Victor Frankenstein’s creation and his process of assembling the “monster” seems to be a step further into the fears of science. The fear in Shelley’s novel is obvious: it is the fear of a corruption of nature and a fear of man’s creation turning against its creator. When comparing the science of Frankenstein to the science of, say, steampower or the train, there are other differences between the, I suppose, “ethics” of each field and process (I chose ethic since no other word came to mind). Overall, the art of science of Frankenstein certainly becomes a new sort of creation, one still popularly explored by many genres today.

In Shelley’s novel, Frankenstein embarks in his process of the ultimate form of creation: the creation of life. While some might call Frankenstein’s choice to leave out the particulars of the process by which he accomplishes this a cop-out on Shelley’s part, it only lends itself further into the fear of what he has done. At first the scientific mind of Victor is only concerned in the success of is experiment, he thinks nothing of the potential consequences other than the victory he mind claim in the name of science. It isn’t until the dead thing is actually given life, motion, and basic human traits that horror truly sinks in for Frankenstein. Thinking about this, it’s something like the sense of wonder that people might feel today when seeing robots fashioned after humans.

The Japanese android known as ACTROID.

For some reason, there is a seemingly inherit fear in seeing something non-human have human traits. While I don’t want to flood this post with links and images, here’s a clip of an android in action:Acrtroid speaks and moves!

Perhaps, though, I’m making ACTROID out to be too much of a monster, like Frankenstein’s creation, and we might not feel a tinge of fear but rather a deep sense of a wonder since it appears more human than the monstrous creation of Victor.

Throughout the novel we also see Victor constantly regretting what he has created and wishing there were someway he could take it back (he also fully takes on the emotional responsibility of all the deaths associated with his monster). While those who might take credit for the train or the steamboat might feel quite the opposite, there is still a social criticism on them for those who disagree with what they’re doing. As in the poems by Wordsworth and Whitman, they feel that they’re contributing to the destruction of nature. In Frankenstein’s case, while there isn’t as broad as a social criticism of him and his creation, there is a personal one, which might even bring religion into play.

Frankenstein has committed an act against the natural order of things by creating life. Indeed there is the process of procreation (baby-making) but all aspects of that are natural (and yes, I am blatantly ignoring artificial insemination). Frankenstein has committed what can be interpreted as the ultimate act against nature as well as religion. In some film interpretations of the text, the feeling of god-like power is almost exaggerated in Frankenstein. In the Mel Brooks version (I link this video for three reasons: 1) only one I could find 2) not a comedic moment 3) the movie is hilarious) Gene Wilder expresses this sentiment very well. The sacrilegious nature of Frankenstein’s actions are not left up to debate as the man behind the steam engine might have been, but are seemingly absolute.

Another text that comes to mind when discussing the use of science to create a sort of perversion of life is one by a favorite author of mine, HP Lovecraft. The short story is titled Herbert West: Reanimator.

In the Holmes’s excerpt, he writes, “The notion of an infinite, mysterious Nature, waiting to be discovered or seduced into revealing all her secrets, was widely held.” Indeed, Frankenstein can be seen as a rational scientist. However, all aspects of science stems from the use of nature in attempting to understand or reshape it. Therefore, Victor has not only seduced Nature, but replicated its process of creating life. He has reduced the process from insemination, birth, and maturing to simply putting a subject together on a slab. Later he writes, “These doubts…favored a softer ‘dynamic’ science of invisible powers…of growth and organic change.” There is indeed the sense of “invisible powers” in Shelley’s text, at the very least in the sense that the process of creating his monster is never told to us.

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