she uses the plot to serve as a warning to readers to be careful when dealing with this imaginary line.
Analyzes how victor frankenstein's character can be interpreted as the villain in the novel. his actions are narcissistic and he makes it very clear the only person who is really concerned with is himself.
Shelley's Frankenstein and Rifkin's Biotech Century
Human beings are created by God, who intends that they reproduce and flourish amongst themselves. However, with the accomplishments of science, ideas that were thought to be impossible are becoming possible inside experiment labs; for example, scientists have found a way of creating life without requiring sexual reproduction. Further more, scientists are now experimenting with cloning other living things. Jeremy Rifkin explains in "Biotech Century [ . . .]
In this essay, the author
Analyzes the similarities between shelley's frankenstein and rifkin’s biotech century. both emphasize similar concerns, but differ in certain aspects.
Compares rifkin and shelley's view of science as a positive contribution to society, involving huge amounts of money, and believes that scientists can continue to use science for positive ways, such as for curing illnesses.
Analyzes how shelley believes that humans are god's creatures put on earth to live in harmony along side with nature. she uses a fictional character, frankenstein, who is so caught up in creating life that he is ready to do everything in an attempt to accomplish his goal.
Opines that rifkin shares shelley's concern about human attempts to master and effectively change the natural world.
Opines that the reseeding of the earth with a laboratory-conceived second genesis (biotech century) could lead to 'a far different future'
Explains that scientists are now allowing people to "design" their children by removing or keeping certain traits they want to have. this manipulation of science is helping scientists assume the role of playing god in rifkin's "a second genesis."
Opines that rifkin and shelley's writings are similar in relation to the new development of a biotech century.
Explains that rifkin's concern in "biotech century" can be seen in recent experimentation on dolly, whose dna was removed and then manipulated in a laboratory.
Explains rifkin and shelley's concern about who is responsible when an experiment goes wrong. scientists are now trying to determine whether nature or science is to blame.
Argues that shelley and rifkin agree that scientists must take blame for errors in their experiments, for they are manipulating science in attempts to take over the role of god.
Concludes that science is a branch of study intended to help scientists discover new ways of helping people. shelley and rifkin warn scientists to take responsibility for any harm caused by their actions.
Cites "cloned sheep dolly" and frankenstein by mary shelley. a play by nick dimartino.
To begin our analysis, I will look to how Mary Shelley positions Victor Frankenstein's motivations to create life against natural laws within the ideas of individualism, as Victor can correlate directly to the educated human at the center of Enlightenment, Industrialism, and Romanticism values. With the burgeoning interest in scientific discovery during the Industrial Revolution "transform[ing] British culture" and "changing the world"(Lipking 2065), many concepts of society were also changed, which Shelley looked to explore through Victor's actions. Rooted in the scientifically curious spirit of Industrial England, Victor's attempt to create life can show many examples of how an importance of the individual acquisition of knowledge and accomplishment can disrupt society. Victor's...
In this essay, the author
Analyzes robert anderson's essay, "misery made me a fiend," which argues that victor abandons the rules of nature and society to create beings that are created with idealized forms of reproduction and death.
Analyzes how social reproduction is corrupted by victor's rejection of his creation, his abandonment of its ill countenance and image, instead of what it was created for, an "improved" human.
Analyzes how victor's isolation represents the societal change shelley explores from both industrial and romanticism fueled individualism. both correlate forms of power to isolation or separation, something we find throughout frankenstein.
Analyzes how mary shelley's frankenstein criticizes the impacts of industrial revolution and romantic era-inspired individualism on the community and individual.
Analyzes how mary shelley's theistic investigation of scientific materialism and transgressive autonomy in frankenstein and robert owens' early writings influenced their writings.
Science fiction is a genre that usually takes place in an imaginative but almost real seeming world where there is more that likely a picture of the future being painted. In this picture you will usually see robots, space ships, aliens, or even different worlds way beyond the place we call Earth. Other characteristics of science fiction are post- apocalyptic societies and environmental catastrophes (Edwards). You may wonder where the term “science fiction” came from. It wasn’t until the 1920’s when an american publisher named Hugo Gernsback invented the term (sterling).
In this essay, the author
Explains that science fiction takes place in an imaginative but almost real seeming world where there is more that likely a picture of the future being painted.
Explains how technology plays a huge role in science fiction, and how the introduction of cosmology and the invention of light bulbs and automobiles pushed the genre.
Analyzes how somnium is the first science fiction story, beating jules verne by more than two centuries. the writer travels to the moon and learns about the hemispheres from an alien.
Explains that 18th century science fiction began with johnathan swift's gulliver’s travels, which uses an extended parody of experimental science and a terrifying super weapon.
Explains that science fiction emerged in the late 18th and early 19th centuries during the industrial revolution, when writers and intellectuals began to extrapolate the future impact of technology.
Analyzes how mary shelly started off 19th century science fiction with a bang when she wrote frankenstein.
Explains that jules verne is responsible for many novels of the 19th century, including his most popular science fiction novel twenty thousand leagues under the sea.
Explains that h.g. wells' most popular science fiction novel is war of the worlds, where mankind is put in danger by strange beings from mars.
Explains that the 20th century is known today as the golden age of science fiction, which valorizes linear narratives, heroes solving problems in a space-opera, or technological adventure idioms.
Quotes adam roberts as saying that isaac asimou is the 20th century's most famous sf writer. his robots were equipped with positronic brains and governed the three laws of robotics.
Explains that yevgeny zamyatin's novel we is set in a dystopian society where people are numbered and live in glass homes which allow their every move to be monitored by the state.
Explains that comics were introduced in the 20th century. super heroes were converted to their superhuman ways due to a scientific discovery or technological malfunction. captain america, the flash and the green lantern are sf-oriented.
Explains that science fiction became less of a ‘literature of ideas’ in the 20th century. star wars, et, the terminator, and alien were made thanks to science fiction literature.
Explains that science fiction has provided a vision of the future, entertainment for the family, and helped guide us towards inventions that are now very important in today’s society.
Explains that science fiction started from the very bottom at the first idea of things being beyond earth and after many years new inventions inspired many new things such as time travel and robots.