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Category: 04. 9/26 Frankenstein (Page 2 of 2)

Science and Religion

Doctor Frankenstein had a vision to do something that was deemed impossible, bring his wife back from the dead. Of course what he created was not someone who he would have Sunday brunch with, rather, he created the world’s most hideous creature, Frankenstein! This is not the first time that a piece of literature has told a tale of resurrecting someone–or something from the dead. We have read about Jesus bringing back Lazarus in the Bible, and of course Jesus himself coming back to life. Although the Bible and Frankenstein are ultimately achieving the same goal–bringing someone back, the way they go about it is entirely different. One is through the use of science while the other is simply an “act of a God” or a miracle with no scientific reasoning or proof to back it up. This deviation of methods backpacks of off our last blog topic where we talked about the separation of the Church and science. The Bible may be a sacred book with stories that teach great morals, but ultimately most of these passages were just stories–not fact. Of course Frankenstein is fictional as well, but it is important that the process of resurrecting is based off of scientific discoveries and not faith. Continue reading

Frankenstein: The Pursuit of Knowledge and Nature’s Remedy

Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein combines the fundamentals of Romanticism and the dangers of innovation. Published in 1823, the novel tells the story of Victor Frankenstein, a scientist motivated by progress, and his pursuit for human creation. As his creation comes to life, the monster epitomizes the wrongness in his life; moreover, the solutions to his problems lie within the sublimeness of nature.

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Themes of Frankenstein

Many themes presented in Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein were applicable to the present time period of 1818, yet a majority of the themes are relevant in today’s world. The most apparent theme in the beginning of the text was Victor’s appreciation for the natural beauty he encountered on his journey. Traveling through icy mountains, struggling to escape the past that eludes him, he expresses how the seasons and characteristics of nature were able to aid him: “The present season was indeed divine; the flowers of spring bloomed…those of summer were already in bud: I was undisturbed by thoughts which during the preceding year had pressed upon me…with an invincible burden” (53). Victor, who had endured numerous struggles throughout the novel, was always appeased by the beauty of the natural world. Victor was different because he understood the nature world for what it was entirely. He saw the perils and dangers of hell that nature can bestow, yet he was able to overcome nature’s misery and be restored by its’ elements. Victor made this apparent when he stated, “my health and spirits had long been restored, and they gained additional strength from the salubrious air I breathed” (53). The effects the elements had on Victor were obvious; the sublime world was one Victor could appreciate. The theme is presently numerously throughout Shelley’s text along with many other themes that can be connected with the ideals of today’s world.

Science and technology allow us to understand and appreciate the sublime world far more than it ever did in 1818. Because of science and technology, the possibilities are endless. We can see stars exploded millions of miles away in the universe. We can see into the depths of the undiscovered ocean floor and witness what magnificent events of nature take place in pure darkness. We can travel anywhere in the world to see breathtaking beauty which would not be possible if it were not for the technological and scientific advancements we have made. Victors traveling, I believe, represented this idea to a limited extent. In 1818, the idea of traveling into the mountains of unchartered territory with no one but yourself would be pushing the limits of what science and technology had achieved up until that point. Victors travels led discoveries both physically and mentally that many people long to discover in today’s world. People ache for a sense of purpose and longing in this world; uncover the beauty of nature did that for Victor to an extent. Science and technology in today’s world allow for exploration and new discoveries to be made everyday. Because of science and technology, we can experience the thrills felt by Victor with just the push of a button, or least, do our best to try.

Frankenstein’s Message

The main message that Frankenstein conveys is the danger in the pursuit of knowledge and advancement in Science and Technology.  In the novel we see Victor try to push forward the limits of science by creating a creature from old body parts. The creation of the creature backfired on Victor once the monster escaped. Victor’s life became obsessed with the monster because he could not control his creation. In the end, Victor lost everything from his pursuit to push science and limit of human knowledge.

Frankenstein shows the issue that can come from technological and scientific advancement. It can be too much for human’s to control causing a spiral downward. I think that this book shows how important it is to understand the advancement of Science and Technology. A huge part of the novel is the fact that Victor is not able to adapt to his creation. He did not take care of the monster or provide him with a partner. He brought the monster to life, but in the end, victor could not control his creation.

I think this underlying message of not being prepared for a creation is extremely relevant to today’s society. As artificial intelligence is continually expanding every day, it is important to understand the ramifications of discovery. In social culture, we see shows like Black Mirror that capture the negative effects technological advancements can have on humans. Technology has the power to bring out human traits that are not positive. If we let technology take over our lives then we will lose our human elements. We must constantly stay aware of the implications technological advancement has on society. As the world continues to evolve in advancement there must be knowledge of how to adapt. That said, we must welcome advancements in science and technology. If we do not then there will be a negative effect on society as we saw with Victor.

A Lesson From Frankenstein

One message conveyed by Frankenstein is the danger that lies with considering the negative consequences of science and technology after-the-fact, instead of before. More generally speaking, when people neglect to consider the potential negative impacts of their actions, it is a form of willful ignorance. On the other hand, being risk-averse is tricky because predicting the future with complete accuracy is impossible. Although Frankenstein was written in 1818, the unintended effects of science and technology still plague society today.

In chapter three, a chemistry professor M. Waldman encourages Victor to pursue a broad education, which inspires Victor to gain knowledge on the secret of life and eventually create Frankenstein. I see a parallel in the often well-intended interests of people in scientific fields and the encouraging relationship between M. Waldman and Victor. Google started as a project by two PhD students with the goal of analyzing the relationships among websites.1 Yet, Google’s use of user’s privacy data in the last decade has lead to controversy about its “freemium” model.2 In order for Google to adequately fund its business operations, many critics have asked if it is moral to sell customers’ private data. It is a difficult question to answer because on the other hand, Google provides a host of free services that many educational institutions and their students benefit from. Much like Victor’s creation of Frankenstein, Larry Page and Sergey Brin’s creation of Google has sparked many issues regarding the ethics behind their technology. It is unlikely that Victor and the creators of Google could accurately predict the long-term impacts of their creation. However, some level of risk estimation is not impossible; Victor could have considered what to do if Frankenstein misbehaved and the creators of Google could have considered other ways to become a profitable business without data infringement.

“Seek happiness in tranquility and avoid ambition, even if it be only the apparently innocent one of distinguishing yourself in science and discoveries.”3

The novel also address the shortfalls of creating Frankenstein and in a broader sense, the negative impacts of science and technology in a cynical and destructive manner. In the above quote, Robert Walton recounts Victor’s warning on the dangers on ambition by “[seeking] happiness in tranquility”. In the context of the novel, this disposition is sympathetic to Victor’s character and his experiences creating Frankenstein. However, when placed in the context of modern science, this disposition will lead to laziness and further destruction. This quote sheds light on the cynical side of humans in face of immense scientific and technological discoveries. Many people today are like Victor and feel overwhelmed and defeated by the consequences of science. With global warming, for example, our society is divided on how to deal with high greenhouse emissions. Some people are indifferent and are not proactive about lowering their carbon footprint. As a result, these people are living in “tranquility” and following the negligent advice of Victor.

“From The Garage To The Googleplex,” Google, accessed September 24, 2018.  https://www.google.com/about/our-story/

Freemium is any product that provides a service for free while additional services can be purchased for money.

3 Shelley, Mary. Frankenstein. London: Lackington, Hughes, Harding, Mavor, & Jones, 1818.

The Pursuit of Dangerous Knowledge

The desire to discover the unknown can sometimes lead to one’s own demise, as is the case in Frankenstein, by Mary Shelley. Human beings have an innate curiosity to uncover any hidden truths within our universe, however sometimes those quests to reveal the unrevealed result in unwanted outcomes. Victor Frankenstein, in his pursuit of the secret of life, created a living monstrosity that he believed to be the answer to the knowledge he had long been seeking. Although, upon immediate sight of his creation and the havoc it would make, his actions proved detrimental.

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