Life: Good or Evil?


Technology is the application of scientific knowledge for practical purposes. In Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, the uses of technology play a huge role in how the story pans out. New ways of combining science and technology and the purposes people use them for has become a huge controversy between people all over the world. Today, scientists aren’t afraid to try new things; however, in Victor’s time his experiment may have been a little ahead of the game.

Frankenstein having taken place in the 1700’s, didn’t have a ton of technological developments. This lack of technology links to the idea present in the book that time passes quickly. Victor leaves for University in the beginning of chapter 3 of Frankenstein and “six years had elapsed…and I stood in the same place where I had last embraced my father before my departure for Ingolstadt” says Victor when returning in chapter 7 after the death of his younger brother (Shelley 81). That much time passing in so few chapters may be part of Shelley’s writing style but, I think it’s also due to the lack of technology. With today’s technology you can talk to whoever you want whenever you want and get a reply in seconds. If Victor was to write a letter, (which was pretty well the only form of communication technology at the time) it could take weeks for him to receive a reply. The journey from Ingolstadt to his home in Geneva was also long and so, Shelley basically skipped over the “boring” parts of Victor’s life and stuck to the details which made time seem to pass more quickly.

Image result for 1700 map of geneva to ingolstadt

Frankenstein’s journey

 

Today, it is unimaginable, especially to teenagers and children that a letter was once the only form of long-distance communication. Now all you have to do is click a few buttons or tap your message on a virtual keyboard and press send. Imagine if today’s technology was accessible to Victor during Frankenstein. What would have been different? Victor wouldn’t have had lost touch with his family because there would be no excuse for him to not send them a text; not that there was much of an excuse for him to not write a letter. There are so many cameras around that the Monster would have been spotted. The murder of William may have even been caught on camera. This means Justine would be alive, and maybe everyone else too if the Monster had been captured. The Monster spent a lot of time in “the forest near Ingolstadt” at night so he wouldn’t be seen, this would be much more difficult today because of things such as tree cameras that would have caught him, even at night (Shelley 108). This situation reminds me of Bigfoot. A monster creeping through the forest at night, claimed to have been spotted before. Oddly, no one seems to think the cottagers or anyone else who encountered the Monster to be ‘crazy’ for seeing him like some people think about those claiming to have seen Bigfoot.

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Sighting of Bigfoot

 

Many scientific discoveries become controversial at some point in time and this may be why Victor kept his own discoveries to himself. “Certain scientist have always changed the dogma of the era and often faced persecution because of it” says The Brain Bank North West. Victor was definitely changing the dogma of his era, but no one knew because of his secrecy. Was Victor afraid of persecution? I would be, considering the intensity of his discoveries and the lack of technology and other scientific advancements of his time. But what was the point in all this work if Victor couldn’t even bring himself to share his successes with his best friend? “I could never persuade myself to confide in him that event which was so often present to my recollection” Victor says about Henry. Women tell their friends everything and I’m sure everyone has experienced an example of this, some people even say it’s why women tend to live longer than men because they share their thoughts and feelings. It’s unhealthy to keep everything boggled up inside of you and that is exactly what Victor is doing. All the stress of his mother’s death, his brother and Justine’s death that he blames himself for, as well as the never-ending terror of not knowing what additional crimes your creation is committing out in the world that  Victor doesn’t talk about with anyone begins to drive him mad. While Victor is in prison he continually accuses himself for Henry’s death and his father who is there with him blames Victor’s state on his illness when in reality Victor was really ‘going crazy.’ Although it made Victor crazy, a lot of scientific breakthroughs are made when people push ethical boundaries of their time. Recreating life is pushing boundaries, but Victor never admitted it to be wrong; although, “[he] shuddered to think that future ages might curse [him] as their pest” for creating a second monster (Shelley 180).

 

Another controversy involving Frankenstein is whether science and technology is good or evil. Torben Friehe, the Co. founder of the Good Technology Collective says, “whether tech is good or bad depends on the people that create it.” Friehe also says “engineers also need to… question the purpose of the tech they contribute to” this goes for any type of innovation. Victor never gives reason for creating the Monster or even thinks what he’ll do if his experiment works and it ends up backfiring. Does this make Victor bad or just idiotic for not thinking ahead? All Victor seemed to care about was “that [he] alone should be reserved to discover so astonishing a secret” he had no reason why, he just wanted to be the first to make this discovery (Shelley 52). Too many people look at ‘can’ it be done not ‘should’ it be done. For example, during the holocaust the technology of trains and gas chambers made is possible to kill 6 million Jews, but that doesn’t mean it should have been done. A modern example would be that scientists managed to create healthy baby mice from just stem cells and believe they may be able to do the same with human cells. This discovery is positive because the experiments worked, and they had a vision in the end to help infertile women be able to have children. In the end, Science and technology are neither good or evil, it all depends on the people who create it and they ways they intend to use it.

 

Baby mice created by scientists using stem cells.

 

Bibliography

 

Brain Bank North West. “Pushing Scientific Boundaries: How Far Is Too Far?” The Brain Bank North West, 25 Feb. 2013, thebrainbank.scienceblog.com/2013/02/25/pushing-scientific-boundaries-how-far-is-too-far/.

Maack, Már Másson. “Whether Technology Is Good or Bad Depends on the People That Create It.” The Next Web, 13 Dec. 2017, thenextweb.com/tech/2017/12/13/whether-technology-is-good-or-bad-depends-on-the-people-that-create-it/.

Shelley, Mary Wollstonecraft, and Maurice Hindle. Frankenstein, or The Modern Prometheus. Penguin, 1992.

Shmoop Editorial Team. “Frankenstein Victor Frankenstein Quotes Page 1.” Shmoop, Shmoop University, 11 Nov. 2008, www.shmoop.com/frankenstein/victor-frankenstein-quotes.html.

History.com Editors. “The Holocaust.” History.com, A&E Television Networks, 14 Oct. 2009, www.history.com/topics/world-war-ii/the-holocaust.

Photo Bibliography

 

GmbH, StepMap. “Frankenstein’s Journey – Landkarte Für Switzerland.” StepMap, 19 Feb. 2013, www.stepmap.com/map/frankensteins-journey-dJoNIrRwdA.

“Top 10 Bigfoot Sightings of the Last 5 Years.” Animal Planet, 15 Dec. 2014, www.animalplanet.com/tv-shows/finding-bigfoot/lists/10-bigfoot-sightings-last-5-years/.

Frankenhood


A person’s childhood could be the best or worst thing that’s ever happened to them; and it’s something a child doesn’t have much control over. Romantic’s believed that “childhood is good” and “causes the heart to soar” but that’s not the case for everyone as seen in Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. Although the Monster is not necessarily a child, he is still a new being that needed guidance and attention that he did not receive. Childhood affects a person’s whole life and the bonds formed with parents and their early learning experiences can take a big toll on the rest of their life. The Monster had no guidance and everyone he encountered ran away from him including his own creator. From the end of chapter eleven to the end of chapter fifteen, the Monster observed the family living in the cottage. He envied the way they love one another and asks himself “where were my friends and relations?” (Shelley 129). The Monster looked upon the cottagers as “superior beings” and “formed in [his] imagination a thousand pictures of presenting [himself] to them” (Shelley 122). This reminds me of a child looking up to his parents and being nervous to present something in front of him. In my own life, the pressure put on me to receive good grades always makes me nervous to see my parent’s reaction to my report cards which reminds me of how the Monster is afraid to present himself to the cottagers. The cottagers were the only figures that expressed love before the Monster’s eyes. Although the Monster saw good in these people, he knew that if he presented himself to them they would be afraid and run from him because this is what he had experienced in the past. This shows how past experiences like your childhood affect the rest of your life. Imagine you had just awoke to a new world and everyone who looked at you and then ran away; leaving you completely alone in a strange new place. The Monster felt this, and it made him lonely and increasingly angry for the rest of his existence.

Drawing of the Monster outside the cottage by Arlyne Gonzalez

 

Victor’s childhood was fairly opposite from the Monster’s. Victor even said, “No human being could have passed a happier childhood than [himself]” (Shelley 36). A caring and supportive environment increases a child’s chances of achieving better learning abilities. Victor proves this because he had a very good childhood and spoke of his parents as being “possessed by the very spirit of kindness and indulgence” (Shelley 36) and goes on to be an extremely intelligent scientist. Victor shows his intelligence from the start of his narration. Victor is a freethinker with his own opinions on many subjects, this may be why he doesn’t see the wrong in his scientific works. Jean-Jacques Rousseau, a philosopher from Geneva who was a tremendous inspiration to Marry Shelly’s Frankenstein believed that well-balanced, freethinking is crucial to the education of a child. Rousseau also believed that society corrupts children (or humans in general) and that once corrupted they will never return to their natural state. Victor says, “I feel exquisite pleasure in dwelling on the recollections of childhood, before misfortune had tainted my mind and changed its bright visions” (Shelley 37). I think this quote was inspired by Rousseau because Victor remembers the greatness of his childhood and thinks of how society is ruining his dreams. Victor’s father tells him that the alchemy he was so inspired by is “trash” (Shelley 38) which crushed Victor but since society said it was “old news” then Victor must move on to study the current science. This all happened to Victor in Chapter two which is before he went to university thus, Victor showed his interests and intelligence at a very young age, reflecting the benefits of his happy childhood.

Jean-Jacques Rousseau 

Childhood may have a big affect on your intelligence but, intelligence isn’t everything. When characterizing someone you tend to think first of how they act and treat people, not how intelligent they are. A lot of your character traits come from your parents; so. if Victor’s parents were so loving and kind, why wasn’t he? Victor abandoned his creation but his parents brought in Elizabeth when she was in need of a good family. Victor had already been at school for over a year when he ran from the Monster, society may have corrupted him already. It is prevalent throughout the book that Victor never went back to his true self that we met at the beginning of his narration just like Rousseau’s theory says. Victor becomes detached from his family which seemed to be most important to him in his early years, he returns home only to leave again instead of marrying Elizabeth and even goes back to his shameful work. I believe it’s easy to forget your family morals when you’re away from home, I’ve seen it happen to a lot to people in University that go from being good kids to party people and they throw away their future.

University of Ingolstadt

Some people see Victor and the Monster as being alike, but I don’t. The Monster was given no guidance and shown no values and yet he knew he wanted a family to love and he didn’t care about being intelligent. Victor on the other hand, left his family and didn’t talk to them for two years and selfishly only cared about his studies. The Monster desires guidance because of the way DeLacey teaches the girl to read. The Monster increasingly becomes more human while Victor’s humanity decreases. Neglecting everything in his life and being self centred. When the Monster threatened Victor by telling him he would “be with [him] on [his] wedding-night” (Shelley 182) Victor assumed the Monster was planning on killing him and that he was the only one in danger. If Victor had taken a second to think of someone besides himself, he may have thought that his family could be in danger too. I think at this point Victor is really wanting to go back to his childhood when all was peaceful and happy.

 

Bibliography

“Importance of Early Childhood Development.” Brain Development in Children, www.aedc.gov.au/parents/the-importance-of-early-childhood-development.

“Importance of Early Childhood Development.” Encyclopedia on Early Childhood Development, Mar. 2011, www.child-encyclopedia.com/importance-early-childhood-development.

“Rousseau’s Philosophy in Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein – 1227 Words.” Study Guides and Book Summaries, 6 Apr. 2017, freebooksummary.com/rousseaus-philosophy-in-mary-shelleys-frankenstein-19177.

Shelley, Mary Wollstonecraft, and Maurice Hindle. Frankenstein, or The Modern Prometheus. Penguin, 1992.

Shmoop Editorial Team. “Frankenstein Victor Frankenstein Quotes Page 1.” Shmoop, Shmoop University, 11 Nov. 2008, www.shmoop.com/frankenstein/victor-frankenstein-quotes.html.

Shmoop Editorial Team. “Frankenstein Life, Consciousness, and Existence Quotes Page 2.” Shmoop, Shmoop University, 11 Nov. 2008, www.shmoop.com/frankenstein/life-consciousness-existence-quotes-2.html.

 

Photo Bibliography

Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy, www.iep.utm.edu/rousseau/.

Foundations of Literary Studies: Reading Frankenstein Two Hundred Years Later, foundationsofliterarystudies.wordpress.com/tag/the-cottagers/.

Frankenstein — Articles, knarf.english.upenn.edu/V1notes/univers.html.

 

 

 

Goodness in Nature


Frankenstein, the Romantic era novel of mystery in nature. The Romantics strongly believed that the natural goodness of humans is enhanced through the beauty of nature; while the urban life of civilization interferes with it’s purity. Nature is capable of both creating and destroying beyond human control. Control is a “big idea” or “theme” in Frankenstein especially in Victor himself. When Victor was 15 years old he witnessed the extinguish of an oak tree near his house during a violent thunderstorm. Victor was young but was already showing signs of his genius, the lightning intrigued him more so than it would have to another 15-year old. The second Victor began learning of the properties of electricity he dropped his former occupations and committed himself strictly to mathematics and science. Scientists generally want to control things that seem to be beyond human control. The lightning hitting the oak tree shaped Victors mind distinctively, it inspired him to learn more about lightning electricity and foreshadows the discoveries he later makes as a scientist. It is ironic how the mass destruction lightning caused before Victors eyes later inspires him to use lightning electricity to create life. The lightning was one of the events in which Victor encountered powerlessly along with the death of his mother and his younger brother. I believe these deaths may have taken a subconscious toll on Victor, thus inspiring him to recreate life. Possibly in an effort to bring back those he loved. Is this wrong? The only one truly able to create and control life and nature should be God. Is this why Victor could not control his creation? Victor flourished as a child, he was intelligent and surrounded by truly loving friends and family. This slowly disappears from him when Victor decided to move away to Ingolstadt to go to University is when his mother dies of scarlet fever. This tragedy happening right before Victor moves away from home should have been a sign that only worse things would happen once he left, and they did. When Victor left his home, he left his family and all that he loved. He lost his connection with nature. He got deep into his studies and experiments, ignoring his family and social life. He became lonely, pale and obsessed while surrounded by dead body parts, attempting to construct new life. As you can imagine this would be a very unhealthy environment. I relate this to when I’m studying and trying to do too many things at once. I begin to feel overwhelmed and it really helps to get out of my closed-door room and give my mind a break before I go crazy. You’ve probably been told at some point in your life to “go get some fresh air” to make you feel better, and it usually works. The Romantics were right about humans being “one with nature”, we’re apart of it and need it to survive. When Victor removed himself from nature and locked himself away in his apartment he became ill. He lost touch with his family and had a fever lasting for months. Victor’s family and himself had all been grieving the death of his mother and eventually his younger brother. They needed each other but Victor wasn’t keeping in touch. The loss of nature shaped his mind differently and made him neglect the things that are important to him. When I’m sad there’s one person I need to comfort me, everyone has that person or people who love them most. Humans need love to survive and they do it naturally, we need every part of nature to live happily and healthily.         

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

https://www.enotes.com/homework-help/describe-theincident-with-oak-treethat-victor-297716

 

 

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