What approach can be taken toward writing an essay that evaluates the message of the novel, Frankenstein, with respect to scientific ambition and the threat that it does/does not pose?

Expert Answers
mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

With the Industrial Revolution, major changes came to England in the social structure, economic policies, and in thought.  For, scientific studies and advancements generated not only new machinery and technology, but also a keen interest in new discoveries and in facts.  With increased emphasis upon the wonders of science, the attention given to this aspect mitigated the importance of the humanities.  This condition disturbed such writers as Charles Dickens, whose novel Hard Times depicts the threat to all subtleties with the simple acquisition of fact because mere empirical fact ignored "unquantifiable realities, subleties, and common sense," writes critic Jane Jacobs. The character of Thomas Gradgrind deals only with facts and fills the mind of children at his school with only facts, ignoring the subtleties of life.

Published before Hard Times, Mary Shelley's Frankenstein reflects many of the same concerns regarding science vs. the imagination. In his obsession with the enticements of science, Victor Frankenstein ignores his obligation to the heart and mind of the physical creature that he fashions as, horrified, he abruptly abandons him after this creature exhibits life. As he explains in his history, Victor tells Walton,

My limbs now tremble and my eyes swim with the remembrance; but then a resistless, and almost frantic, impulse urged me forward; I seemed to have lost all soul or sensation but for this one pursuit.

This scientific ambition of Victor Frankenstein also impairs his understanding of the importance of family and personal relations, and he shamlessly sacrifices his brother William, his adoptive sister Justine, beloved fiancee Elizabeth, and his dear friend Henry Clerval in order to safeguard his scientific creation.

Therefore, in composing a thesis for the dangers of scientific ambition, the student may wish to place emphasis upon the dangers of ignoring the need for nurturing the human psyche with such works of imagination as literature and music and art for mere facts or science. Alluding to the chapters in which the creature relates how much he loved listening to the DeLaceys read the classics will strengthen this argument.

Read the study guide:

Access hundreds of thousands of answers with a free trial.

Start Free Trial
Ask a Question