The Most Important Element in Frankenstein
When reading a novel or watching a play, most people are deceived into believing that the plot is the most important element. Many people believe that the characters, setting, and situations simply exist to develop the plot. It can be argued, however, that the theme is the most important aspect of a given work, and that the plot exists merely to solidify the underlying messages that the author actually intends to communicate.
Theme is the most important element in Mary Shelley's novel, Frankenstein. In this novel, Victor Frankenstein's passion for scientific progress leads to the birth of a horrific monster that, in turn, seeks revenge upon Victor and his family. This is simply the plot. This plot is used to develop the themes of the potential evil inherent in technological advancement, human prejudice, and the universal desire for love and acceptance.
The novel has deservedly been named "the first true work of science fiction," alluding to the inherent absurdity of the theme of the dangers in technological advancement ("Visions of the Future, 5). Moreover, since the novel's introduction in 1808, many writers of this genre have built gripping stories around scientific and technological capabilities and the consequences of misusing them. Nevertheless, in this instance, it is Victor Frankenstein's interest in natural philosophy and chemistry that compelled him to create life and thereby "play God."
In turn, Frankenstein's being, composed of rotted corpses, obviously causes incredible evil and the consequences to man's attempt to master life and death are made evident when, the monster counteracts man's new control over life and death by becoming a constant interference in Frankenstein's life and a threat to the people that he loves. Thus, Shelley is clear in her warning about Victor Frankenstein's fault not for creating the monster, but for his neglect in taking responsibility for it and this condemnation leads to the alignment of the creators' behavior to "the parody of the Calvinist God, his self-reprobation transferring itself to the being he has created" (Goodall 20).
Furthermore, this theme continues to resound in contemporary society. In March 1997, when the Edinburgh team who created Dolly, the cloned sheep, announced the success of their experiment, Ian Wilmut as head of the research team was obliged to make the reassuring statement that they were "not Frankenstein-type people" (McKie 7). The public debate on cloning continues to be littered with references to Frankenstein. As society continuously wrestles with issues of cloning, genetic engineering, prolonging life, test-tube babies, and the like, the ramifications in this myth should remain in the forefront of that society's mind.
The human tendency to judge is quintessentially portrayed in the events that ...