The online Oxford Dictionary defines technology as “the application of scientific knowledge for practical purposes, especially in industry” and “machinery and equipment developed from the application of scientific knowledge”. When thinking of this definition in relation to Frankenstein, it actually makes a certain amount of sense. Victor uses his vast amount of scientific knowledge to explore how he can bring life back and he ends up creating the Monster. You can obviously read this definition today and it would still make sense- just relating to many more advanced technologies than it did in the Frankenstein era. So, how has technology really changed since the era of Frankenstein?
Frankenstein by Mary Shelley was written shortly after the Industrial Revolution in Europe during the 18th and 19th centuries. It is a proven fact that the things that are happening around you on a day to day basis influence you as a person and your thoughts greatly, and I believe that the era that Mary Shelley was living in back when she wrote the novel influenced her ideas in many different ways. Her plot of a scientist that is thrown into the world of chemistry and alchemy only to end up discovering how to bring back life is what I would call not such as easy idea to put down on paper and make a novel out of. It is clear that she knew of the science and technological developments that were happening around her at that time such as the discovery of infrared radiation, the Atomic Theory, invention of the battery, and of course the beginning of modern chemistry.
Looking from another more complex angle; maybe Mary Shelley is more focused on the ambition of us as humans in our engagement with the development of technology and our thoughts behind the new ideas as opposed to the actual development of technology. This thought became relevant to me because I realized she never included Victor’s thoughts about the Monster prior to his creation and us as readers never were given a solid reason as to why he did it. We are left to assume whether Victor creates the Monster on a whim, to actually wreak havoc, or even possibly even become some form of revenge for his mother dying. The reason that I think Shelley leaves Victor’s thoughts before the Monster out of the novel is because she wants us to look at the concept of not the way that new technology is defined, but more how it is used by us, it’s human creators; for negative or positive reasons, based on our own interpretations. The creation of the Monster can be viewed as both positive and negative; positive because Victor’s experiment ended up working, negative because of the lack of thought that Victor put into the possible problems the Monster would bring into his life prior to the creation, and he ended up not being capable enough to fulfill the responsibilities of being the creator, much like a failed parent.
Looking at our society today, I would say technology is now basically here to stay and never going away. There’s a new type of phone that comes out every month, cars are driving themselves, fridges have touchscreens on them, and social medias such as Snapchat, Instagram, and twitter have made it so that we can contact basically whoever we want to, and we’re almost always guaranteed to get an instant message back right away. If you need the answer to a question, you can simply ask Siri or Google. Services like these become more and more advanced every single day, adding new features and testing different ideas. From the science laboratories in the Frankenstein era to the virtual reality goggles that you can purchase today, I think we can say as humans our influences, discoveries and uses of technology have come a very long way.
“Technology | Definition of Technology in English by Oxford Dictionaries.” Oxford Dictionaries | English, Oxford Dictionaries, en.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/technology.
ajorg13, Author. “Technology In Frankenstein.” Women’s Literature and Technologies, Spring 2016, 5 Apr. 2016, womenslitandtech16.wordpress.com/2016/04/05/technology-in-frankenstein/.
Shelley, Mary Wollstonecraft, and Maurice Hindle. Frankenstein, or The Modern Prometheus. Penguin, 1992.