At first glance, Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein appears to be a thrilling sci-fi novel about the creation of a monster that reaches far beyond human limits. But within the depths of this creation, Shelley conveys a meaningful message about the extent to which knowledge is both powerful and dangerous.

Throughout the novel, Victor presents the monster as a dangerous, evil and immoral character. He blames his wrongdoing on the fact that scientific knowledge itself is dangerous and has many dire consequences. However, the creature’s recollection of the story presents a starkly different perspective in which the monster’s evil nature is not derived from knowledge itself but rather through human society’s abuse of this knowledge. The monster initially has good intentions. For instance, he sees a girl slipping into the stream and believes it is his duty to rescue and protect the girl. However, the man perceives the monster as evil because of his physical appearance, and subsequently proceeds to fire a gun at him. It is this mistreatment of the monster that ultimately causes him to change character into a vicious and resentful creature. The pain and fury inflicted by society’s injustice and unfair treatment towards the monster ultimately corrupts his character and fuels his desire for revenge. The monster reflects on this desire following the incident, “My daily vows rose for revenge – a deep and deadly revenge, such as would alone compensate for the outrages and anguish I had endured” (143). Thus, the monster’s switch in attitude and character is a direct result of the abuse he faced from those around him.

Shelley uses the monster as a metaphor for knowledge to convey the idea that science and knowledge are morally neutral and have a predisposition for good until they are corrupted and abused by human society. Through the perspective of the monster, Shelley conveys that the danger was not in the creation of the monster itself, but rather the intentions and selfishness with which the monster was made. This message is becoming increasingly important in today’s world, where scientific and technological innovations have reached new frontiers. The creation of artificial intelligence, advances in GMO technology and innovations in genetic sequencing, for instance, have far-reaching consequences that are easy to overlook in the midst of the excitement and eagerness to reach new limits. This excitement can cause us to unconsciously push boundaries and abuse our knowledge out of selfishness or greed, ultimately losing sight of how our creations will contribute to the enhancement and improvement of the world around us. Thus, Shelley’s story serves as a reminder to create with purpose, and to consider the long-term implications of our creations – a lesson that is becoming increasingly important in this day and age.

SOURCES

Shelley, Mary Wollstonecraft, 1797-1851. Frankenstein, Or, The Modern Prometheus : the 1818 Text. Oxford ; New York :Oxford University Press, 1998. Print.