A butterfly flaps its wings and a tornado surges through Arkansas. That is a dramatized example of the well-known theory called the Butterfly Effect. This theory states that small events can chaotically affect larger events. A theory often used to emphasize something’s general importance, but an important idea nonetheless. This idea can relate to many things like; imagine if Adolf Hitler’s life wasn’t spared during World War 1 and the Holocaust never happened, this would have made the world never truly see that darkness of humanity and human rights would not have evolved as rapidly leaving us still in the shadows. This idea can be applied to Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. How? You ask. Well, think of the conditions she wrote the book under. A melancholic and rainy summer spent indoors led to the creation of the world-famous horror story. Now let’s play a game called add the butterfly effect and mess everything up. Imagine if the summer of 1815 was sunny and enjoyed outside, Lord Byron would’ve never come up with the idea of a ghost story writing competition since he was inspired by the dreary weather. Therefore, Frankenstein may not have been written. So what? you may say. I understand it’s just a book, however, it just may be the world’s most influential novel and has created some of the most well-known scientific ideas and pop culture creations. Let’s keep running with the hypothetical and explore the gap left in science and arts with the lack of our beloved Frankenstein.
Starting with the sciences. Take away the most classic example of sci-fi, reanimation and genetically modified creations, where does that leave us in 2019. Her novel has been considered one of the largest stepping stones into the world of science fiction writing that led to inspiring many others like Robert Louis Stevenson with his book: The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. Which is undoubtedly the most iconic story of a Doppelgänger. The dark themes of sci-fi lead us down the path of playing god, and without Shelley’s depiction of reanimation and creating new life inorganically we may have never seen the brutal outcomes of what it’s like to mess with nature. However, this idea of Victor Frankenstein playing god and creating a living monster is what made people fall in love with the story and make renditions of it. Finally, the name Frankenstein has become so iconic within itself. And I’m sure you’ve all heard of Franken-Food or GMO’s (genetically modified organisms), in the video What is Genetically Modified Food? by Scientific American, it outlines some of the absurd new developments in animals. These ideas derived from Shelley’s novel and inspired things like corn that can survive in a drought and Jurassic Park. The nightmares in Frankenstein are slowly becoming a reality and it is the writers and artist that inspire scientists to make the impossible possible. In a way, it’s like a beautiful symbiotic relationship.
Stepping away from the lab and into the studio… A countless list of movies, books, plays and art have been created all surrounding Shelley’s novel. A book that is so revolutionary that during the invention of cinema, a silent film was created. It played in 1910 and ran for 16 minutes! It stuck true to the plot in the novel although was condensed. Roughly 50 other movies have made spanning over a century. It doesn’t stop there, certain ideas like ‘create turns on creator’ have even inspired movie writers like James Cameron, who made The Terminator surrounding this idea. This novel didn’t only inspire movie makers but also artists, now the for songs is significantly shorter, coming in at number one is ‘Monster Mash’ by Bobby Pickett and the Crypt-Kickers. An iconic, classic and memorable song that is often played in the fall surrounding Halloween. One that has even inspired remixes and spin-offs of it as well. That is an amazing track record that many other books can’t even begin to compare and relate to.
With all this being said, you now understand just how important Shelley’s book has been on the world. Take it all away and the world becomes a little less spooky and plain. We never really think about how books influence the world, but in all honesty, they do a lot more than we think. You can’t even say “name a monster” without someone saying, Frankenstein. A creature that all of us know just a little more than we thought…
Gocon, Carl. “Frankenstein and Its Influence on Film.” Prezi.com, 9 Oct. 2014, prezi.com/6niyxz7tgeia/frankenstein-and-its-influence-on-film/.