How does Frankenstein demonstrate the fear of the power of science?

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As a genre, Gothic literature tends to reflect the presiding fears of the society in which it is written. This is certainly true of Frankenstein, whose primary concern is one we see elsewhere in works from the Enlightenment era: that science was evolving too quickly for humans to deal with, with the result that people were beginning to think they could, effectively, become gods.

In this novel, the subtitle "The Modern Prometheus" points the reader to its central thesis. The story of Prometheus is a cautionary tale of a man who thought he knew better than the gods, and, indeed, that he could relate to humanity just as well as they could, provided he had the right equipment. But the fire Prometheus stole was the preserve of the gods for a reason; and they kept it from humanity for a reason, too. In the case of Victor Frankenstein, then, the fear expressed is not that science will turn us into gods; rather, it is that science will make us egocentric enough to believe that our advanced technology makes us equal to gods, whereas, in fact, this is pure hubris.

Victor is not at all equipped to handle the creature he births. His knowledge of science may have permitted him to create life, but he does not know how to relate to or nurture that life; he expected to create a docile being who would respond to him, but in actuality, creates a thinking, feeling, willful, and sorrowful being, suicidal because he knows he is too different and too imperfectly made to ever have the companionship he needs. His personality is human; his external aspect is monstrous. But the monstrosity is not a reflection of the creature himself; rather, it reflects the hubris of Victor's creation, and is evidence that he used his technology too soon, before he had thought through its consequences.

In building the Creature, Victor essentially causes his own demise, as well as the suffering and painful death of a feeling entity who should never have been born. The suggestion here is not that science is inherently bad, but rather, that it has the potentially to be used very badly by people whose pride and ego outstrips their common sense and understanding of their own limitations.

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Mary Shelley's novel Frankenstein demonstrates the fear of the power of science in a couple different ways. First, Victor fails to realize his obsession with science has any power over him (this is recognized by the readers). Secondly, Victor's success at reanimating life leads to his own demise and loss of loved ones. This illustrates the idea that people should fear the power of science given it (science) is, essentially, the unknown.

Readers can see Victor's obsession with science as being a flaw (think Aristotle and hamartia (the tragic flaw of the tragic hero)). The fearful thing about this is that Victor, himself, fails to recognize the power of nature and how, when one interferes with nature, many things can go wrong. Essentially, science's power brings about fear because of its unknown qualities.

As for Victor's understanding of the power of science, and the fear associated with it, he does not realize how powerful science is until his success at reanimating life. Once his creature is "born," and Victor alienates it, the creature becomes far more powerful than Victor ever imagined. Instead, Victor honestly believed that he would be able to control his "son."

A new species would bless me as its creator and source; many happy and excellent natures would owe their being to me. No father could claim the gratitude of his child so completely as I should deserve theirs.

Therefore, as supported through Victor's own words, he believed that he could control nature. Unfortunately for Victor, he was very mistaken.

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