Science and Progress in Frankenstein and Hard Times

3785 Words Jun 8th, 2005 16 Pages
KWB 724: 19th CENTURY LITERATURE
MAJOR ESSAY
SCIENCE AND PROGRESS IN FRANKENSTEIN ANDHARD TIMES

The 19th century was a time of massive change socially, politically and scientifically. This time saw the rise of Imperialism and of the Industrial Revolution in Britain, seeing massive changes in the way industry was run. Also during this time the literary movements of Romanticism and Victorianism emerged. Romanticism dealt with the issues of reality versus illusion, childhood and man versus nature. The first book I will examine in this essay, Mary Shelley's Frankenstein, comes from this literary period and focuses on the man versus nature theme, namely the theme of scientific development and it's contrast to nature. The second book I will
…show more content…
This can be seen in volume one chapter five of the novel:
The summer months passed while I was thus engaged, heart and soul in one pursuit. It was a most beautiful season…but my eyes were insensible to the charms of nature. And the same feelings which made me neglect the scenes around me caused me also to forget those friends who were so many miles absent, and with whom I had not seen for so long a time" (Shelley, 1996:33).
It seems Shelley through this passage is trying to contrast the "good" science –the detailed and reverent descriptions of the workings of nature with "bad" science-the hubristic manipulation of the elemental forces of nature to serve man's private ends. Victor takes this force of nature (electricity) and uses it for his own ends to reanimate his monster. It becomes increasingly clear that Shelley had a good understanding of the science, which she describes, but she didn't like what she saw and to communicate this she makes Frankenstein's creation uncontrollable.
The role of myth, in this case Greek myth, is also a reading available for Frankenstein. The title itself offers the beginnings to this type of reading; Frankenstein or The Modern Prometheus. The myth of Prometheus is that he created humankind out of mud and water, and then stole fire from the gods to give to his creation. There are obvious parallels between the two stories; Frankenstein also created a human but instead of fire there was
Open Document