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Shelley shows how unchecked ambition and a desire for personal glory leads to Victor's unethical actions and ultimate ruin. He tells Captain Walton,

Learn from me, if not by my precepts, at least by my example, how dangerous is the acquirement of knowledge and how much happier that man is who believes his native town to be the world, than he who aspires to become greater than his nature will allow.

Victor describes knowledge as something that can be dangerous, even comparing it in one moment to a "serpent to sting [him]," because he feels that his education and knowledge is what eventually led to his downfall. He'd hoped to create a "new species" that would "bless [him] as its creator and source." He dreams that

No father could claim the gratitude of his child so completely as [he] should deserve theirs.

He becomes too proud, and his pride runs away with him—he thinks that he can play God and create a person who is, essentially, superhuman: taller, faster, stronger, and more beautiful than regular people. Therefore, he actually believes that he can create human beings even better than God does. Such pride contributes to his ultimate ruin and the deaths of almost all his family and friends.

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Mary Shelley presents a warning to readers about the pitfalls of pride and overreach by presenting us with the tortured figure of Victor Frankenstein. Frankenstein, his soul tormented when we first meet him, is involved in an epic chase after a monster who has killed his friends, family members, and fiancee.

As the story unfolds, we learn of Frankenstein's quest to create human life out of dead body parts. The story shows Frankenstein to have had an obsessive desire to make new life. This quest isolates him and threatens to ruin his health, as he works night and day. He wants to impress the world by achieving a new and astonishing scientific feat. Yet when he does so, he is appalled at the ugliness of what he has created and rejects his creature, who responds in pain by killing those Frankenstein most loves.

The story was written during a period of rapid scientific and technological advancement in Europe and warns of the consequences when humans become too proud of their own powers and try to play God.

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Was Mary Shelley attempting to warn the reader of the evils of science and/or medicine in Frankenstein?

It is a historical fact that Mary Shelley came up with the story of Frankenstein during a stay with her husband Percy Bysshe Shelley, Lord Byron, and other writers. Lord Byron challenged each of his guests to come up with a horror story for the sake of entertainment. In short, Shelley's primary purpose in writing Frankenstein was to entertain rather than to warn us or to teach us a lesson in morality.

However, Shelley built her story in a parallel to the myth of Prometheus. Prometheus is the Greek god who is said to have tried very hard to bring the light of day to humanity. In a paradoxical twist, the result of Prometheus's sacrifice is to get humans expelled from heaven. Why? Because Prometheus committed an act of treason: He tampered with orders higher than his own.

Similarly, Victor Frankenstein tampers with the laws of nature in search of a knowledge that consumes him. Sadly, he obtains the same results: His ambitious experiment backfires, and Victor's creature becomes his burden.

This being said, we can conclude that, although Shelley merely aims to tell a story, she also infuses her "scary tale" with a strong central theme and adds elements that are common of her time: The discovery of nature as a force of creation and destruction, the use of rationalism, the search for the individual power of man (rationalism vs. romanticism), and the use of science as a tool for social and intellectual progress.

Nevertheless, Shelley does not seem to condemn nor condone Victor. After all, he is simply a man who pays for his mistakes perhaps in a much harsher manner than he deserves. It is more feasible to assume that, rather than warning us from something, Shelley is exposing the reality of being human. That, no matter how great our attributes may be, we are still human. We are not perfect. We are still limited.

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Was Mary Shelley attempting to warn the reader of the evils of science and/or medicine in Frankenstein?

You will undoubtedly receive many different answers regarding your question given interpretation of an idea relies solely upon an individual's ideals and thoughts regarding a work.

That being said, here are my thoughts.

I do not necessarily believe that Shelly, in the novel Frankenstein, was warning against science or medicine. Instead, I believe that she was warning against the manipulation of nature.

Man was not created to create life; yes, he is a part in the process, but the actual giving of a life belongs to woman. In nature, is is the "job" of the woman, or female of the species, to birth the next generation. God, if you are a believer in Christian thought, created woman so as to sustain mankind. If you do not follow Christian thought, you cannot deny woman's historical and scientific place as the one responsible for giving birth (besides the seahorse).

This being said, Shelly's novel places Victor as the new "Eve". He is the one who creates a new life- as a man. Another way that one could look at Victor's mirror of Eve is through her sin- she was the one who took the apple from the tree and, therefore, allowed sin to enter the world.

Shelly, for me, seems to be speaking more against the taking away of God-given rights. Victor takes away the ability for woman to be the only one to create life and, therefore, his actions become sacrilegious.

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