Frankenstein: Reanimation Essay, Research Paper
In the story Frankenstein by Mary Shelley, a mad scientist named Victor Frankenstein is intrested in natural philosophy. One day when Victor was fifteen, he saw lightning strike an oak tree, and blast the oak tree in half, leaving nothing but a stump in its place. This event caused him to begin studying natural phenomena, especially the subjects of electricity and galvanism, two very new and exciting subjects of science in the eighteenth century. From the study of electricity, Victor soon learns the secret of reanimation, and brings a creature to life using old and rotten body parts. Many things influenced what parts of science Mary Shelley used in her story, at the time; electricity was a new thing. It was energy, and it effected non-living things in ways never before seen. The body uses electricity through the nervous system to send signals to muscles, therefore, in the eighteenth century the act of running an electric current through a dead body part caused a reaction that was considered to be ?Amazing?. Usually the muscle would just simply contract or expand, causing an arm, leg, or any other body part to seem as if it again was alive. People where facinated by this new phenomenon and often it was thought that it was magic because of the fact that it could kill, however, it also seemed to be able to restore life. Galvanism was common practice, and many people applied electric current to objects to see what the reaction was, after it was figured out that if you ran an electric current through dead tissue it would react, the association of life force and electricity was born. The uneducated people of the eighteenth century looked at this and put two and two together, and begain to believe that electricity was the key to life.
During the eighteenth century and the Industrial Revolution science, chemmistry, and the origin of life were some of the major preoccupations of society. Mary Shelly incorporated all of these popular scientific fields into her novel as a way to comment on the fascinations of her time. Also, with these new concepts, the story of Frankenstein could be, somewhat explained. This is important because it made people actually think about the concepts involved in the reanimation process. In the story Victor never shows the reader exactly what he did to bring the creature to life, however, the story does hint at the use of electricity, and so most people today are under the impression that Victor does use electricity to bring the creature to life.
Frankenstein was written as part of a ghost story writing contest between Mary Shelley, her husband Percy Shelley, and their friends. At the time that Shelley was writing Frankenstein, a newly investigated phenomenon of science seemed to suggest that reanimation was possible, that phenomenon was electricity. Electricity could affect the human body even after death, and it seemed to have the properties necessary for reanimation. This allowed for a simple explenation of the reanimation process that was criticle to the story of Frankenstein. If the creature came back to life, and could not be explained by the current knowledge that people had of science, it might seem to unbelevible, and the entire story might have been overlooked as just another science fiction.
Mary Shelley published Frankenstein anonymously because she was a woman, and she thought that the public would receive her novel more seriously if they did not know that a woman had written it.
In closing, throughout the eighteenth century electricity was used as part of the study of life, and the nature of man. It just so happened that Mary Shelley had been exposed to this before writing her novel and being able to somewhat back up the story. By doing this, it has allowed for many debates on the History of reanimation, and if the story of Frankenstein is true.