The Struggle Between Science and Religion in Frankenstein, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, and Metropolis
From Frankenstein to Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde to Metropolis, the mad scientist is one of the modern world's most instantly recognizable and entertaining cultural icons. Popular culture's fascination with demented doctors, crazed clinicians, and technologically fanatical fiends have dominated the major motifs of popular literature and film for most of the 20th century and this fascination will continue into the 21st century. An
archetypal outcast, the mad scientist represents all that modern culture holds mysterious and fascinating, intriguing and sinful, and, to say the least, romantic. Popular culture has completely desensitized the blasphemous, heretical, epileptic shocks of
tampering with "things that should not be tampered with" and has made them, instead, into common, everyday occurrences. The Romantic struggle between theology and science still wages today--only today's theology has become a religion of materialism and the worship of the monetary system; and through mass media this neo-theology has appealed to societies appetite and captivated an audience desirable by any deity.
When we think of 'Mad Science,' the modern, stereotypical, Hollywood vision of mad science floods the mind-of Dr. Frankenstein (Frankenstein); Dr. Jekyll (The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde); and Rotwang (Metropolis); along with many others-and for good reason. Many of these characters we know by heart, either from literature, theater, or film, while many others we've hardly heard of and are thus marked mundane and
unimportant in our minds. Mad science is synonymous with 'the insane scientist' who blew up his lab, but is ecstatic about it because something actually worked and he didn't kill himself; who erratically tries to explain his theories while tugging out large quantities of his hair, who's depraved cackle resounds after every other sentence or so, and randomly says words that don't exactly make sense in context to what he is explaining;
who, insanely obsessed and emotionally violent, reanimates dead flesh and then leaves it (the dead flesh) to wander off into a local village to kill countless numbers of citizens. All are examples of scientists who, though labeled as mad, are curious
seekers of information who hope to increase knowledge and understanding, or who are working under the guise of the salvation of a few (when really, mad scientists are really
working for no one but themselves) but eventually becomes the damnation of all. This Lovecraftian theme is seemingly reminiscent of all mad science:
The most merciful thing in the world...is the inability of the human mind to correlate all [of] its contents. We live on a placid island of ignorance in the midst of black seas of infinity, and it was not meant that we voyage far. The sciences, each straining in its own direction, have hitherto harmed us little; but some...