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Is Frankenstein Is a Condemnation of Blind Ambition and Extreme Pursuit of “Scientific” Achievement Without Regard for Consequences and Ethical Implications?

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Frankenstein and his creation surprisingly share many of the same characteristics. Even though Frankenstein is an ugly, unwanted creature, he and Victor withhold an obvious connection throughout the novel. However, Victor and Frankenstein also share their differences as well. Victor was raised in a very caring and loving home. His parents gave Victor everything he wanted and Victor grew up with great friends. Victor’s parents even adopted him a lifelong companion in Elizabeth so he would never feel lonely. Victor had very strong relationships with those who surrounded him. Frankenstein 's upbringing was the exact opposite of Victors

Frankenstein was accepted by no one and he felt lost and sad in the big scary world. Frankenstein felt abandoned by his creator and he was out for revenge. Frankenstein felt that Victor owed him something considering that he brought Frankenstein into this world.

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The bicentennial of Frankenstein started early. While Mary Shelley’s momentous novel was published anonymously in 1818, the commemorations began last year to mark the dark and stormy night on Lake Geneva when she (then still Mary Godwin, having eloped with her married lover Percy Shelley) conceived what she called her “hideous progeny.” In May, MIT Press will publish a new edition of the original text, “annotated for scientists, engineers, and creators of all kinds.” As well as the explanatory and expository notes throughout the book, there are accompanying essays by historians and other writers that discuss Frankenstein’s relevance and implications for science and invention today.It’s a smart idea, but treating Frankenstein as a meditation on the responsibilities of the scientist, and the dangers of ignoring them, is bound to give only a partial view of Shelley’s novel

It’s not just a book about science. Moreover, focusing on Shelley’s text doesn’t explore the scope of the Frankenstein myth itself, including its message for scientists. This is one of those stories everyone knows even without having read the original: Man makes monster; monster runs amok; monster kills man. It may come as a surprise to discover that the creator, not the creature, is called Frankenstein, and that the original creature was not the shambling, grunting, green-faced lunk played by Boris Karloff in the 1931 movie but an articulate soul who meditates on John Milton’s Paradise Lost. Such misconceptions might do little justice to Shelley, but as the critic Chris Baldick has written, “That series of adaptations, allusions, accretions, analogues, parodies, and plain misreadings with follows upon Mary Shelley’s novel is not just a supplementary component of the myth; it is the myth.”That feels like a missed opportunity. Frankenstein is still frequently the first point of reference for media reports of such cutting-edge developments, just as it was when human IVF became a viable technique in the early 1970s. The “Franken” label is now a lazy journalistic cliché for a technology you should distrust, or at least regard as “weird”: Frankenfoods, Frankenbugs. The “wisdom of repugnance,” the phrase coined by the U.S. bioethicist Leon Kass and which informed the decision of the George W. Bush administration to pose drastic restrictions on federally funded stem-cell research in 2001, harked back directly to Mary Shelley’s novel.

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The 18th century saw the continued construction of foundations upon which all subsequent medical experimentation has been built (Pultney R.). Lady Mary Montagu promoted smallpox vaccination; its proponents experimented on prisoners to study its efficacy, and James Jurin, the secretary of the Royal Society, developed mathematical proof of this in the face of ecclesiastical opposition. Many of the modern concepts of therapeutic trials were described although not widely accepted. Empirical observation through experimentation was starting to be recognised as the tool that allowed ascertainment of fact and truth (Seymour M

Mary Shelley, 2000). An account of Dr Bianchini’s experiments on “Le Medicin Electrique”, reported to the Royal Society explains that “The experiments were made by Dr Bianchini assisted by several curious and learned men … who not being able to separate what was true … determined to be guided by their own experiments and it was by this most troublesome though of all the others the most sure way, that they have learned to reject a great number of what have been published as facts.” Similarly, Henry Baker’s report to the Royal Society, describing Abbe Nollet’s experiments, outlined the need for comparative studies and that “treatment should not be condemned without a fair trial” and a Belgian doctor, Professor Lambergen, describing the use of deadly nightshade for the treatment of breast cancer wrote “Administration of this plant certainly merits the attention of the medical profession; and surely one may add entitles the medicine to future trials … nevertheless the most efficacious medicines are such if its efficacy by repeated trials be approved.” In the mid 18th century James Lind conducted the first controlled trial to establish a cure for scurvy and his Treatise on the Scurvy contains what could be seen in modern terminology as the first “review of the current literature” prior to a clinical trial. Mary Shelley certainly knew of experiments with electricity (“galvanism”), probably through her parents, whose acquaintances included many experimentalists and her husband who had himself conducted his own experiments. Her introduction to the 1831 edition gives support: “perhaps a corpse would be re-animated; galvanism had given token of such things … perhaps the components parts of a creature might be manufactured … and endued with vital warmth” (p 8).

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After all, traditional Gothic conventions include creaking castles, evil aristocratic villains, and images of death and decay, including rotting chains, corpses, graveyards, and suggestions of the supernatural. Despite its lack of ghosts and haunted mansions, Frankenstein shares the spookiness and thrilling darkness definitive of the genre. It shares also the sense of crossing lines or boundaries and of otherworldliness

The enormous popularity of the Gothic novel had actually passed by 1816, but the genre, with its emphasis on darkness, madness, the supernatural, and strange passions, has never been fully dead.

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Pultney R. A brief botanical and medical history of the selanum lethale or deadly nightshade. Philos Trans R Soc1757;50:62–88.

Lind J. A Treatise of the Scurvy. 1753. Edinburgh Royal College of Physicians library, www.rcpe.ac.uk/library/collection.html

Seymour M. Mary Shelley. London: John Murray 2000:44

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