Assignment: 2nd Lecture and Reading Summary

I wanted to thank everyone for being on time and ready to learn some more about Science Fiction and Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein.

Above, I’ve embedded a video of the second lecture. It covers the continuation of the Mary Shelley lecture started in the first video lecture and it concludes with the overview of the list of science fiction definitions.

Before our class on Feb. 19, add a comment to this post of at least 250 words that summarizes the lecture and your reading of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. Remember, you only need to show best effort. Write about what you think is most important from the lecture. Write about how you might describe what you’ve read in Frankenstein to a friend. The goal is to look back at your notes, think about them, and write brief summaries of the lecture and reading. You should see if your comment posts correctly. If in doubt, reload the page and confirm that it posts. If not, copy-and-paste your writing again and click “Post Comment” and then confirm.

Some reminders:

  • Make notes of your reading in your notebook. The kinds of things that I keep notes on of my readings include: character names, plot points, settings, words and their definitions, etc.
  • If you want to read and then make notes after reading, you might write a summary of your reading by volume, chapter, etc.
  • Again, I’m not looking for a particular way of your keeping notes as long as you are making notes in some way that are useful to you.
  • Aim to have Frankenstein completed before class on Feb. 19 when we meet next.
  • If you have any questions, email me at jellis at

17 thoughts on “Assignment: 2nd Lecture and Reading Summary”

  1. In our last lecture we dove into the personal life of Mary Shelley and explored the storytelling approach to her work “Frankenstein or the modern Prometheus”. We spoke and visioned society during Mary’s life time. Our Professor explained how Mary and Percy’s marriage was that of a modern celebrity couple (mostly due to their poet status). It is clear that Mary comes from a family who where opposed to society’s structure. This was due to her Mother Mary Wollstonecraft being a feminists and believing in woman and their education. Her father William Godwin was also clearly curious of society structure, his work “Things as they are” supports this point. It is also revealed that there is much tragedy that revolves around Mary Shelley including suicides and affairs. To me, Mary’s personal life is like a perfect example of an awakening or rather enlightenment taking place during the 1800s. The reading has been exciting, dark, exaggerated and often leaves me with much anticipation. It has been incredible to see how broken Victor has become over the last chapters. This man has clearly lost his mind and is barely keeping it together. He has no escape his dreams, family, friends and even his own vision have been damaged from his creation. Its hard for me to sympathize with Victor as I can only see him as a fool. He runs from his problems and is unable to confront them ultimately leading him to more destruction. He nearly confirms the true murderer of William and helplessly watches as poor innocent Justine is verbally beat down and is forced to confessed the murder of William. He finds excuses not to interfere and reveal his mistakes. There is a satisfaction that comes when the creature finally confronts him and yet still in an opportunity to answer so many questions he responses with violence and rage. The creature eventually begins his tale and we learn of how educated and enlightened he has become. His tale is more of a path to destiny rather than one of growth. Ultimately his request is to have a mate one that Victor knows he can not fulfill. Describing the story of Frankenstein to a friend would be intense. This story is known as Epistolary tale meaning that it is told in letters. Within those letters there are narrative frames which may cause confusion. To overcome this I would show them the diagram from my notes so that they could understand the structure of the overall story. Explaining this story to a friend would also require a lot of exaggeration in tone and hand gestures in order to create the same effect of anticipation that Mary creates in her writing. I would explain that although a lot of the themes and storytelling seem generic they were extremely revolutionary for their time. Finally, I would recommended they read an audio version of the book so they could really focus on the story and engage in the passion and emotions of Victor Frankenstein. NOTE: If any of my classmates would like to connect with me in regards to notes and other class work, feel free to contact me at

  2. In the previous lecture we began with the review of our first lecture on “Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus.” We covered the topic of Mary Shelley’s background regarding who her parents were, and what works of literature they produced. It was explained in this lecture this to be the first work of science fiction based upon the characteristics of this novel. Mentioned in the lesson was contextually the events that occurred surrounding the inspiration of this work of literature, and how and when it was published. It was also noted the arguments that this piece addresses regarding modern science and ethically how it might impact society. We then covered that this novel is an epistolary form of literature, and how each character’s story interrelates in this style of storytelling.
    Continuing from chapter seventeen this week we are coming to the completion of the Creators story and the reaction and feelings of Victor to it. Victor is presented with the request of the Creator to provide him with a mate otherwise he will destroy everyone in Victors life. Victor leaves for England but ends up heading to Scotland with his friend Clerval on a journey and decides to do work remotely in that region. Nearing completion of the Creators mate Victor decides to destroy it for fear of the impact it might have. Enraged the Creator kills his friend Clerval and threatens Victor that he will continue to kill till everyone is gone in his life, which to a tragic conclusion happens.

  3. During our last lecture, we had a brief history lesson on the main author for “Frankenstien”. It was a really cool lecture, learning about someone you had no idea about before hand is an interesting experience. We learned about where Mary Wollstonecraft grew up, how she got into writing and the struggles she faced while trying to get Frankenstien published out into the public. Hearing how this story might have launched the start of science fiction brought the story, at least for me, a little bit more into reality. I didn’t know there was a type of science used specifically for science fiction stories. Pseudoscience is not real science, but it’s science written in a certain way to make it seem like it could potentially be real in our real life. As I continued reading the rest of the book, I did notice where this type of science fit in and it made the book a bit more interesting for me. I would describe this book to a friend as a science horror type novel. Having a man made monster chase you down and eventually kill you for creating you sounds like something a lot of people who are fans of both genres will enjoy. The stories a lot darker than films make it out to be, I’m assuming that’s why they cut it out of most films due to rating systems. But overall, this was a well written story about a monster and the man who created him.

  4. In the beginning of the lecture, Professor Ellis discusses the first science fiction novel, Frankenstein, and its author, Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley. We learned about Mary’s History and family background. Her parents being two of the most famous radicals, her mother pushing equal rights and education for women. Her father who gained fame for his novels about governments effecting morals and happiness and other works that discuss the progression of humanity with rationality. After Mary’s mother died, her father became closer to her and he decided to carry on his wife’s ideals by educating Mary and her sister. As a result of this, Mary earned an education in an era where women were deemed not to have on, and thus resulted in her work of Frankenstein which she published later in life. Many scholars today agree that Frankenstein was the birth of science fiction storytelling. We also learned about how this novel had many implementations of science and technology, that no other novels had during this time period. For example, it was the first novel to include the scientific method, first to present a human problem that pivots with science and technology. To summarize the second half of the reading, the monster that Victor created has already taken the lives of two family members. Victor is now overwhelmed with grief, despair, and guilt. To overcome these feelings, Victor decides to explore different areas and marvel at natures beautiful sceneries. This is important because, nature has a strong influence on Victor. Nature makes him either joyful or depressed, his relationship with nature is significant, mainly because of his creation’s ties to nature. The monster soon finds Victor on a glacier and convinces him to have a talk. The monster explains to victor what he’s been up to ever since he left Victors home. He explains how he learned a language, how to read, how people are scared away by his presence, why he killed victors’ younger brother. The monster realizes that he is very lonely and can’t cope with the fact human beings will never accept his kind into this world. The monster convinces victor to create another being just like him, a female version this time. The monster tells Victor, that he has an obligation towards the monster for abandoning him. And that if he creates this female version of his kind, he will leave victor alone and move to South America with his new mate.

  5. In our Feb. 5 lecture, we discussed Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley’s Frankenstein as being the first example of science fiction (a term which didn’t exist at the time the book was written in 1818). Discussed was the fact that Frankenstein draws on many generic elements, like Gothic lit., mythology and “travel narratives,” (a more popular genre of lit. at the time). Shelley’s book was also in part built on important ideas arising from the Age of Enlightenment, the Scientific Revolution, the Industrial Revolution and Romanticism. Also discussed were the “narrative frames” in which Frankenstein was written: The reader receives the tale as a voyeur of correspondence (it is an epistolary novel) between a scientific explorer, Walton, who is pursuing an explanation for/ the origins of the magnetism that drives compasses, and his sister, who is back home in England. Part of Walton’s letters describe a chance run-in in the arctic with a stranded man who describes himself as (formerly) an ambitious scientist (Victor Frankenstein) whose initial attraction to alchemy later led to a successful education in the modern natural sciences and a prolific enthusiasm for learning that culminated in his creation of a rudimentary, living, human man. The seeds for Shelley’s story were born in a friendly competition among her creative friends to see who could come up with the most entertaining horror story. Hers was the best received, and the site of their competition (Lake Geneva, Switzerland) would become the backdrop to the full story that was to be written afterward.
    The rudimentary man (“the creature”) is feared and shunned by Frankenstein and everyone else who comes in contact with him. Initially in awe of all of the qualities that make Man good, the creature later becomes despondent when he realizes that, while he has been created to feel and want the same things that other humans feel, he will never develop any meaningful connection with other human beings, who universally fear him. He takes this frustration out on his creator, as he methodically, though seemingly arbitrarily during fits of rage that become more frequent, kills those that are close to Frankenstein. He offers an ultimatum to the scientist: create another creature to be his companion, or accept the consequences of the monster’s anguish as he takes out his anger on the human race, starting with everyone that Frankenstein loves. Frankenstein ultimately abandons his initial idea to agree to the creature’s offer, deciding it in humanity’s interest to limit the number of these unpredictable, powerful creatures that roam the earth, and spends the rest of his life chasing the creature in the hopes of killing it. This is not before the creature kills (directly or indirectly) everyone that Frankenstein loves. As Frankenstein dies during his quest to kill what he’s created, the monster laments his creator’s death and resigns to commit suicide, vowing to never let another creature like himself be created, both with the understanding that humanity should not be exposed to these powerful and dangerous creations and with the understanding that his own endless agony should never be shared by another being like himself.

  6. In our last lecture class we discussed the term Whiggish history, meaning the idea historical process is always onward and upward. Samuel R. Delany, an award winning African American Science Fiction writer who has written books like, Dahlgren, and Nova. We then went on to discuss Mary Shelley’s life and how she wrote Frankenstein. Mary Shelley was the daughter of two famous radicals, Mary Wollstonecraft an advocate for women’s rights and William Godwin minister turn atheist. Mary Shelley was born in 1797, while giving birth her mother died, leaving her to the care of her father. William thought it was best to educate Mary. Mary later married Percey Bysshe Shelley.
    While visiting Switzerland, Percey and Mary and a few friends thought it was entertaining to come up with their own ghost stories. It was at that time that Mary Shelley began writing her novel Frankenstein, Or the Modern Prometheus. Frankenstein is to be known as an Epistolary tale, which means to be told by letters. In the novel Frankenstein, it begins with Captain Walton writing to his sister Margret about his travels at sea, when one day him and his crew discovers a man floating in the water, hanging on to dear life who happens to be Victor Frankenstein. Captain Walton nurses Victor back to good health. Victor sees Captain Walton passion for discovery and begins to tell him is life tale in hopes that Captain Walton may not go down the same path as he did. Victor was born in Naples, Italy to a wealthy family. As a boy Victor was always interested in reading and the study of chemistry. In later years Victor left his family to attend the University of Ingolstadt in Germany. At the university Victor studies chemistry and other sciences. He developed a secret technique that brought life to the nonliving. Victor began to work on his creation. After months of dedicated work, Victor creates the creature, while testing out his technique the creature come alive. In such shock and fear Victor runs and abandons the creature. In conclusion to the novel, the creature asks Victor to create a mate for him. Victor does so, but in fear of what might happen to the world in result of creating such horrors, Victor destroys the mate. Angry by this the creature seeks revenge on Victor, being there throughout his whole life, killing everyone he loves. Victor dies and the creature feels remorse for his creator. I would describe Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein as a dark book. I also understand how she included science in the making of the creature.

  7. In our last class, we discussed Mary Shelley’s background and the events that lead to her creating Frankenstein. Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley (1797-1851) was born the daughter of two famous radicals of their era. Her father, William Godwin, was a minister turned atheist that argued against the government at the time, and that the individual’s rationality held the ability to progress humanity without the presence of an imposing/tyrannical government. Then her mother, Mary Wollstonecraft, who fought for equal rights and accessibility to education for women.
    Continuing in Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, the monster is born with a “blank slate for a mind,” using rationality, trial and error to educate itself. Convinced it’s education was enough to bleed into a human family, their rejection left him with a desire for vengeance against Victor. After killing Victor’s younger brother William, the monster had requested it’s creator make it a mate in exchange for the safety of Victors’ remaining loved ones, otherwise he would never be rid of the monsters’ wrath. This desire is rational to the beast as it believes it’s owed such for being abandoned by its creator. Victor bends to the monsters’ will and constructs a new beast in Scotland, only to destroy it before bestowing it life out of fear for the consequences their relationship would wreak upon the world. This in turn, enrages the monster and leads to his killing of Victor’s best friend, Clerval, as well as his wife, Elizabeth. Victor chases his creation to the arctic to eventually meet his own demise, and in a turn of bitter irony the creature laments the death of its creator after being so driven to destroy his life.

  8. In the last lecture, we spoke about the history of Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley and how her significant work of Frankenstein came to be. I didn’t get to mention this during the discussion, but I think the tragedies taken place during Mary Shelley’s life had a big impact on her literary work such as Frankenstein. Being someone who has seen life and death on multiple occasions (through her miscarriages, the loss of her mother, etc) she seems to have incorporated this theme of life, death, and resurrection into her fictional tale of Frankenstein; I find this fascinating. While discussing the life of Mary Shelley, we covered how much of an activist her mother was. She believed that women were just as good as men, and the inequality amongst them was due to the lack of access to education women had. Frankenstein was the first novel to make a character choose between alchemy and science. It explores not only the morality and the ethics of human use of technology and science, but also it’s outcomes.
    Frankenstein begins in the eyes of Walton, a man on a journey on the sea who stumbles upon Victor Frankenstein, the protagonist of the story. Seeing how passionate Walton is to explore the unknown, Victor begins to tell his tale of the creature he created when studying galvanism. After accomplishing bringing life to something all own his own, he becomes mortified by the sight of his creation. In fear, Victor abandons the creature, sparking anger in the creature. It seeks a lover like the humans around him; it seeks for a companion and orders Victor to create one so he will no longer be given the urge to kill. In chapters 9-10, the creature compares Victor to God, subtly blaming Victor for how it has acted. Victor complies to the creation of another, however, he murders the second creature before it is even completed. This act was out of fear of what would come with two monsters joined together, repopulating.

  9. The lecture on 2/5/20 begins with an introduction to the term “whiggish history”, which is explained as the idea that the historical process is onward and upward and that developments are always advancing. Whiggish history supports the idea that society must always move toward enlightenment and is influenced by the Protestant belief that if one is successful it is because one has worked hard and as a result receives God’s favor, and that failure is a result of not working hard enough to please God. Whiggish history supports the advancement of the sciences and its influence is apparent in the ways Europeans of the 18th century continually worked to expand their minds by obtaining knowledge that they believed would ultimately benefit society.

    The influence of the desire to better oneself of 18th-century society is depicted in the book Frankenstein or the Modern Prometheus by Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley. Shelley, the controversial child of Mary Wollstonecraft and William Godwin who both were radical thinkers of their era, was a very liberal thinker that successfully published the first science fiction novel and in it portrayed some of these beliefs. Her novel was the first to allow a character the choice between the old-world ways of alchemy or modern-day sciences. In the novel, Victor Frankenstein chooses to abandon alchemy and embrace biology and chemistry instead. He uses his newfound knowledge to create a life which even by today’s standards is controversial. His choice like that of Prometheus leads to undesirable consequences that ultimately cost him his life and that of his loved ones.

    Frankenstein or the Modern Prometheus is an epistolary novel in which Shelley tells the story utilizing letters written by its characters. The main characters are Walton, an explorer that encounters V. Frankenstein floating in the ocean while on a voyage that if successful would grant him great fame, V. Frankenstein, a scientist that turns from alchemy to science in pursuit of success, and the monster, a nameless being created by V. Frankenstein that desires to be accepted by society. In the novel, Walton has selfishly sacrificed members of his crew in pursuit of glory but spins it to seem that he has society’s interest in mind as well, Frankenstein in the name of science has selfishly created a being that he has abandoned into the world, and the monster has committed heinous acts which he justifies by placing blame on mankind’s rejection of him.

    More than just telling a story I believe Shelley meant to inspire a conversation regarding the negative consequences that can result from advancement and technology if not handled responsibly and ethically. The death of Walton’s crew members demonstrates the disastrous consequences of getting in over your head without fulling understanding the risks involved, Frankenstein losing his loved ones as a result of his obsession and then his lack of responsibility again demonstrates the need to thoroughly evaluate decisions, and the monsters ultimate fate in remaining alone demonstrates the negative effects of acting hastily. It is interesting how the story ends with its main characters stuck in the middle of nowhere. Without trying to find too deep a meaning in Shelley’s Frankenstein, I blame Victor for the death of his loved ones as he could have handled things more responsibly and I sympathize with the monster for having to experience the negativity that comes with being different and misunderstood within a society.

  10. A summary of the last class of Science Fiction covered the story of Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley (born 1797 died 1851 at the age of 53) her parents were radical parents. Mary’s mother fought for the rights of women to have an Education in her book “A Vindication of the rights of women” one of Mary’s arguments was wouldn’t it be beneficial if women too had and education? Mary’s father William Godwin was a minster turned atheist “Enquiry Concerning Political Justice and its Influence on Morals and Happiness” written in 1793 wrote another book titled Things as they are 1794.
    William Godwin and his daughter Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley as well as her half-sister became very close after her mother died of blood poising and the father Mr. William Godwin carried out the mother’s legacy. William Godwin vowed to give his daughters an education.
    The reason we are reading Frankenstein because it’s the first novel to have a character to make a choice between Alchemy and the Scientific method. First trying Alchemy and that didn’t work then he moved on to the scientific method.
    Now the creature that was created had a mind which was like a blank state he abandons his creature. Uses reason and observation to learn how to survive and he convinces refugees to take him in because the way the creator treated him. Frankenstein later convinces his creator to make him a mate, a female, but this didn’t work once Victor realizes the mate would have free will and reason. So, he destroys the female before giving her life.
    We also discussed the definition of Science Fiction and the proper usage of the term like SF. In addition to this we discussed the improper use of the term Science Fiction ie. Sci-Fi and Sciffy.

  11. During our last lecture we went over more background information of Mary Shelley’s novel Frankenstein. We learned that she had been well educated being mostly tutored by her father. Shelley was the daughter of two radicals. Her mother, Mary Wolfstonecraft, was a writer, philosopher, and advocate of women’s rights. Her father, William Godwin, was also a writer and minister turned atheist. It was also mentioned that Frankenstein is an epistolary novel. Meaning, it is a story through letters. In this case the story is being told by the accounts of Walton and Ceville. The narrative frames are as follows: Waltons intro; Victor’s tale; Creature’s accounts; and circling back to Walton’s concluding and the Creature’s lament.

    More than half way through the novel and I’m really enjoying the imagery of the sublime Shelley writes during Victor’s hike up Mont Blanc (not sure if that’s the correct mountain??). The way she describes his ascent and how all of the nature around him at the same time both invokes and distracts from his feeling about the troubles that await from him back in Geneva.

    To take a step back in the novel I found Victor’s dedication and madness to his science to be somewhat inspiring. Having an idea of an end goal and spending every waking hour striving to achieve it. To create life. I feel like it must have been similar to what Shelley was feeling when she was competing against the other writers. She must’ve experienced that level of stress to write about dedication to one’s art so thoroughly.

  12. The lecture covered an overview of Mary Shelley and her life and how the story Frankenstein was fabricated. It also covered a brief overview of the story Frankenstein and more specifically, the characters in the story. Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein is a perfect representation of consequences that take place if you do not take responsibility for your actions. That is how I would describe the story to a friend. The story demonstrates the horrific events that can occur due to your own actions. The story begins with a character named Walton who saves a scientist, named Victor Frankenstein from death by inviting him to board his ship. Frankenstein then begins to tell Walton his story. Frankenstein has found a way to create life from inanimate matter consisting of old body parts and strange chemicals. He puts them all together to form one huge creature. The creature is drastically larger than a typical human and is hideous. He is referred to as a monster. He is created with a clean slate for a mind, like a newborn baby and must learn to do every basic thing a human does, including walking, talking, communicating, and so on. Terrified of his creation, Frankenstein runs for his life and abandons his creation, leaving the creature to fend for himself. No matter where the creature goes, people are terrified of him and chase him away. Infuriated with his creator, the creature manages to find him and kill his loved ones as revenge. He even frames a loved one for the murder of another. Eventually, Frankenstein and the creature are in the arctic, chasing each other around on dog sleds. Frankenstein dies after telling Walton his story. The story covers many important topics such as responsibility, abandonment, society, and so on.

  13. In our last lecture, we discussed the background of Mary Shelley and what lead to the creation of her famous novel, Frankenstein. We went in depth about Mary Shelley’s family and how she was the daughter of two famous radicals of their era. Mary Wollstonecraft was the mother of Mary and she was an activist that fought for women’s rights. Also, William Godwin was her father and he was a political philosopher that fought against society’s status quo. After the death of Mary’s mother in childbirth, her father made it his duty to educate his daughters. In a time where education was not attainable for women, Mary Shelley had already a head start which ultimately leads to her work, Frankenstein. In the lecture, it is mentioned that Frankenstein was the first work of science fiction and the first novel to have characters that have a choice between alchemy and science. Furthermore, it was the first novel to present human problems that pivot on science and technology. Frankenstein is an epistolary novel, which uses letters written from the characters to tell the story. The story begins with Walton writing letters to his sister while he is on a voyage but then he comes across Victor Frankenstein. As Walton and Victor Frankenstein become closer on the voyage, Victor begins to tell his tale in hopes to help Captain Walton from heading down the same road. Victor talks about how his love for science led to his creation of a being that he immediately rejected due to its disgusting figure. Now that the creature is left stranded it learns to survive by using inductive and deductive reasoning. The monster realizes that it has emotions similar to human beings and it too wants to be loved by others. This leads to the monster requesting Victor that he should create a mate to be his forever companion or Victor will face the consequences. Victor goes through with it and creates a new being, only to destroy it after the fact due to the fear of having two of these creatures roaming the earth. Aggravated by Victor’s decision the monster takes his anger out on Victor’s family by killing everyone he loves.

  14. The Class started with the good advice of using the Post Crossing. This way you can have access to different audiences that force you as a writer to adapt to the personality, the social background, political and education of the receiving person who is exchanging postcards with us. I want to remark that I liked the idea and will implement it during my vacations. The Mary Wollstone Shelley’s (1797-1851) book called Frankenstein, the Gothic classic of the literature who reflect the thought that born from a huge variety of movement of the human way of thinking of the era. You can feel the ideas of the age of enlightenment, the scientific revolution, the industrial revolution, and the romanticism. All those ideas are mixed and reflected inside of the book that can feel the inspiration of the book as the famous Jewish story of the Golem.
    The book started the story around a guy who is seeking to uncover the mysteries of the world and life. The first attempt at achieving his goal was through the pseudoscience Alchemy and find it was dead-end. Then, he decided only science can be the answer to the questions that he is trying to solve. Somehow, he left the past represented by the alchemy and put his sight into the future represented by the science. Victor constructs a large creature that looks like a large man. After that, he himself horror and disgust at what he had made and abandon him. The creature results in being capable of uses reasoning and learning. And, he learns to survive, to speak, to read. This showed a highly developed creature with a high brain capacity. The creature was angry with humanity for how he had been treated and chose vengeance against his creator

  15. Frankenstein is the first example of SF. It’s a science saturated novel. The plot hinges on the anatomy, chemistry, etc. It’s the first novel that has each main character, all scientist in their own regard, choose between alchemy and science. It imagines what the future could be with science of Mary Shelley’s time via problems that pivots between science and technology. The story is told through letters between Victor and Walton, as this is happening there are narrative frames that give the reader a place in this gothic novel. It was originally published autonomously in 1818 under the name “The Modern Prometheus”
    Victor Frankenstein turns away from pseudoscience and alchemy to science that brings life. He abandons the creature he created after realizing it was a mistake to create a “monster” with a mind, even if it was a blank slate. The creature tries to fit in the world it is now introduced to by using inductive reasoning, deductive reasoning, and rationalization to solve the problems he faced with. Angered that the world hates it, the creature finds and demands that Victor makes him a mate. Victor creates but ultimately kills the creature’s mate. Enraged the creature kills Victor’s friend William, as Victor runs away. Later Victor gets married to Elizabeth, but the creature appears during the wedding and kills her, Victor flees again telling his story to Walton, the one helping him travel. Victor dies during his travels and Walton finally meets the creature as he appears again before Victor. The creature is filled with sorrow, and disappears vowing to end his life.

  16. In the previous lecture, we talked about the massive impact Frankenstein had on SF and SF culture. We also went over the background information on marry shelly and how she was homeschooled by her father. Frankenstein is a perfect representation of an evolving character Frankenstein starts out like a newborn baby a clean slate for a mind and must learn the basics of humanity, including traits like communication walking, talking and breathinh, victor is terrified from his creation and abandons it, runs off leaving Frankenstein alone in the dark no matter where the creatures go the people are terrified by him his look his massive size the ugly face. This makes the creature infuriated with the creature with Victor, the creature finds Victor’s loved ones and manages to kill them one by one for revenge. The creature manages to find victor and has one last conversation with him before dying, the development of Frankenstein shows pain and gratitude and how society can turn anyone into a true monster.

  17. “It was the secrets of heaven and earth that I desired to learn”
    – Victor Frankenstein (p. 24).

    Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley (1797 – 1851) was the daughter of two of the most famous radicals of the era. Her mother, Mary Wollstonecraft, was a pioneering feminist theorist who fought for equal rights for women and access to education for women which at the time were borderline heretical ideas. In her groundbreaking work published in 1792, titled “A Vindication of the Rights of Woman,” she establishes the fact that women are rational, just like men and their supposed inferiority stems from their being denied an education. Mary Shelley’s father, William Godwin, was a minister turned atheist who practiced philosophical anarchism, advocated for self-government, and believed in benevolence to others. Mary Shelley was created and influenced by two individuals who were fighting against the status quos of society.

    Mary Shelley’s mother died giving birth to her. The theme of birth and creation being interconnected with destruction and death is seen throughout her novel, Frankenstein, which will be discussed further. In Chapter III, Elizabeth gets scarlet fever which she eventually passes unto her mother. Her mother eventually passes away due to the fever. Elizabeth, much like Mary Shelley, had to live a life knowing that she was the cause of her mother’s death. Both women had in fact killed their creators. Although her mother was gone Mary Shelley’s father raised her with the ideals of the mother instilled in her as he educated her throughout her upbringing. The views of both of her parents manifest themselves throughout Mary Shelley’s 1831 publication of the novel Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus.

    Frankenstein is credited by many scholars as the very first work of Science Fiction. It is the first novel to have a character make a choice between alchemy and pseudoscience and the scientific method. Alchemy is an ancient branch of protoscience that consisted of alchemists attempting to turn metals into gold. They also attempted to cure diseases and create elixirs for life. In reality, they typically just mixed dangerous chemicals that were harmful to people, all while holding the faith and belief that they were helping. In reality, alchemy was misbelief and delusion.

    In the beginning of the novel the main character, Victor Frankenstein, is captivated by alchemy and pseudoscience. Afterall, alchemy was the predominant science of the time and was widely accepted to be real and effective. He constantly studies it and aspires to be the best alchemist the world has ever seen. However, as he grows older and his knowledge and understanding of the world increases, he begins to see that alchemy is not the truth. Alchemy is not backed by data. Alchemy is a fallacy. Frankenstein decides to turn towards the new radical ideas of the scientific method that revolve around hypotheses, rigorous quantitative experimentation, and reproducibility of results. This new science is backed by data. This science is real.

    At the mere age of 13, Frankenstein has this realization as he thinks to himself “a modern system of science had been introduced, which possessed much greater powers than the ancient [alchemy], because the powers of the latter were chimerical [mythical], while those of the former were real and practical” (p. 26). By the time Frankenstein begins his schooling in Ingolstadt, he has “exchanged the discoveries of recent enquiries [scientists] for the dreams of forgotten alchemists” (p. 33). He has completely moved on from the myth that is alchemy. He recalls the words of Professor Waldman, “The ancient teachers of science [alchemists], promised impossibilities, and performed nothing… The modern masters [of science] promise very little… but have indeed performed miracles” (p. 34). By miracles, Professor Waldman is referring to sciences that led to deeper understandings of ourselves and the world we live in such as “discovering how blood circulates, and the nature of the air we breathe” (p. 34).

    Victor Frankenstein’s decision to turn away from the teachings of the alchemists and turn towards the scientific method, directly parallels the decision that Mary Shelley’s father made decades prior, to turn away from the teachings of the church and leave the life of a minister in the past as he turned towards atheism and tried to gain a better, truer understanding of himself, his world, and his place in it. William Godwin believed that the teachings of the church, much like alchemy, were not backed by data. They required one to have a belief based in faith and not in facts. To Godwin, they were a fallacy that promised impossibilities while performing nothing. In reality they mostly mixed dangerous ideas that were harmful to people’s pursuit in understanding their place in the world, all while holding the faith and belief that they were helping. Godwin believed that they were chimerical while atheism was real and practical. What alchemy and science were to Victor Frankenstein is what religion and atheism were to Mary Shelley’s father, William Godwin.

    Although Victor Frankenstein leaves alchemy in his past as he begins to use science to acquire the true knowledge of the world, he does so with some regret. “How dangerous is the acquirement of knowledge, and how much happier that man is who believes his native town to be the world” (p. 39). Frankenstein begins to wonder if ignorance is bliss. He feels as if he has “exchanged chimeras of boundless grandeur for realities of little worth” (p.33). If Frankenstein would have never turned away from the workings of alchemy, he would be a happier man, but he would not have obtained the knowledge that have helped him solve certain mysteries of the universe.

    Again, what Victor Frankenstein is going through in this novel mirrors what Mary Shelley’s father would have experienced when transitioning from religious life to atheism. Perhaps, Mary Shelley believed that if her father would have never turned away from the teachings of the church then he would have been a happier man. However, she also recognizes how that choice would have prevented him from pursuing the knowledge of the realities of life, even if those realities prove to be much more grim than the fantasies. Perhaps, If William Godwin would have never strayed from the flock and had remained a minister and member of the church, he would have been a happier man. However, he would not know the truths about life and his reality, even if the reality is a bleak one where it is just us. Billions of hyperconscious human beings running amok. Is it better to know the truth? Or is ignorance truly bliss?

    There is little doubt that Mary Shelley was influenced by the atheistic teachings of her father when reading Frankenstein. On page 38 Frankenstein reflects on how his father made sure to teach him to never believe or fear “supernatural horrors, tales of superstition, or apparitions of a spirit.” One must believe that Mary Shelley’s father taught her some of the same lessons. Dr. Erasmus Darwin, Charles Darwin’s grandfather, an atheist philosopher also played a part in impacting some of Mary Shelley’s novel as he was with her sharing ideas and philosophies during the summer in which she wrote it.

    Frankenstein uses his understanding of anatomy to piece the body parts of dead carcasses from cemeteries together with animal bones from slaughterhouses to construct his 8-foot-tall creature. Then, through galvanism, the cutting-edge technology of Mary Shelley’s time that involved applying electric currents to lifeless muscles to generate movements from dead animals or people, he is able to bring his creation to life. This is the exact formula that one uses when creating science fiction, you take something that is true to the science of your time and you imagine it a step further. Mary Shelley took the sciences of her time, anatomy, and galvanism, and extrapolated them a dark step forward.

    Dr. Frankenstein instantly regrets breaking the boundary of the threshold that man crosses when he creates life in a laboratory. He claims that his contempt was so great that not “even Dante could have conceived it” (p. 44). Referring of course to Dante’s Inferno, the 14th century epic poem and precursor to Science Fiction. Frankenstein is wholly disgusted with himself and despises his creature so much that immediately after giving it life he wants nothing to do with it. He abandons his creation and leaves it to fend for itself hoping to never see it again.

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