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Oswald Chambers once said that, “We are in danger of forgetting that we cannot do what God does, and that God will not do what we can do” (http://home. att. net/~quotesabout/god. html). In a society which is constantly making progress, human beings do not understand the repercussions of new scientific discoveries and often cross the delicate line of being human and playing God. Science gives us security as it is considered to be the cure to all evil.
What eludes us is that in the act of eradicating this ‘evil’, we inadvertently bring into being a newer, more powerful evil. Victor Frankenstein, the focal character in Mary Shelly’s novel “Frankenstein” and Aylmer, the antagonistic character in Nathaniel Hawthorne’s short story “The Birthmark” both become so devoted in their pursuits of creation, that they forget their human limitations ending up with chaos and destruction.
In the story, “The Birthmark”, Aylmer tells his newly wed wife that he is ‘shocked’ by the birthmark on her face, as it is the “visible mark of earthly imperfection” (Hawthorne 1131). His thoughts and words hurt his wife greatly, which drives her to a point where she would rather die than live on another day with the hideous birthmark on her face. As Georgiana imparts on to her husband, her wish to get the birthmark removed once and for all, Aylmer is fueled to succeed at all costs.
He rents out an extensive apartment where he observes Georgina and delves in a variety of natural philosophies so that he can remove her birthmark once and for all. Aylmer is so engrossed in playing God to remove a human imperfection so his wife can get rid of her mortal nature that he does not realize that he lacks the powers to make things around him flawless. It is this obsession, which eventually eradicates the birthmark. But along with the birthmark, a fair Georgiana becomes a martyr for her husband’s cause.
Similarly Victor Frankenstein, the character created by Mary Shelly, wishes to indulge in “the secrets of heaven and earth” (Shelley 45); however, despite having the intentions to “banish disease from the human frame” (Shelley 47), he is completely careless in accepting responsibilities for his creation. After his mother’s death, Frankenstein becomes a victim of fate. It is fate coupled with his eternal thirst for knowledge that leads to the monsters creation. An ambitious Frankenstein eventually goes against Mother Nature by creating the monster.
Frankenstein and Aylmer’s actions of creating life and beauty respectively parallel the nature of recent cloning efforts by the Clonaid Corporation. According to The Economist “On December 27th Clonaid, a firm associated with the Raelians, a religious sect, announced that it had succeeded in producing the world’s first human clone–an allegedly healthy baby girl called Eve, born to an unnamed American woman at an undisclosed location” (61-62). Cloning has been going on for years and numerous animals have been cloned.
Critics, skeptics and supporters have paid minimal attention to this sensitive subject because it has never affected our lives in a direct way. But as our own species are being cloned, we can’t help but to stop and think about the implications of cloning. In science’s great pursuit to take over god’s duties, one wonders whether creating clones is ethical and moral, not only to the clone that may suffer serious deformities but to the society it will be unleashed upon. Science is trying to create a life which they cannot govern later on as nature’s will eventually take over. Paranoid.
Human Beings have always been inclined towards art and beauty. It is in our nature to lay emphasis on beauty and creation. It is something that mesmerizes us and wheels us into great depths. Art that is created naturally can be exquisite at times, but when our obsession with superficiality drives us to inject science into this artistic force, we are looking at a grotesque and unethical piece of creation. Aylmer was so fixated on his wife’s beauty that he saw the birthmark as a sign of her mortal nature. He saw the birthmark as a symbol of imperfection, sorrow, decay and death; all things ugly.
He is eager to remove the birthmark and tells Georgiana, his humble wife that he is “convinced of the perfect practicability of it’s removal” (Hawthorne 1132). Aylmer with his previous experiences at taming nature sees no reason why he should not further beautify his nearly perfect wife upon whom nature has placed its ugly stamp. Frankenstein’s creation ‘The monster’ has also been judged at a superficial level from the very beginning. Following the birth of his creation, he instantly gives the monster a feeling of being on the outside of society.
Victor responds to his creation by saying, “I beheld the wretch–the miserable monster whom I had created” (Shelley 61). It is his initial rejection which leads the monster to plead with Frankenstein: “You, my creator, abhor me; what hope can I gather from your fellow-creatures, who owe me nothing? they spurn and hate me” (Shelley 94). The creature struggles with the thought of being unwanted because of his grotesque looks. The ‘monster’ was a benevolent creature, but as he was shunned by people for his external appearance, he turned miserable and vengeful.