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Why Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein Novel Should Be Essential Reading for Scientists

In 2018, it was 200 years since Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein was first published, making it one of humankind’s greatest iconic and influential books. Even if you’ve never heard Frankenstein in its full, the basic plot is definitely recognizable to you: Victor Frankenstein is investigating the reanimation of dead body tissue to resurrect the living, motivated by the mother’s death. His final attempt is successful, bringing to Life a horrible monster known only as “the creature.” The creature manages to elude capture and, after failing to win acceptance in society, seeks vengeance on his creator. Mary Shelley’s contributions eventually culminated in the publication of Frankenstein; a major science fiction book that continues to be extremely relevant 200 years after its publication. This cautionary tale has indeed been studied by millions of people throughout the world, and it has been translated innumerable times for the theater, the big screen, and television. It continues to be literature with a great deal to say regarding society andLife today.

Frankenstein by Mary Shelley is often regarded as the first work of science fiction. For the first time, Victor Frankenstein employs a unique blend of alchemy, mathematics, and chemistry to unravel the mysteries of generating live flesh. In comparison to Shelley’s literary creature, its yellow skin, which is translucent and dark lips are likened to the desiccated body of a corpse. Everyone, even his creator, is instantly repulsed by the creature. In the same way that Victor’s creature is both mesmerizing and revolting, so is his obsessive drive to fulfill his scientific feat. He created the monster in order to fulfill his lifelong dream of becoming a deity and overturning nature’s laws. Upon completion of the process, he is appalled by the outcome, but he has no authority over the monster-genie and cannot stop it from devouring everything he values. The procedure mirrors the Romantics’ general distrust of scientific knowledge. Romanticism has always sought to rein in the unbridled quest of scientific and technological breakthroughs through “natural philosophy” or the fields of Science, a prospect that the Enlightenment regarded as being of the utmost importance. In this light, the novel’s theme might be seen as relevant to today’s reality. The advancement of medicine and technology, as well as that of technology in general, has been impending over the years. When it comes to discussing the potential ramifications of Science, technology, and social circumstances, those who care profoundly about what Life and health represent must not shy away from discussing these issues openly. However, as science and technology advance to new heights, the unforeseen consequences of its use could have far-reaching implications for our identity as humans, the future of our globe, and how civilization develops. Frankenstein’s monster goes much further than defibrillation in the context of implications for health, medicine, and biotechnology. Artificial intelligence, Genetic engineering, transfusion, tissue engineering, robotics, bioelectronics, transplantation, virtual reality, cryopreservation, synthetic biology, and neural networks are some of the reverberations that have been identified in recent years. These are fascinating fields that deserve to be researched further. As a result, having a debate now becomes even more critical.

Science Doesn’t Cover Everything

Mary Shelley’s career as a thinker in the mid-nineteenth century was influenced by the Renaissance, a cultural movement that placed a focus on scientific study, logic, and intellect in the mid-nineteenth century. Even though she, like her husband Percy Bysshe, was indeed a Romanticism, she also stressed the importance of ecosystems and emotions in her essays and writing. The contradiction between scientific development and the “natural order of things” was a frequent topic of conversation between the two, and it is this tension that drives the plot of Frankenstein. The 1800s saw science as the apex of human progress, almost to the exclusion of all other activities. “One man’s life or death were but a small price to pay for the acquirement of the knowledge which I sought.” seaman Robert Walton writes in the fictional letter that concludes Frankenstein. Walton’s opinion is likely to be accepted by Victor Frankenstein, paradoxically. A new route must be pioneered and uncharted powers explored in order to reveal to humanity the profound wonders of creation. This is what he swears to do in the third chapter. But, as his gruesome demise shows, the search for knowledge is not without peril. After killing William Frankenstein, Victor’s monster becomes his downfall, taking the scientist on a wild goose chase towards the Polar Region, whereupon he dies of hypothermia.

The domains of artificial intelligence as well as biogenetics are stretching the limits of technology and science and unraveling obstacles. Unlike in Frankenstein, scientific and technical advances aren’t shown in Shelley’s work as solely hideous in nature. The real monster here isn’t the innovation itself so much as the indifference of the person who made it. This sarcastic similarity is often brought to the reader’s attention throughout the book. Frankenstein’s alchemical research and chemical equipment are delightfully outdated as a technique of creating life in the contemporary era of advanced science and technology like genetic engineering. However, recent technology breakthroughs, especially in the area of artificial intelligence and genetic engineering, have many parallels to the quest for scientific discovery and the threats it presents to the natural order. While development should not be feared, Shelley cautions us to be aware of the dangers that can come along with it.

Life and Death are Complex

It’s no secret that Victor Frankenstein is driven to experiment with reanimating human tissue in part because he recently lost his mother. Mary Wollstonecraft, a prominent feminist activist, died a few months after her birth from difficulties related to childbirth. Thus this was a pain she was familiar with. Shelley’s story is typically regarded as a morality tale about tampering with nature’s order of things. Shelley wrote as the practice of “galvanism,” which is the use of electricity to reanimate the dead, was becoming less popular. “I collected bones from charnel houses; and disturbed, with profane fingers, the tremendous secrets of the human frame”(McKinney, 2003). He says that “Life and death appeared to me ideal bounds, which I should first breakthrough, and pour a torrent of light into our dark world… I thought, that if I could bestow animation upon lifeless matter, I might in the process of time (although I now found it impossible) renew life where death had apparently devoted the body to corruption” (McKinney, 2003).

When it pertains to prolonging the lives of individuals who are in deep, the potential to be “capable of bestowing animation upon lifeless matter “is something we are today faced with. Many people have contemplated the meaning of this adage, and their conclusions have varied. Death, according to some, is not a destination but rather a journey (Parnia, 2013). But there are many who believe that because we can, it does not imply we should. There have been discussions on whether or not Life exists at all. Two prominent physicians, William Lawrence and John Abernethy engaged in a heated dispute at the Royal College of Surgeons about the essence of Life before Mary Shelley published Frankenstein. Questions such as how to describe Life and what distinguishes living bodies from dead or artificial ones were raised throughout this discussion (Marsh, 2015). For Abernethy, the existence of Life was not dependent on how a person was built but rather existed as a homogeneous material or a vital principle,” superadded” to the flesh (Marsh, 2015). When he faced Lawrence, he thought this view was absurd and saw Life as nothing more than the aggregate of all the bodily processes at work. Lawrence’s beliefs were deemed radical since they implied that the soul- widely equated with the vital element, did not exist whatsoever. (Marsh, 2015). Despite Lawrence’s public denials, he was obliged to remove the book from which he had written his courses and quit his hospital appointment. He was later reinstated, though. Mary Shelley’s novel Frankenstein drew inspiration from the occurrence, which demonstrated how contentious Life and death had become. However, Shelley makes a case for not meddling with nature’s plans in Frankenstein rather than arguing that Life starts and stops at a specific time. Victor Frankenstein calls his mother’s death an “irreparable evil,” yet in the novel, Shelley accepts it as a normal part of Life (McKinney, 2003).

The Novel can be used as a Framework for Examining the Ethics and Morality of Scientists

Frankenstein is not just the first creation story to use the scientific study as its technique, but it also establishes a framework for evaluating the research’s ethics and morals narratively. While artistic adaptations such as movies and films, as well as literary references, have sprouted from the book over the past two hundred years, the prevailing eruption of citations to Frankenstein in context to ethics, scientific knowledge, and technology is on the horizon and thus can be used as a method of investigating what is moral or ethical in the scientific discipline. By its essence, Science is a tool for discovering and testing new ideas, as well as a catalyst for paradigm shifts. Additionally, Science is associated with advancements in understanding and knowledge of our environment and ourselves. Despite the fact that questioning is a fundamental premise of Science, there is an inherent conviction that Science will make our lives better, as seen by words like “advances” and “progress.” To prohibit people like Victor Frankenstein from carrying out his garret experimentation, precautions, protocols, and institution permissions are used by panels trained in the horrifying and countless examples of immoral experimentations done in the name of research. These safeguards, however, are limited. It is hard to foresee all of the ramifications of our present and future development of science and technology. We don’t need to hypothesize on the possible ramifications of, say, the development of a lab-created self-replicating creature because we can look at unintended consequences of drugs like thalidomide and debates over gene therapies. It’s disconcerting to feel this tension, to acknowledge that unforeseen effects do occur.

Healthcare has improved dramatically as a result of advances in science and technology. Because of numerous scientific treatments that were unknown just a few decades ago, many people are still alive today. Our thanks go out to the medical researchers who came up with the ideas and conducted the experiments necessary to confirm the medications’ efficacy.

There are important concerns about what it means to be human, as well as the ramifications of those issues. Beyond the bounds of humanity, scientists must consider the prospect of sentient nonhumans and consider problems with which the next generation compete to get entry into scientific fields or even medical schools. It’s not just about gaining an understanding of our pasts and civilizations that can be gained by learning and discussing masterpieces and creativeness like Frankenstein and sharing ideas with people whose expertise lies beyond the clinic as well as laboratory, including artists and idealists. It can also help scientists probe, evaluate, and discover what makes us human. As a result, they will be more equipped to navigate the ethical and moral minefield that is modern science and medicine.

Reading the Novel will provide the Spotlight on the Dangers of Restrained Science

As a society, we extol the virtues of Science and encourage people to pursue it as a worthy goal. It’s vital to keep in mind, too, that despite their positive implications, knowledge and possibilities aren’t inherently beneficial. Even if additional knowledge and alternatives aren’t inherently damaging, their application in technology has the ability to do so. There’s a fine line to walk between technological advancements and acting like you’re God. Discoveries made in Science lay the groundwork for future technological advancements, so their ramifications must be carefully studied. However, this has not always been the case. Instead, Science and technology have progressed at a reckless pace without regard for the long-term repercussions. Frankenstein, and the broader field of research, technology, and civilization as a whole, disputes the assumption that Science should indeed be studied only for the sake of increasing what is understood and what is achievable. To pursue science and technology at any cost has fatal effects, as Victor Frankenstein shows in his novel Frankenstein.

When it comes to Science, Victor Frankenstein epitomizes the idea of unbridled experimentation. From an early age, he is captivated by Science’s power and potential. It doesn’t matter that alchemy doesn’t hold up to scrutiny; Victor becomes fascinated by the idea of using Science to one’s advantage (McKinney, 2003). When he discovers how to bring life to inanimate objects, he turns into a maniac, laboring nonstop to complete his invention at any cost. There’s no time for him to evaluate the ramifications of his conduct (McKinney, 2003). Because of Victor’s failure to stop and think before he acted, several people perished towards the end of the novel.

In a representation of the real world the creator of the atomic bomb, Robert Oppenheimer, was notoriously torn about his participation in the project (Hijiya, 2000). There’s no doubt that scientists working on the Manhattan Project were aware of the devastation that atomic weapons could cause. Even though the United States utilized nuclear weapons to finish World War II, the morality of the employment of such weapons remains controversial today (McMillan, 2018). Scientists and politicians engaged in the development and subsequent deployment of the atomic bomb, in contrast to Frankenstein, carefully studied the repercussions of their decisions, but they lacked the insight to see what was ahead. As a result of the development of nuclear weapons in the era of the Cold War, both the United States and the Soviet Union held substantial stockpiles of these weapons. Furthermore, with tens of hundreds of nuclear weapons in the hands of numerous countries, we now face the possibility of a horrific nuclear war. Even since its inception, the destructive power of this technology has only increased; nuclear weapons may yet have unintended repercussions.

Research and development of franken-technologies like the atomic bomb continue unabated, raising ethical and practical concerns about their use. In the future, technological breakthroughs such as artificial intelligence, weather engineering, and even more powerful weapons are all feasible, and if not carefully addressed, might have terrible consequences. Despite the fact that works like Frankenstein and many others warn about the dangers of going too far with technology, Franken-technologies will continue to be developed in the future for both scientific and personal reasons. Hopefully, humanity will be able to deal with the issues and threats that new technology will bring. Because of this, scientists will be able to empathize and grasp the hazards of constrained Science or how far researchers should go in scientific study after reading the story. When it comes to examining the cliché of the crazy scientist, Frankenstein is an excellent resource. Using this stereotype, people will be more aware of the dangers of conducting unmonitored research and how society’s opinion of science and researchers has evolved through time. If we think of stereotypes in bioethical terms, we have to address the challenges that arise as a result of scientific breakthroughs and technological advancements. Students studying health sciences may find Frankenstein useful in igniting and focusing discourse on these issues.

In Healthcare and Research, the Novel will Aid in the Understanding of Compassion and Empathy

Instead of focusing on the difference between humans and nonhumans, this method might go deeper into questions about the origins of life, the obligation of scientists to protect their creations, and the role of these creatures in society. Only a blind person treats Frankenstein’s monster with kindness in the story, and the monster doesn’t comprehend why his maker and community hate him. By expressing his wish to be welcomed, the creature demonstrates that he has feelings. He expresses his desire for a female partner, pledging to vanish quietly if Dr. Frankenstein succeeds in creating one and threatening to cause chaos if he fails. However, Dr. Frankenstein has doubts about the experiment and only takes on this second creature as an afterthought out of guilt. This technique can be used to examine the doctor-patient connection in addition to scientists’ duties to their creations. Compassionate care demands empathy for those who are in misery, and also attempts to relieve that suffering; as a result, the narrative can be used to discuss both of these ideas in significant detail, and the book can be utilized to do so.

The monster is clearly in need of fair and equal treatment, yet Victor Frankenstein is unable to demonstrate pity for it or offer it with empathetic care, despite the creature’s obvious need. Despite the monster’s clear need for good treatment, he attempts everything he can to escape these obligations. A medical professional who has read the novel will have a greater grasp of how critical it is for them to establish a connection between both the psychological themes of the novel as well as their own perception of bioethical commitment and how compassion is essential to both. Investigating the creature’s pain can help researchers understand three professional capabilities that they will need to develop in their careers as healthcare professionals: the ability to interpret the patients’ circumstances, effective communication, and the capacity to offer their full attention and care. If students and doctors plan an argument in which they act out both characters’ feelings, wants, and duties, it can be quite beneficial to both of them in terms of the medical industry. Additionally, students might consider instances in which prejudice or segregation has caused them to feel isolated from their peers. They can also consider societal prejudices and ways to combat them. This is due to the fact that the novel raises certain essential issues, such as responsibility, medical ethics, and compassionate treatment in the field of health care. A consideration of these subjects can also facilitate a better understanding of views toward scientific knowledge and bioethics from the aesthetic perspective -feelings they provoke their usefulness or harm, and their impacts on the environment and society, as well as on families.


The novel by Mary Shelley can be a useful tool for delving into themes such as scientific study, the essence of science, and biomedical ethics difficulties, among others. Aside from that, the medical literature on Frankenstein was mostly concerned with science and the psychology of the researcher, rather than with the creature he made or with the ethical implications of his research. Although it has been two centuries since its initial publication, this book is seldom out of date or irrelevant. It continues to be an important tool for contemplating one’s own and other people’s limits, the relationship between curiosity and scientific advancement, and the scientist’s responsibilities in scientific endeavors. People in the health sciences, including professionals and students, must consider the implications of breakthroughs in biology and medicine research from a rigorous bioethical perspective. The rapid advancement of new innovations, as well as their influence on human beings, necessitates a thorough bioethical examination, as well as a thorough consideration of the obligations of researchers and healthcare professionals in their deployment. As an effective instrument for introspection, the humanities, and particularly literature, provide a valuable resource because the characters and storylines enable us to describe current issues which appeared in a variety of contexts, rather than restricting the discussion to a single contemporary situation.


Hijiya, J. A. (2000). The “Gita” of J. Robert Oppenheimer. Proceedings of the American Philosophical Society, 144(2), 123–167.

Marsh, S. (2015). Romantic Medicine, the British Constitution, and Frankenstein. Keats Shelley Journal, 64(1), 105–122.

McKinney, M. J. (2003). Grammardog Guide to Frankenstein. In Google Books. Grammardog LLC.

McMillan, P. J. (2018). The Ruin of J. Robert Oppenheimer: And the Birth of the Modern Arms Race. In Google Books. JHU Press.

Parnia, S. (2013). Erasing Death: The Science That Is Rewriting the Boundaries Between Life and Death.


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