“I saw the pale student of unhallowed arts kneeling beside the thing he had put together. I saw the hideous phantasm of a man stretched out, and then, on the working of some powerful engine, show signs of life, and stir with an uneasy, half vital motion. Frightful must it be; for SUPREMELY frightful would be the effect of any human endeavour to mock the stupendous mechanism of the Creator of the world.” (Mary Shelley, 1816)
Did you know that it was from this dream that a twenty-one-year-old girl would be inspired to write a story about a creature created by a man named; Dr. Frankenstein?
Marymary_shelley; author of “Frankenstein or the Modern Prometheus, and her husband, the writer; Percy Bysshe Shelley, were sitting around in a Summer mansion inventing ghost stories to scare each other. At that time period, great inventions were taking place in the medical field, such as “galvanism.” Galvanism; which is now known as “electrophysiology” is the contraction of a muscle that is stimulated by an electric current. A scientist by the name of Luigi Galvani was using these electrical shocks to see if he could animate an animal that he had dissected.
Mary was both fascinated and repelled by this practice. She had told her husband that “playing God” was similar to the Greek myth of Prometheus.
Prometheus was the son of the gods Iapetus and Clymene, both Titans. The Titans, led by Cronos, were the original rulers of the universe; they were later overthrown by the Olympians, led by Zeus. The name Prometheus was formed from the Greek pro (before) and meters (thinking); thus, his name means forethought. He is associated with the creation of man from earth and water and with the bestowal on the man of gifts that made him superior to animals. After the Olympians became the supreme rulers of the universe, Prometheus continued to look out for the welfare of human beings. (Frankenstein. (2010) Retrieved August 24, 2010, from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Frankenstein
Last, First. (2010) What is the universal meaning of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein? -)
Gothic and “romantic” literature was in vogue. Both Mary and her husband loved to be frightened with gruesome stories. After Mary had the dream of the beginnings of Frankenstein, she send her book anonymously because the Gothic genre was reserved for men. Women were considered “too delicate” for such dark works. When the book came out it created such a stir that the profession of “body-snatching” (stealing corpses of the newly dead from cemeteries) rose to a new level. Doctors and Scientists who had already heard about galvanism wanted to see if it was possible to re-animate a dead body back to life. Experimenting with Galvanism and re-animation of corpses
They missed the whole warning message of Mary’s book. Another message that Mary strongly conveyed was the tragedy of Dr. Frankenstein’s creature when he became alive.
The monster has often been mistakenly called “Frankenstein.” In 1908 one author said “It is strange to note how well-nigh universally the term “Frankenstein” is misused, even by intelligent people, as describing some hideous monster.“
Frankenstein. (2010) Retrieved August 24, 2010, from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Frankenstein#cite_note-11
If you’ve seen any of the hundred or so odd movie versions of “Frankenstein” or read the original book; then you know of the torture and the sadness the monster experienced.
“ALL MEN HATE the wretched; how, then, must I be hated, who am miserable beyond all living things! Yet you, my creator, detest and spurn me, thy creature, to whom thou art bound by ties only dissoluble by the annihilation of one of us. You purpose to kill me. How dare you sport thus with life?” (Frankenstein; 1818)
And so one of the greatest modern day fables illustratedfrankenstein-Boris-Karloff the downfalls of mankind when hubris outweighs humility and consciousness. Mary was never against scientific discovery and explorations, she was fearful of how far people would take for the sake of “science.”
I’m ending this post with a video set to modern day music of Dr. Frankenstein and his Creature.