Frankenstein: A Cautionary Tale for the Modern Era

This isn’t the first time I’ve read Frankenstein or The Modern Prometheus, but it also isn’t the first time I’ve found it enjoyable. Both readings I found the first 70-80 pages as a crawl, but really heated up after the Monster becomes apparent to Victor.

A teacher of mine once mentioned how Frankenstein is arguably the first piece of Science Fiction to which I’d have to agree, although it’s not too significant in my opinion. The novel makes some mention of broad terms such as “Galvanism” and Alchemy as tools for the production of Victor’s man, but never goes into grave detail of how he sparked the lifeless body parts to function and spring to life a conscious being. To be fair, you can’t expect Mary Shelley to make a realistic depiction of the complex task creating life. In fact, majority of science-fiction simply slaps on scientific elements and words like Doctors, laboratory’s, beakers and of course the word “science” itself to give it a false sense of realism. The only thing that differs the fantasy genre and the science fiction genre is that fantasy is modest enough not to attempt to explain any of it’s super naturally occurring elements, while science fiction pretends to. But more importantly, the story of Frankenstein serves as a cautionary tale for mankind’s “forbidden flame” of creation through modern science.

Since the 1960s and the rise of knowledge of Human and Animal genetics, mankind is now in possession of being “Gods”. Cloning and genetic engineering is being attempted and advanced rapidly. Worst of all, there’s a likely possibility that despite firm international legislation, human cloning (Genetics wise, NOT the identical replication kind) is likely taking place all around the world. Every piece of produce we buy at the supermarket can be properly deemed “Frankenfood”, it has undergone selective genetic hybridization and conditioning. We can now control our food and environment surrounding us on a massive scale. The most horrifying revelation is we are on the brink of defying natural law with stem cell-research and our ability to recreate organs than mankind could never naturally reproduce or heal. Is this for the better of mankind or are we walking a fine line of playing God and overstepping our boundaries? How much control can we exert before civilization as a whole resembles nothing as it does today. It would be unfair to lead this slippery slope I’m describing to the ultimate conclusion of a dystopic society identical to Brave New World, but it could potentially lead to an outcome bearing some similarities.

Just reflect how far mankind has come within the last century. The automobile Flight, Space Travel, the Human Genome Encoded, Division of the Uranium Atom and Nuclear intercontinental weapons. Cloning and even synthetic organisms like microscopic nano-machines have been created. It’s evident our knowledge and capabilities is exponentially growing. Just how long will it be before a mother and father will be able to talk to there doctor about whether or not they want their child to be a blue eyed boy and with the body of an athlete? Perhaps I’m too paranoid, but I still pray to God or whatever force lies out there that such a day will never come.


2 thoughts on “Frankenstein: A Cautionary Tale for the Modern Era

  1. jfig111

    That bit about cloning is so true – pretty much everything we buy nowadays is either genetically mutated to be cheaper or more efficient or it’s artificial…. hence the organic movement… I’m personally more afraid of singularity and that is right around the corner.

    1. Vincent Yam

      Well you’re not the first one to be afraid of this rather dystopic outcome and Shelley isn’t the first one to address this. In Gundam Seed… the situation is that people are able to create super-human or above human beings… resulting in race conflict. On a more literary note, Margaret Atwood’s Oryx and Crake, deals with competing human corporations messing around with genetics, creating invasive species and highly harmful viruses. This results in one of the most brilliant scientists coming to the conclusion that all humans must die and basically ending everybody’s lives, replacing them with a new semi-human species that has been genetically altered. And like you, I pray to god that we never come to this conclusion, that our morals hold up and we will hopefully restrain our progress…. or is it our regress?


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