Mary Shelley’s, Frankenstein, was written during a period of dramatic revolution. The failed French Revolution and Industrial Revolution seriously mark the novel with hints of moral and scientific revolution. Through Frankenstein, Shelley sends out a clear message that morally irresponsible scientific development can unleash a monster that can destroy its creator. Upon beginning the creation process, Victor Frankenstein uses the scientific advances of others to infiltrate the role of nature. ‘The modern masters promise very little… But these philosophers…
have indeed performed miracles… They penetrate into the recesses of nature and show how she works in her hiding-places. They ascend into the heavens; they have discovered how the blood circulates, and the nature of the air we breath. They have acquired new and almost unlimited powers; they can command the thunders of heaven, mimic the earthquake, and even mock the invisible world of its own shadows’ (47).
Frankenstein sees these innovations as overpowering and substantially giving humans the power of god. Frankenstein believes that through these new scientific powers human kind would be served with a positive effect. Disease could be banished and self glory could result. ‘what glory would attend the discovery if I could banish disease from the human frame and render man invulnerable to any but a violent death’ (40)! Shelley characterizes Frankenstein as a modern a mad scientist. One who fails to look at the moral and social implications when attempting to play god.
Herbert Butterfield stated that, Since the Scientific Revolution overturned the authority in science not only of the middle ages but of the ancient worldit outshines everything since the rise of Christianity. During the scientific revolution Nicholas Copernicus, Galileo Galilei and Isaac Newton all voiced their opinions that contradicted the views of the church. Before the Scientific Revolution, ...
Frankenstein gets obsessed with the power to master nature and create a new life. In creating life, and ultimately the creature, Victor Frankenstein seeks unlimited power to the extent that he is taking the place of god in relation to his creation. ‘A new species would bless me as its creator and source; many happy and excellent natures would owe their being to me’ (52).
Frankenstein believes that there may be little end to his power.
‘I might in process of time renew life where death had apparently devoted the body to corruption’ (53).
In order to create the new life Frankenstein must look beyond moral obligation and dehumanize the act of life. He exploits natures resources in his obsession to manipulate nature. For Frankenstein death and decay have no morality. The process is merely scientific, ‘I beheld the corruption of death succeed to the blooming cheek of life; I saw how the worm inherited the wonders of the eye and brain’ (51).
It is this vantage point which allows Frankenstein to gather the bones and body parts from dissecting rooms and slaughterhouses, and look at them as only materials for his product.
He never once looks at each bone or body part as a person. Frankenstein is not concerned with morality. There is never a question as to whether he should create life, only how to do it. ‘When I found so astonishing a power placed within my hands, I hesitated a long time concerning the matter to which I should employ it. Although I possessed the capacity of bestowing animation… still remained a work of inconceivable difficulty and labour’ (52).
Frankenstein never questions the ethics in creating a new life, he simply uses science.