June 17, 2024

Themes and Ethical Issues in Frankenstein

The book Frankenstein or also known as The Modern Prometheus was the first science fiction novel. The novel is given this subtitle as the character Victor Frankenstein parallels the myth of Prometheus. Prometheus in the myth disobeys the laws of nature which causes him to bring misery upon himself and others. Victor Frankenstein does the same thing by creating his monster and allowing it to roam free. This act done by Frankenstein brings up many questions about ethics surrounding science. This along with messages portrayed by the parallel between the author Mary Shelley and Frankenstein’s monster bring about messages surrounding ethics and abandonment.

Mary Shelley was born in 1797 to and grew up with her philosopher father. Shelley eventually began to have a relationship with the married Percy Shelley, one of her father’s friends, who she eventually married. When Percy Shelley left his wife for Mary, she committed suicide, leaving a sense of guilt upon Mary. This sense of abandonment and what it caused is a major theme in the book. For Mary to not be abandoned, someone else had to. This person, Percy’s first wife, ended up killing herself because of this. This is reflected in Frankenstein as Victor Frankenstein, like Percy, abandons his monster. Every time Frankenstein abandons his monster someone he loves dies. This is a reflection of the guilt Mary feels as she was the cause of someone being abandoned who then died. The themes of abandonment and guilt are prevalent in the novel as a reflection of Mary Shelley’s life.

Along with themes that are reflections of the authors life, the novel also brings up questions regarding the ethics in science. One of these questions is whether Victor is a good person and a good scientist. I believe Victor Frankenstein was not a good person as creating the monster was for selfish reasons. Also after doing so he abandoned the monster. The book makes it seem as though if he did not abandon the monster and had someone to accept him the monster would not be bad. Although the question about whether he was a good scientist is different. He did do something extraordinary in which he created life, but the ethical question comes about whether it was right for him to do so. Another question raised by this book, relating to the prior one was just because you can do something, should you? Science is about research and experimentation but there should be a line not to be crossed. Creating this monster caused many to perish. Although for science to progress experimentation needs to be done there should be subjects left alone, such as the creation of life. This topic is still explored today through movies such as Jurassic Park in which the creation of life done by disobeying the laws of nature creates misery among others.

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