Saturday, August 13, 2011

Another Stray Thought on Literature

What was Dr Frankenstein actually trying to do?  Was he trying to create life or to restore life? Why did he need to sew bits of bodies together? Why not just use a single dead body?

It’s clear what Mary Shelley was trying to do. She wanted the monster to be a new individual, so she could give it a character and behaviour not associated with any human being, but why did the Doctor go to all that trouble?


James Higham said...

He objected to the KISS principle?

Vincent said...

At a guess, I'd say that Mary Shelley was writing a satire on the hubris of scientists and technologists, who in her view may have thought themselves gods because of the wondrous creativeness of her inventions.

And then she may have used the resulting monster as a kind of meditation on ideas about nature, nurture and what it is to be human.

However, I would imagine that she didn't consciously think about any of the above, because as I understand it the whole story-writing exercise was done as a competitive game by a bunch of poets and intellectuals stuck in an Alpine lodge in a fortnight of bad weather.

Vincent said...

I meant to say "of their inventions" not her inventions.

CIngram said...


Not dramatic enough. You need to feel the lightning flashing.


I don't think Mary Shelley knew much at all about science, and I'm pretty sure she didn't have any strongly held opinions on the hubris of scientists. Your last suggestion sounds much more likely, and is probably the answer.

Scientists, however, are distinct from other seekers of knowledge in that their insights can easily be proved wrong. We know with certainty that what the mad Doctor did wouldn't work. We can't know what a man-made human would be like, but Mary Shelley thinks she does.

wv- ranthog. That should have been my nic. I wish I'd thought of it.