How are Victor Frankenstein's views and practice of science, as seen in Mary Shelley's Frankenstein, a metaphoric model for the need for social change?

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literaturenerd | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

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The Romantic movement, like other new artistic movements, was a reaction to the previous period (the Industrial Revolution and Age of Enlightenment). Given their dissatisfaction with what preceded them, the Romantics elevated the individual, imagination, and nature.

All this said, Mary Shelley's Frankenstein can be seen to act as a metaphor for her desire for social change. Given the influence her parents (William Goodwin and Mary Wollstonecraft) had on different movements--especially the feminist movement--the lack of feminine power in the novel speaks to Shelley's own call for change particulary given that Victor's views of women and their power are not positive. He tells Elizabeth that he will only marry her if she waits to hear his secret. Also, Victor holds no qualms about destroying the female creature. By far, the most poignant example of Victor's views regarding women is shown by his taking away of the one thing woman had over men--the ability to give life.

Another example of Shelley's call for change could come from the warning the novel provides. While scientific advancement is important, some things should simply be left as they are (illuminated through Victor's search for Forbidden Knowledge). Therefore, while Shelley may have agreed with scientific advancements, the novel metaphorically serves as a warning against going too far.


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