The Theme of Creation in “Frankenstein” by Shelley
The novel written by Mary Shelley represents a unique example of a book that raises numerous philosophical issues and covers a variety of themes extensively. The writer draws attention to the concepts of alienation, isolation, ambition, responsibility, and injustice, among others. Nevertheless, most themes are used primarily to cover the broader idea of creation and natural laws. Mary Shelley clearly indicates that people should not get obsessed with ideas that can lead them to disrupt the natural order. The idea that people, by definition, are not allowed to create new life by scientific means because they lack the ability to be responsible for their creations is at the center of the novel.
Scientists play an essential role in the enhancement of the living standards of millions of people. Nevertheless, once arrogance becomes the primary driving factor behind scientists’ desire to explore the world, the consequences can be truly catastrophic. The author chooses an epistolary form, as it allows for a better transition of Frankenstein’s warning to Walton concerning all the repercussions that follow the obsession with the idea of crossing natural boundaries. This notice is the main idea that Mary Shelley wants to share with readers. “Man, how ignorant art thou in thy pride of wisdom!” (Shelley 153). Thus, the author is determined to showcase that humans are not capable of understanding some of the fundamental principles that create harmony on Earth.
The idea that people’s arrogance is often rooted in ignorance is expressed multiple times in the novel. According to Mary Shelley, the human brain can understand only a fraction of all the numerous processes that run the world. Therefore, people should stop themselves from crossing certain boundaries for their own good. “Learn from me … how dangerous is the acquirement of knowledge, and how much happier that man is who believes his native town to be his world” (Shelley 42). Therefore, the author advises readers to refrain from analyzing some philosophical concepts, as this process brings nothing but negative changes in the human conscience, which leads to actions people later regret.
Throughout the entire narration, numerous remarks pinpoint the importance of a modest and straightforward attitude to one’s ability to discover the laws of nature and to influence the fate of the world. “A human being in perfection ought always to preserve a calm and peaceful mind” (Shelley 44). What is more, the author continues by expressing her essential idea on the issue concerning scientific discoveries and technological processes. “I do not think that the pursuit of knowledge is an exception to this rule” (Shelley 44). Therefore, it is vivid that Mary Shelley was determined to promote conservative values, putting particular emphasis on moderation as one of the most significant factors enhancing the harmonious pace of life.
The theme of responsibility plays a unique role in the transition of Mary Shelly’s values and ideals. Throughout the novel, Frankenstein is accused of being self-centered and irresponsible. It is easy to notice that parental responsibility is of special importance to the author. Frankenstein’s creation, just like any living creature, needs attention, compassion, assistance, and guidance. The author wants to underline all the repercussions that are rooted in the lack of attention and responsible attitude. Moreover, Mary Shelley provides her vision of the issues that cause such behavior. “The different accidents of life are not so changeable as the feelings of human nature” (Shelley 45). As always, arrogance, an unsettled mind, and excessive reliance on feelings are blamed.
Mary Shelley manages to provide a pragmatic yet straightforward formula for a borderline that defines valuable knowledge. “If the study to which you apply yourself has a tendency to weaken your affections and to destroy your taste for those simple pleasures … then that study is certainly unlawful” (Shelley 44). Therefore, Shelley was intelligent, brave, and talented enough to become one of the first authors to provide a bright illustration of what happens once people cross the line. Moreover, her pessimistic attitude that emphasizes the importance of careful, gradual development became the cornerstone of the numerous science-fiction works that provide a gloomy picture of the future. Most ideas that center around the destructive nature of the fast pace of technological progress were undoubtedly influenced by the ideas and images first created by an 18-year-old woman in the 19th century.
In her novel, which was dubbed the first true science-fiction book, Mary Shelley managed to cover a plethora of philosophical concepts. Moreover, the author provided extensive illustrations of what can happen if people do not want to act according to the laws of nature. The growing importance of science in the 19th century made many people in Western societies believe that technological progress can help people change the fundamental principles that run the world. Frankenstein represents an early, bright attempt to prove such ideas wrong. The fact that such a beautiful and well-structured novel was written by a young woman has also helped to convince people that natural harmony cannot be substituted with certain inventions and new technologies.