Essay about Ethical Uncertainties of Science in Frankestein by Mary Shelley

Essay about Ethical Uncertainties of Science in Frankestein by Mary Shelley

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In Frankenstein, Mary Shelley tests the motives and ethical uncertainties of the science in her time period. This is a consideration that has become more and more pertinent to our time, when we see modern scientists are venturing into what were previously unimaginable territories of science and nature, through the use of things like human cloning and genetic engineering. Through careful assessment, we can see how the novel illustrates both the potential dangers of these scientific advancements and the conflict between that and creationism.
Prior to the publishing of Frankenstein, Shelley had become interested in the advancements in science and theories about the future of science. In the introduction to the novel M.K. Joseph states that "Shelley wrote in the infancy of modern science, when its enormous possibilities were just beginning to be seen" (Shelley, xii). Considering Shelley was a Romantic, developments of the post-Enlightenment, such as experiments with electricity (galvanism), and other up and coming concepts of evolution were of great concern to her. The latest of scientific studies of their time offered Shelley, her husband and those they associated with, plenty of topics for discussion: "Many and long were the conversations between Byron and 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.
It is apparent that in her story Mary Shelley chose to convey a symbolic meaning concerning the scientific pursuits of her era, but the question remains: what was her intended message? In her 1818 preface, Shelley writes, "I have thus endeavored to p...


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...py and excellent natures would owe their being to me" (Shelley, 54). This verifies both his lust for greatness and the power of his ego. In a document of literary critism, scholar Lunsford argues that it was surely Frankenstein’s “quest for social standing that leads to his downfall” (Lunsford).
Lastly, Shelley suggests a powerful and dangerous objective of science: the quest for immortality. "I thought," he explains, "that if I could bestow animation upon lifeless matter, I might in process of time . . . renew life where death had apparently devoted the body to corruption." While Shelley's ideas are conveyed through Frankenstein's words and actions, Kass' observation is more blatant: "Indeed, prolongation of healthy and vigorous life-and, ultimately, a victory over mortality-is perhaps the central goal and meaning of the modern scientific project" (Kass, 300).



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