Frankenstein and the Enlightenment

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Mary Shelly’s novel, Frankenstein, can be greatly related to many horror novels, no consideration of morality or thought. Shelly writes her story in a real world perspective showing themes of corruption and downfall making it seem frighteningly realistic. It truly is mind-boggling how research can conflict with religion without a thought or care. During the enlightenment, science began to mask over faith and religion, creating a cultural phenomenon. This is still a factor in today’s world. Although experimenting and research can have poor and great affects, the common question comes to mind, “even though it can be done, should it be done?” While Shelly talks of science and technology, it seems to become more predominate that not all experiments should be done.

Europe in the 18th century was a time where intellects started a cultural movement. There were questions that needed answers but instead of answering by theory or faith, people wanted hard facts, a real reason. By searching for the power of reason, society could only progress and obtain knowledge they haven’t had before. The enlightenment was sparked by John Locke, Isaac Newton and many others, but in Shelly’s novel, Victor Frankenstein, although a fictional character, was deeply affected by the enlightenment in her novel.

Ever since Victor was young, he has always been fascinated with science. From his readings as a teenager on natural philosophy to going to school in Ingolstadt and his professor unconsciously convincing him to pursue his interest in the field of science, Victor was born to be a part of the enlightenment. “In other studies you go as far as others have gone before you, and there is nothing more to know; but in a scientific pursuit there is continual food for discovery and wonder.” (Frankenstein, p. 52) Victor was intrigued by the creation of life and would hide away in his apartment, studying anatomy, death and decay.

He soon began to create his creature and while he was devoted to his work, he continued to ignore his family, friends, schoolwork and social life. As time progressed, he became both lonely and obsessed. At this point in the novel is where many could agree that even though something as tremendous as creating another human being could be done, shouldn’t be done.

Victor was obsessed with trying to discover the key to life, but should some things be left unsolved? Back in eighteenth century, there was only one reason why babies were born, people accomplished the things they had, or people deceased, and that was because of God. So technically, is Victor going back on God’s will? God did not want another human to be created by Victor, if he wanted another human, he could create one Himself. In a way, Victor defined God’s wishes in order to answer his obsession with life.

As a college student, Victor had kept himself locked away in his apartment, searching for answers. The project he had in his hands was stupendous and upon knowing this, he distanced himself away from the people who loved him the most. Is searching for reason all that more important than family? In the end it left Victor mentally unstable. Victor almost contradicts himself, while trying to create life. As he creates a new life, he is slowly losing his as he is kept hidden away. As he collects decaying body parts, his soul is slowly decrepitating. Maybe the mystery he needed to solve was the reasons of his own life, how to truly value ones self.

Victor chooses to continue spending his time running with his scientific fascination, to finally becoming successful. As the monster arises, Victor is sickened by his creation. Although he succeeded with his goal, the realization of what he had just created sunk in. "For this I had deprived myself of rest and health. I had desired it with an ardour that far exceeded moderation; but now that I had finished, the beauty of the dream vanished, and breathless horror and disgust filled my heart.” (Frankenstein, pg. 42) When he...
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