Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Frankenstein’s social impact

Being in print for almost 200 years Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein has left a large legacy.  Thousands of essays have been written on the topic of this book and Mary herself.  Students have even devoted dissertations to the topic of Frankenstein and its impact on society.  Had I planned better and not started this reading program during my first month of finals in a decade I was planning to explore each of the major points of interest in detail.  Instead I will use this thread to sum up the various topics that find themselves at the forefront of Frankenstein scholar.  If one of these topics interest you let me know and I can get you information for further study.  I am sure that as you read through these you will be able to pickup the source of these topics from what you have read.

Destructive Potential of Science
One of the most obvious topics that has been explored by those looking to this text and its reflection on society is the possible destructive nature of science.  When misused this tool we use to gain knowledge, and progress mankind, can in fact have the opposite effect causing harm to society.  When Mary Shelley wrote this book the scientific world was rapidly changing and this caused great fear.  People understood the power of the scientific search and knew that if it was allowed to progress too far irreparable damage to the world could be caused.   

In today’s world we have almost forgotten this fear.  Despite the fact that we live closer to global disaster than ever before we tend to forget the power of atomic bombs, or biological devices are cloning.  This book serves as a good reminder.  Some discoveries are not worth the consequences. 

Nature vs. Nurture
How would the monster have turned out had he been loved and cared for?  What would have happened had he been named Simon and tucked in at night with a bedtime story?  Of course this is a question that we can never answer, but the idea is intriguing.  The conversations between Frankenstein and his creation seem to suggest that things would have been drastically different. 

This story line may be different than anything we will ever experience in life, but I am willing to bet that a visit to your local prison may prove that the story isn’t too far off.  Humans struggle with the same emotions of rejection and vengeance as our demon do.

Tampering in God’s Domain
One of the most discussed themes in Frankenstein is the fact that God alone can create life.  By fooling around in this area we can only bring destruction on ourselves.  Of course some may disagree but even most passionate atheists will agree that some things, such as the creation of life, should be left alone. 

Gender identity
Yep, people use Frankenstein to discuss gender roles and identity.  It’s ridiculous in my opinion.  If you want information on where to find out more about this let me know and I will send it to you.  I tried to read about it and couldn't take it seriously…

Physical Deformity = Monster
I wish this were not true but I believe that it is.  The monster was reject almost everywhere he went instantly because of his appearance.  In our society this is true as well.  Of course we don’t beat and stone people, but watch from a distance sometime as a person with a major deformity or issue goes about life.  People leave a wide path for them, avoid eye contact and do not talk to them.  The less normal you look, the less as a human you are treated. 

I challenge you to change this in your life, and in the world around you. 

Other topics as well
Of course, these are not the only issues that are discusses regarding this text, but they are the main issues.  I apologize I could not devote more ink to them because of my poor planning.  That will not be the case in the future. 

1 comment:

  1. Nice work. We do experience some evidence of the last point with our daughter. She is in a wheelchair and has random movements and sometimes strange noises. She doesn't maintain good eye contact. While some people will try to engage her, they quickly give up and move on. It is their loss.