Analysis of Frankenstein under philosophical light

Topics: Scientific method, Immanuel Kant, Frankenstein Pages: 5 (1448 words) Published: March 22, 2014

Analysis of Frankenstein under philosophical light

Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, also known as Modern Prometheus, reflects upon major pitfalls of the modern philosophy as Victor Frankenstein attempts to prevail over God with the power of science. Through depicting Victor Frankenstein’s tragic fall sparked by his incessant yearning for higher knowledge, Mary Shelly warns modern readers on potential dangers behind mankind’s aspiration for excessive knowledge and its desire to overpower the immutable orders in life. Moreover, Shelly’s clever usage of “Fire and Ice” as a symbolism to represent enlightenment and rationality deserves a particular attention in understanding the tension between modern and ancient philosophy.

Towards the beginning of the movie, Victor Frankenstein successfully leads a prosperous and stable life in company of his loving family members. Moreover, unexpected arrival of his unrelated sister Elizabeth Lavenza even introduces romance and passion into Victor’s early period. Beginning is simply inundated with joy that it is impossible to foresee the imminent blood-soaked catastrophe. However, the origin for Victor’s narcissistic obsession with forbidden knowledge is instigated as he witnesses death of his mother along with incompetency of his father to rescue her as a doctor. Loss of his beloved mother inflicts grave damage to Victor’s soul and prompts his neurotic journey to conquer death via his ambition to construct eternal lives. It is critical to note that the emergence of modern philosophy was accompanied by the scientific revolution, marked by great thinkers including Francis Bacon, Rene Descartes and Immanuel Kant, whom introduced the power of inductive reasoning and knowledge over the ancient orders. Victor Frankenstein participates in this popular scheme of his time, first observed through his escalated disputation with his professor at medical school over his radical postulations. Though the modern philosophy acclaims moderate scientific longing, Victor Frankenstein pushes this limit by transforming the beauty within science into uncontrolled scientific massacre.

Kantian light of modern philosophy states autonomy as an obligation to follow the categorical imperative due to one’s rational will, not caused by any irrational intent. Though Victor Frankenstein might appear as a follower of his autonomous decisions for he adamantly rejects any outside opinions, his actions are undoubtedly irrational, illogical and impulsive. His thirst for higher knowledge is not a pure product of his rational appreciation for science but rather an irrational compulsion to revenge against the death of his mother. Unexpected loss of his mother has crumbled Victor Frankenstein’s faith in God and he attempts to revenge by seeking to become God through blowing life into inanimate beings. Furthermore, his actions fail to complement Kant’s categorical imperative as stitching corpses together under a secret laboratory does not and should not be ever universally acceptable. As Victor Frankenstein’s conducts were not performed for its own sake and fails to model universal code of ethics, his actions do not comply with Kantian definition of ethics. Nevertheless, it is sensible to place Victor’s actions under hypothetical imperative, which defines act ‘A’ as a necessary prerequisite to attain goal ‘B’. Throughout the movie, Victor Frankenstein longs for the revenge against God by becoming the creator himself. Though his rejection of the authority and driving of his autonomy stems purely from his will, his actions entail dehumanizing activities and catastrophic consequences.

Next, clash between God vs Self arises as Victor Frankenstein attempts to triumph God’s omnipotence via imitating Godly capacity depicted in Genesis 1:27, “God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him”. Rise of the modern philosophy followed by the scientific revolution exhibited a trend of replacing God’s...
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