What is Mary Shelley's position in Frankenstein?

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teachertaylor eNotes educator| Certified Educator

As an extension of the above point regarding whether or not people should take action just because they can.  One of the dilemmas that is explored in Frankenstein is man's harnessing of nature to use for his own purposes.  When Victor's mother dies, Victor just cannot relate to the fact that she is gone and thus he does not accept the natural order of life.  He goes on a quest to learn how to harness nature for his own purposes so that he can bring life from death.  Obviously, he learns how to do this and is left with the dilemma of whether or not he should use his skill and knowledge to create life from death.  The tragedies that ensue from Victor's decision make the reader question whether or not man should try to harness nature in this way, and it seems that Shelley's position on this issue is that we should not.

mojoemonkey69 | Student

That’s actually a very interesting question. Although the reader can never know what Mary Shelley was thinking when she wrote the book, we can take a look at the text itself to figure something out.

Victor Frankenstein makes a creature (The Creature) in his lab with the intention of figuring out how to reanimate dead tissue. The book tackles two issues that come out of this experiment. First, if a scientist attempts to create something with the intention of benefiting humanity and it blows back up in his face, should he take responsibility? Secondly, just because you can do something, should you? The Creature is a result of this botched experiment and since it’s a sentient, self-aware being, it has feelings and beliefs, the Creature spends the rest of his time trying to connect with his “Father” (the creator). But we have to be careful, because even though Frankenstein IS successful in his experiment, the Creature cannot be contained and kills everyone Frankenstein loves (his wife, and best friend).

So you can look at it both ways. Shelly could, perhaps, be saying that it doesn’t matter what the after math of something could be, as long as it benefits humanity in some way, OR Shelley could be saying that power is a tricky thing and just because you have the ability to play god, doesn’t you have too. Either way, everyone loses in the end.