Scientific discovery was a huge thing during the 19th century when Frankenstein was published. Society was torn between old spiritual or religious beliefs and how a lot of this was seemingly proven wrong by science. Shelley includes science as a theme in the novel because it was such a big thing during this time period. If you get a question on this theme, you’ll have a lot to write about contextually, as well as some great quotes to use in your essay. Like the one below, for starters…
‘I desire, therefore, in this narration, to state those facts which led to my predilection for that science’
(Frankenstein, Chapter 2)
Early on in the novel, Frankenstein states that the story to follow will give his reasons for his obsession with science. The phrase ‘that science’ suggests that it shouldn’t have been used in the way that it was in the novel, which then makes the reader question experiments actually going on at the time. The early 19th century was a time of great scientific debate, so for Shelley to showcase science and its potential negative effects would have been very intriguing for readers at the time.
‘My father was not scientific, and I was left to struggle with a child’s blindness, added to a student’s thirst for knowledge’ (Frankenstein, Chapter 2)
- What does the phrase ‘my father was not scientific’ suggest about Frankenstein’s own experiments?
- What could the phrase ‘struggle with a child’s blindness’ imply?
- What word class is ‘struggle’ and what does it mean?
- What might ‘thirst for knowledge’ suggest?
‘None but those who have experienced them can conceive the enticements of science… there is a continual food for discovery and wonder’ (Frankenstein, Chapter 4)
- What does ‘entice’ mean and what does the phrase ‘enticements of science suggest’?
- what does the phrase ‘continual food’ highlight?
- Contextually, what does this quote tell us about the 19th century society?
- What do the nouns ‘discovery’ and ‘wonder’ tell us about scientific discovery?
‘This was indeed a Godlike science, and I ardently desired to become acquainted with it’ (The monster, Chapter 12)
- The phrase ‘Godlike science’ merges both religion and science. What does it suggest about the monster?
- What word class are the words ‘desired’ and ‘acquainted’? What do they mean?
- To what extent could this be seen as the monster thinking about the creation of the female monster?
- What word class is ‘ardently’ and what does it mean?