Romantic Literature and Contemporary Philosophy, Science, and Medicine: Mary Shelley's Frankenstein
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Literature Review Mary Shelley’s novel places important emphasis on three major subjects, experimentation, medicine, and ethics. The analysis of Victor Frankenstein through a historical and cultural lens provides necessary framework in which a reader can improve their comprehension of the novel. Shelley’s allusion to these topics result from her own historical standpoint, as she identifies the Age of Enlightenment within Romantic Era. Thesis Statement Mary Shelley writes of a scientific horror, replacing the traditional paranormal Gothic with the social anxiety of death. Though a product of the imagination, the novel reflects the unusual interests of eighteenth and nineteenth century physicians who explored galvanic experimentation. While originally considered an act of divinity, Enlightenment theorists and scientists sought to cure mortality in pursuit of raising the dead, attempting to replace God through human autonomy. Frankenstein tragically reflects these futile endeavors as characterized by Victor’s ultimate failure to obtain divine knowledge and assume the role of an omnipotent creator. Theoretical Framework I wish to frame my research around the theoretical inquiries Mary Shelley exemplifies in her novel, Frankenstein. This thesis will provide necessary literary framework exploring the Age of Enlightenment to provide a greater understanding of the historical context, specifically focusing on the history of experimentation, medicine, and ethics. Project Description I will write three small chapters with the objective of showing how a reasonable understanding of eighteenth century natural philosophy, medicine, and ethics illuminate the ethical and scientific framework highlighted in Frankenstein. The objective of this project is to serve as a guide, familiarizing the reader with the major topics Mary Shelley features in her novel, Frankenstein.
Jones, Grace Nicole (2017). Romantic Literature and Contemporary Philosophy, Science, and Medicine: Mary Shelley's Frankenstein. Undergraduate Research Scholars Program. Available electronically from