Premium Essay

Scientific Morality in Frankenstein

In: English and Literature

Submitted By dwang08
Words 1255
Pages 6
Scientific Morality in Frankenstein

Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein is a late nineteenth century novel about a scientist named Victor Frankenstein who creates a living person from dead body parts and gives it life through the power of magic and alchemy. It serves as a cautionary tale that sheds light on the ethical boundaries of scientific experimentation and the potential consequences of ignoring those boundaries for the sake of knowledge alone. Although science is not inherently good or evil, it can be used as a tool for both in the hands of imperfect humans. Victor Frankenstein betrays the scientific code of ethics when he creates a man that society can never accept. Victor, as a scientist, follows the very same path which elementary school children follow today when learning the scientific method; observation, hypothesis, experimentation, and conclusion. Victor Frankenstein observes the power of nature through the destructive force of lightning. He sees the potential of such energies and develops a hypothesis based on his studies of Agrippa and Magnus (German scholars and philosophers), who he looks to as mentors. His hypothesis is that through the power of nature, he can reanimate organic tissue with the use of alchemy which his chosen mentors have claimed to achieve. Victor Frankenstein’s experimentation requires a form, which leads him to the charnel houses to claim tissue from the deceased. His hypothesis proves true, and a monster is born.
Throughout the process of his experimentation, Frankenstein has multiple opportunities to stop and contemplate the possible outcome of his experiment and its effect on humanity, but he does not do so. He follows the scientific process to the letter, without trepidation as to his actions. The question of morality is ignored due to its irrelevance to the pursuit of objective knowledge. Victor Frankenstein’s monster

Similar Documents

Free Essay

Frankenstein

...Nine English AEP Frankenstein/Science Fiction Essay (Reading and Writing Task) Topic: Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein is the Science Fiction text that allowed all other examples of the sub-genre to follow. Discuss this proposition with specific reference to the Drama Script and Film versions of the novel, along with any other relevant Science Fiction texts you have read or viewed. * Your essay should especially consider Shelley’s context and that of other writers you refer to, as well as your own context as a reader. * You should make specific reference to the texts you are discussing via both direct (quotations) and indirect (explanations) evidence. * Be sure to plan your response so that each paragraph has its own unified idea. A sample paragraph structure might look like the following: 1. Introduction – Thesis: e.g.: “Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein is the first text which uses scientific experimentation as the basis of its plot. In doing this, it paved the way for all Science Fiction which followed…” 2. Body P1 – Author context + sub-genre features – what changes have occurred over time as a result of context? Consider Mary Shelley, H.G. Wells, Ray Bradbury 3. Body P2 – Discussion of Frankenstein 4. Body P3 – Discussion of other text e.g.: War of the Worlds (make some reference to Frankenstein as well) 5. Body P4 - Discussion of other text e.g.: There Will Come Soft Rains (make some reference to Frankenstein as well) 6. Body...

Words: 1268 - Pages: 6

Premium Essay

Frankenstein- Marginalisation of Women

...Frankenstein  Science AO2 Unrestrained scientific desire: ‘they penetrate into the recesses of nature and show how she works in her hiding places’ • ‘they ascend into the heavens’ ‘new and almost unlimited powers’ ‘penetrate’ ‘command’ ‘mimic’ • ‘with fervour’ • ‘performed miracles’ • ‘unfold to the world the deepest mysteries of creation’ • ‘secret’ ‘hidden laws’ • How dangerous is the acquirement of knowledge’ Power: ‘as if my soul were grappling with a powerful enemy’ • ‘like a hurricane’ ‘pour a torrent of light’ • ‘pursued’ ‘unremitting ardour’ ‘clung’ ‘dedicated myself’ ‘secret toil’ ‘tremble’ ‘tortured’ • ‘one pursuit’ • ‘tread a land never before imprinted by the foot of man’ • ‘I preferred glory’ • ‘until from the midst of this darkness a sudden light broke in upon me- a light so brilliant and wondrous’ Lack of Morality: Transgression against God he mocks the power of the creator ‘torrents of light’ ‘a new species would bless me as its creator and source’ ‘many happy and excellent natures would owe their being to me’ • ‘eyes insensible to the charms of nature’ • ‘Labours’ scientist in being able to mimic and usurp traditional creation methods;  existence of an immortal soul? • Responsibility for creation image reinforced ‘inarticulate sounds’ Pursuit: ‘deeply smitten with the thirst for knowledge’ • ‘Pursuit for discovery and wonder’ attracted to the tree of knowledge ‘eternal light’  back to biblical times, tree of knowledge...

Words: 2241 - Pages: 9

Premium Essay

Text in Time - Frankenstein and Blade Runner

...though your comparative stuffy of Frankenstein and Blade Runner? By juxtaposing texts, their paradigmatic undercurrents emerge, with timeless scientific and ontological concerns transcending contextual discrepancies. Shelley’s 1818 gothic novel, Frankenstein, written in response to the Industrial Revolution, and its prospering advancements, values the moderation of scientific endeavour connected to the enlightenment. Similarly Scott’s neo-noire film, Blade Runner is in response to the impact of his 20th century, consumer driven society on mans ethical framework, condemning progression of technology through his depiction of a dystopian future. Ultimately Frankenstein and Blade Runner are cautionary tales when explored individually, however when examined comparatively, values presented in each become more comprehensive for both contexts and enduring audiences. Shelley’s retrospective depiction of a milieu exploited by scientific egotism embodied by Frankenstein highlights the disruption of nature, and criticizes the 18th century enlightenment in relation to Frankenstein’s galvanistic approach to knowledge. The Declaration in the text “I will pioneer a new way, to explore unknown powers,” underscores victor’s ambition for knowledge, his egotistical desire to control nature and his unwavering conviction regardless of consequence. Furthermore the myriad of classical allusions, to paradise lost, concerned with “mans first disobedience.” Frankenstein, a man driven by insatiable desire...

Words: 847 - Pages: 4

Free Essay

Relationship Between Science and Nature Is an Important and Universal Concern

...Both Frankenstein and Blade Runner deal with issues of science and nature, and their implications upon their respective societies. Through their contextual basis, we understand the relationship between the two, and the concerns that arise by its exploration. Their confrontation is didactic, through their warnings of things to come; the texts voice these issues as of universal concern. Singularly, both texts confront the origin of creation. This corruption of nature, of faith is possibly the greatest crime, as stated by Shelley in her introduction to the 1831 edition of Frankenstein; “those who endeavour to mock the mechanism of the creator” will suffer grave consequences. This concept is a main idea of the novel, and the graphic consequences of Victor’s hubris are evident. The monster he creates is eloquent and rational, but corrupted by his lack of compassion is ravages his friends and family. This shirking of responsibility is most evident in the creature’s biblical allusion, “I ought to be thy Adam but I am rather thy fallen angel.” By referencing Lucifer, the creature has isolated the source of his violence, the irresponsibility of his creator. This relationship between creator and creation is mirrored in Blade Runner during the meeting between Tyrell and Roy. The awkward detachment of Roy from his masterpiece is shown through formal, scientific language and biblical allusions are also used, “nothing the god of biomechanics wouldn’t let you into heaven for.” This statement...

Words: 708 - Pages: 3

Free Essay

Nice Work

...behavior which became known as "Victorianism". During this period, textbooks and games were based on religion and morality. It was believed that if religion be accepted by all, that morality would become the "end all" to crime and poverty. While advancements in science and technology became the order of the day, religion began a down-hill slide. Its theory/belief remained strong until the middle of the century, when in 1859, Charles Darwin published his Evolution of the Species theory. Many, including the clergy, began to question the beliefs of the church. Evangelical influences and the Oxford Movement did produce a surge of spirituality which helped to rebuild the Anglican and Roman Catholic Churches. But toward the latter part of the century, most began to see religion as meaning little more than respectability. It did, however, remain the inspiration of writers, architects, painters and the social reformers of the period. England under the reign of Victoria (1837-1901) was undisputedly Christian; very few families would have chosen not to visit church on Sundays, and Christians dominated public life. The period of Queen Victoria's reign was, however, a period of change. Over its 64-year span, life changed rapidly: industrialisation took hold and brought the development of the railway, thus widening people's horizons by effectively shrinking England. Scientific thinkers began to contemplate evolutionary theories and to question their implications and compatibility with...

Words: 874 - Pages: 4

Premium Essay

Frankenstein

...author, Frankenstein, or, The Modern Prometheus has inspired numerous adaptations, remakes and parodies across different literary genres. Reprinted again in 1831, this time with an introduction written by Mary Shelley acknowledging her authorship, Frankenstein through its discrediting of science and the omnipotence of nature, confirms ands challenges our own habitual understandings of the world around us. The habitual understanding I will be focusing on is western hegemonic rationalism and the dominance of science as the ruler and explainer of my universe in comparison to the earlier more romantic ideology of Shelley’s time. Frankenstein also carries a warning about ambition. In a society that believes ambition to be a good thing, Shelley attempts to revel catastrophic consequences for humans over come with the quest for glory and science’s obsessive and overly ambitious nature. Western hegemonic ideal is the cultural identity that has conditioned me, becoming habitual, normal and routine. However, Shelley was privileged as she was writing at the beginning of the scientific enlightenment era, and could therefore identify what would be lost if science and technology were to usurp the position of God, nature and fate. Art, emotions, passion, suffering, humility etc were to be restricted into liminal spaces, creating a world not unlike Aldous Huxley’s A Brave New World. Romantic philosophies have been endorsed in Frankenstein through the downfall of Victor due to scientific endeavour...

Words: 2067 - Pages: 9

Premium Essay

Technology In Frankenstein

...compelling to so many. The story itself is something from the darker side of the mind, playing into just how terrible a human is capable of being without the restraint of ethics, morals or true human compassion. The monster epitomizes the darkest sides of our nature in his simple lack of morality or concern for human life. Perhaps Frankenstein has remained so popular for the many pieces of human nature that it shows...

Words: 1476 - Pages: 6

Premium Essay

Blade Runner and Frankenstein Essay

...question… Why have we ignored the warnings? Two texts that have presented us with warnings are both Frankenstein and Blade Runner, concerns of their times in both Mary Shelly’s ‘Frankenstein’’ and Ridely scotts blade runner warned us of the consequences of overstepping our boundaries of man kinds moral code and the effect of technology advancement and lack of moral and virtuous conduct that is expected to human kind. These texts are critical of scientists who choose not to question the morality of their research and discoveries or to even consider the damaging consequences of humanity that may follow. Both texts even thought they are set in different times, explore similar themes concerning the disruption of natural order to create artificial life and show how both authors warn us many of the paths followed by over-reaching scientists irresponsible at best and evil at worst. Both texts give us warning to what the future may hold if science continues to strip away man kinds moral code. The time frame in which Frankenstein written was full of great changes and extraordinary discoveries such as electricity and the French revolution, which had bloody consequences which demonstrated how volatile the era was and how social order was being challenged. England was in a societal transformation. These are therefore reflected in Frankenstein such as the electrical experiment on Frankenstein, which was a warning against the expansion of modern humans. In contrast Blade runner was set...

Words: 566 - Pages: 3

Premium Essay

Frankenstein Essay

...Shelley’s gothic novel Frankenstein and Scott’s film Blade Runner explore similar issues in vastly different contexts. They present the same issues; governed by the same values and perspectives. Both explore a dilemma that continues to be significant in the 21st century: the ethical and moral tension between the fear of humanity’s abuse of technology and the incredible potential for technology to extend life and even defy death. Shelley and Scott have crafted texts that portray individuals who challenged the established values of their time by considering the consequences to individuals who use technology to create life. These texts both emphasise the negative effect of progress on humanity and the natural environment through the use of language and visual forms and features. In Shelley’s novel, the exciting potential of technology that was becoming apparent in the nineteenth century had fascinated the young scientist Frankenstein. Desiring to challenge morality, he uses his new-found knowledge to fashion a creature out of human body parts who has great strength, but whose appearance is so monstrous that Frankenstein flees his laboratory in terror. The persona of Victor depicts humanities further obsession and greed for knowledge and power as he isolates himself from society. He marvels ‘It was the secrets of heaven and earth that I desire to learn’ uses of the juxtaposition of heaven and earth shows Victor’s understanding of the implication of his actions. Shelley uses the...

Words: 937 - Pages: 4

Premium Essay

Playing God In Mary Shelley's Frankenstein

...one must undertake deliberate actions to create life or affect the human race in a significant manner that many would consider ethically unacceptable. Today’s medical breakthroughs see unnecessary scrutiny due to the misinformed notion that the creation of life through unnatural means is an act of man playing God. This theme of creating life from other pieces is clearly shown in the novel “Frankenstein” by Mary Shelley. Also, as seen in cloning, there needs to be a base from another animal or creature. In other words, a scientist cannot make a human or other...

Words: 1185 - Pages: 5

Free Essay

Frankenstein and Blade Runner

...Frankenstein/Bladerunner In Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein (1818) and Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner (1982) humanity’s manipulation of nature paradoxically erodes the human spirit and compromises integrity. Although contextually disparate, both texts explore a creator’s need to take responsibility for his creation, cautioning responders of the dangers of unrestrained scientific progress and conveying humanity’s severed relationship with nature. Where Shelley communicates with a certain ambiguity characteristic of the contradictory Age of Reason and sets her tale against a backdrop of a sublime natural world, Scott portrays a society fuelled by ecological destruction and 1980s corporate abuse. This reflects each composer’s anchoring of their visions in the socio-cultural realities of their time; a fundamental transgression of human values over time. Both texts explore the dangers of uninhibited scientific progress. In Frankenstein, Shelley fashions a gothic world where nature is tampered with and a ‘hurricane of enthusiasm’ drives the protagonist towards abandoning his conscience, prompting Shelley’s valuing of moderation. Underpinned by the Industrial Revolution and an era of scientific change, Victor embodies the obsessive passions and Romantic ego-identities of 19th century scientists. The epistolatory narrative framework adds a disquieting sense of truth to Victor’s retrospective dialogue, “how dangerous is the acquirement of knowledge,” reflecting his Promethean disobedience...

Words: 1263 - Pages: 6

Premium Essay

Mary Shelley's Frankenstein

...Mary Shelly’s “Frankenstein” Essay Introduction: Mary Shelly’s “Frankenstein” has is more than just an ordinary novel. It is a book that carries a profound philosophical message. The novel touched me to my very soul. It turned out to be a book not about a struggle against a monster but a tragedy of a scientist, who reached the goal of his work and life and realized that breathless horror and disgust filled his heart but all of these is on the surface. The deepest philosophical thought is covered and hidden, but is very deep. The author tries to say that life is a gift. After this gift is given no one can take it away and it becomes the responsibility of the creator. The novel makes the reader concerned with the question: “Is a human being able to take responsibility to give life?”. “Frankenstein’s” philosophy is a conflict between the value of human life and the value of a scientific discovery. This story is not only the tragedy of Victor Frankenstein but also of his creation. It is the tragedy of loneliness and fighting alone with the world.The tragedy of Viktor Frankenstein was a tragedy of him being a toy in the hand of his own parents for the believed that he “was in their hands to direct to happiness or misery”[p.34]. The next quote shows exactly how he grew up: “they were not the tyrants to rule our lot according to their caprice, but the agents and creators of all the many delights which we enjoyed…”[p.37]. This subconsciously led him to the desire to have somebody...

Words: 1056 - Pages: 5

Free Essay

Splice

...called into question, in nearly all of these films the character the audience perceives to be most human is victorious in the end. Cameron’s Avatar, for instance, sees the protagonist Jake Sully (Sam Worthington) remain on the alien world of Pandora in the body of an alien. Although not innately human in form, it is Jake’s preserved sense of morality and his ability to sympathize with the other characters that give him his sense of humanity. However, in Vincenzo Natali’s Splice (2009), the victory does not lie with the most human characters, but rather with the dehumanizing corporation, which threatens to recreate all of humanity in its likeness. Natali argues that the creation of Dren (Delphine Chanéac) represents the future of humanity in the sense that humans are becoming creatures with equal parts human and technological – a shift that threatens to change society’s perception of what is “human”. Splice is in many ways a modern retelling of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein: The Modern Prometheus – a point highlighted by Natali’s choice to name the protagonists Clive and Elsa; a direct homage to the stars of James Whale’s The Bride of Frankenstein (1935), Colin Clive and Elsa Lanchester. In the...

Words: 2347 - Pages: 10

Premium Essay

Frankenstein

...Frankenstein by Mary Shelley Key facts full title ·  Frankenstein: or, The Modern Prometheus author · Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley type of work · Novel genre · Gothic science fiction language · English time and place written · Switzerland, 1816, and London, 1816–1817 date of first publication · January 1, 1818 publisher · Lackington, Hughes, Harding, Mavor, & Jones narrator · The primary narrator is Robert Walton, who, in his letters, quotes Victor Frankenstein’s first-person narrative at length; Victor, in turn, quotes the monster’s first-person narrative; in addition, the lesser characters Elizabeth Lavenza and Alphonse Frankenstein narrate parts of the story through their letters to Victor. climax · The murder of Elizabeth Lavenza on the night of her wedding to Victor Frankenstein in Chapter 23 protagonist · Victor Frankenstein antagonist · Frankenstein’s monster setting (time) · Eighteenth century setting (place) · Geneva; the Swiss Alps; Ingolstadt; England and Scotland; the northern ice point of view · The point of view shifts with the narration, from Robert Walton to Victor Frankenstein to Frankenstein’s monster, then back to Walton, with a few digressions in the form of letters from Elizabeth Lavenza and Alphonse Frankenstein. falling action · After the murder of Elizabeth Lavenza, when Victor Frankenstein chases the monster to the northern ice, is rescued by Robert Walton, narrates his story, and dies tense · Past foreshadowing · Ubiquitous—throughout...

Words: 51140 - Pages: 205

Free Essay

Science for Everyday Life

...different things. Over time there have been many types of scientist and they weren’t all wearing lab coats. Leonardo da Vinci was one I found interesting due to my love of art. He combined art and science in his sketches. He has amazing futuristic designs and even envisioned flight. Sadly he was a chronic procrastinator and had frequent disasters with his experiments of new techniques (Leonadoda-Vinci). Galileo Galilei was an Italian scientist who developed the telescopes and started to observe the solar system. He was a pioneer of observations for modern physics and astronomy (Biography). Emanuel Swedenborg was a scientist who lived from (1688-1772). He is very interesting to me as he is one of the founders of Modern Spiritualism. His scientific work had plans for flying machines. He wrote books on chemistry, physics and the first book in Swedish on algebra (Swedenborg)....

Words: 1591 - Pages: 7