Comparing Frankenstein, Origin of the Species and Decent of Man
I will demonstrate in this paper how Mary Shelley's Frankenstein confirms, and at the same time contradicts Darwin's ideas presented in "The Origin of the Species" and "The Decent of Man."
Mary Shelley's Frankenstein is at once, confirming, and contradictory of Charles Darwin's scientific discoveries and views on science, nature and the relation of the individual to society. Mary Shelley confirms Darwin's ideas through Frankenstein, when Dr. Frankenstein and Darwin both reject God as the creator of human life. Although this is a major theme in both works, it is the only similar idea shared between both Darwin and Frankenstein. Darwin's understanding of nature is comparable to that of Mary Shelley; although how the individual relates to society is gravely different between the two works. One of Darwin's admiring disciples, Andrew Carnegie, the author of "The Gospel of Wealth," shows us how contradictory these ideas are in relation to each other. His ideas of inheritance and the conduct of man are in disagreement with the actions of Shelley's Dr. Frankenstein.
Throughout Darwin's works the idea of the rejection of God as creator of man prevails. He alludes to prehistoric marine Ascidian larvae, as the predecessors to the later evolved human beings we are today. This would give credit for the creation of man to the process of evolution, not to the handiwork of a Supreme Being. "Species had not been independently created, but had descended, like varieties, from other species"(Appleman, 36). Darwin is showing here what conclusions he came upon about the "Origin of the Species", in which he used science to prove his theories. He is replacing God with ideas of science, something that we see ever more increasingly in our society today. This idea of replacing God with science, is an important factor of Darwin's theory of evolution of the species, an idea that is prevalent in many other works published since his "Origin of the Species.
An important theme in Darwin's works is the rejection of God as the creator of man. Mary Shelley's Frankenstein reflects this theme as well. Dr. Frankenstein takes creating life into his own hands by going around God and, through the use of science, fashioning a creature comparable and somewhat superior to man. "My imagination was too much exalted by my first success to permit me to doubt of my ability to give life to an animal as complex and wonderful as man"(Shelley, 39). This excerpt from Frankenstein shows how the doctor refused to acknowledge God, and therefore initiated himself as the creator of the life of man. Dr. Frankenstein simply found, through science, a way to bestow life without the inclusion of a Supreme Being. By doing this, Frankenstein is rejecting God as the creator of life through the discoveries of science, an idea that we have seen in the works of Darwin as well.
Darwin thought of nature in terms of science. He...