Mary Shelley's novel Frankenstein cannot merely be read as a literary work of the early 19th century. It represents the workings of young Shelley's mind. Further, it represents the vast scientific discoveries of the time, combined with Mary Shelley's intuitive perception of science. She views science as a powerful entity, but also recognizes the dangers if uncontrolled. Shelley demonstrates this fear in the book as science drives Victor Frankenstein to create his monster. In the end, it is also his use of science that inevitably becomes his demise.
Victor Frankenstein finds himself exploring the world of science where “it was the secret of heaven and earth… the outward substance of things or the inner spirits of nature and the mysterious soul of man” that attracted him (Shelley 18). Victor thirst for knowledge comes from his study of chemistry with a zeal for the antiquated world of alchemy. It was the alchemy books that convinces him to go beyond what the normal human limits can do, that is, the answer to life. Through the books he thrives on learning about natural science and looked upon the alchemists works and “took their word for all that they averred, and became their disciple” (Shelley 25). His readings direct him toward the study of forbidden knowledge which ultimately set him up for failure as he became addicted to create life to the point where he robbed graveyards for limbs and committing many unholy acts to create his monster. His unchecked ambition proves to have devastating consequences as his irresponsibility causes the death of those he loves most and he himself falls under the ascendancy of his own
Frankenstein was written two hundred years ago by Mary Shelly when she was eighteen years old. A science fiction novel but often read as a gothic horror story and ominous warning about the ramifications exceeding boundaries of science. The main character, Victor Frankenstein, at a young age has been fascinated by life and death and classical experiments of the alchemists, thus creating his first subject the Monster. Frankenstein epitomized the climatic change in the study of science during the eighteenth century. The time is characterized by important experimentations and rise of scholars such Faraday, Dalton, and Benjamin Franklin. There were signs in the novel that it was influenced by scientific discovery of our modern understanding of electricity. Shelly attempted to uncover the limits to which science can surpass morals. Frankenstein who attempted to attain powers through science by his display of creation of life and death, has forbidden limitations and unforgiving ramifications.
Frankenstein, written by author Mary Shelley, was a romantic based story written in Europe during the eighteen hundreds. During this time period, Europe was experiencing many social and economic changes. Many of these changes were a product of the industrial revolution of Europe. This time period can be defined and era of exploration, discovery and industrialization in which ideas were pushed to the limits. Victor’s creation of Frankenstein is a reflection of the industrial revolution and a scientific era in which the borders of the possible are pushed and society is forced to face a monster of their own.
The Romantic belief that strongly encouraged one’s connection with their natural surroundings is brought to the reader’s attention during the analysis of Frankenstein. Victor acts as a God-like figure as he creates life in the most unnatural way; which naturally contradicts this set of beliefs. This ideology is
Victor, the protagonist, is a Byronic hero who voluntarily isolates himself from society as his obsession of creating a new life-being becomes his main interest. He cuts himself off from all human contact and concentrates on his scientific experiment as he wishes his “thirst for knowledge” (Shelley 38) to be stilled. Additionally, he hides a dark secret inside him, namely the creation of the monster which he irresponsibly abandons and ultimately is forced to accept the consequences of death of his loved ones.
This is one of the ways in which Shelley, then, both embraces and simultaneously contests this particular romantic ideal. The moment which Shelley describes in Frankenstein is neither a moment recalled from her personal experience, such as a contemplative moment in nature, nor is the narrative voice her own, yet she is still portraying a particular quest to achieve the sublime. That quest, of course, is Victor Frankenstein’s effort to create a living being out of raw material in his laboratory. It is particularly curious that this quest occurs within the confines of Victor’s private, secluded laboratory, which is unlike the natural, pastoral environments of so many romantic texts. Yet, note the nature imagery in the following line, in which Victor expresses his feelings about the undertaking in one of the important quotes from Frankenstein by Mary Shelley : “No one can conceive the variety of feelings which bore me onwards, like a hurricane, in the first enthusiasm of success," he tells the reader, recalling the heady project in his lab. “Life and death appeared to me ideal bounds, which I should first break through…. A new species would bless me as its creator and source; many happy and excellent natures would owe their being to me" (Shelley 51). Victor Frankenstein is aromatic character to the extent that he reflected the romantic writers’ emphasis on a new way of seeing. The romantics believed that it was individual and
The 19th century reader of the novel Frankenstein by Mary Shelley was treated to a tale of fantastic proportions. A story of a monster that was created from parts of corpses and could be brought to life would have been an extremely scary story. They would not know if the creation of a monster in this way was really a scientific possibility. The 21st century audience however, now knows that this is not scientifically possible. The fear that was struck in the hearts of the 19th century reader by this monster is now gone. With this in mind the story of Frankenstein now has to be altered to conjure the same fear in our current society of that which existed in the hearts of the original audience. In Hollywood's remakes of the original
Mary Shelley is one of the well known writers in the era of the Romantics who wrote a famous novel called Frankenstein. One of Shelley’s features is using the nature as a source of inspiration and relaxation as in the case of her novel Frankenstein. Shelley uses the nature as a fuel for energy for the main character Victor Frankenstein and that what made him consistently go back to nature seeking for relaxation and spiritual comfort after the death of his dearest friends and family.
Romantic and gothic author Mary Shelley clearly demonstrates through her character's experiences in her novel Frankenstein that nature is an omnipotent power and man should fear and honor it as such because they are the lesser power. For nature and man to coexist peacefully man must be submissive to nature and in no way try to harness nature's power. This establishes Shelley’s concept that nature is almighty and cannot be controlled. Shelley illustrates her idea that nature is the authoritative power in the relationship between itself and humankind when nature forewarns man about what is to come. Nature heals the souls of people, especially when it is not in man’s own realm of abilities, depicting her notion that nature has a deep effect on the emotions of man. Mary Shelley manipulates her characters to better express her theme that man should give the utmost respect to nature. This is because it is a force to be reckoned with and can either help humankind in life or cause havoc.
Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein explores the concepts of knowledge and science and the dangers involved with the pursuit and investigation of these ideas. The novel conveys Shelley’s attitudes towards science by portraying it as having the capability to exceed the bounds of human restraint. Through the development of her protagonist Victor Frankenstein, the romantic and gothic aspects of her novel, the period of 1818 and the influences of the world she was living in that
Victor had an obligation to care for his creation, but chooses at first glance of his construction to abscond from its presence. The comparison of Victor as God-like highlights Enlightenment philosophers who have gone beyond the limits of humanity in order to attain knowledge. Victor is characterized then as a savant manipulating nature. The Creature acts as a balance for philosophers to stop and reflect upon their own enterprise and determine the fine line between acceptable and unacceptable knowledge as it pertains to nature. To this end, Shelley enforces that humanity must pay due respect to the limits placed in front of them by avoiding the Enlightenment philosophy that man is to find a definite definition for every phenomenon he encounters.
Given the deep ties to nature that Mary Shelley explores within Frankenstein, the principles and methodology of ecocriticism can be applied in many different ways. The interaction of humanity and nature is a concept explored throughout the novel, relating directly to a core tenet of ecocriticism, "directly relat[ing] who we are as human beings to the environment" (Bressler 231). Being as there is no "single, dominant methodology" (235) within ecocriticism, the extent to which we can use ecocriticism to interact with Frankenstein contains considerable depth. However, I will look to a few main methodologies of ecocriticism to look at Frankenstein in detail to uncover how the novel deals with the changing attitudes of humanity and nature in
Frankenstein by Mary Shelley explores the fight between man and nature through the story of eager scientist Victor Frankenstein, who artificially creates life from the body parts of the deceased with disastrous consequences. By highlighting the intense power of nature, Shelley comments on the folly of attempting to subjugate nature to bend to one’s will.
Romanticism, the literary movement that began in the late eighteenth century and gained strength during the Industrial revolution, emphasizes emotion, sublimity, and the significance of nature among other things. Writers during this time period wrote literature that was a clear reflection of Romanticism, and one of those authors was Mary Wollstonecraft Shelly. Her novel Frankenstein, which was published in 1818, incorporates different characteristics of Romanticism in many aspects but more directly through the characters. With an analysis of Victor Frankenstein, the monster, and Henry Clerval, it is clear that the characters of Frankenstein epitomize ideologies that were embodied during the Romantic Era including the Byronic hero, and emphasis on nature’s significance.