In Frankenstein, many issues are raised concerning science’s interference with nature. Today, scientists are coming increasingly close to being able to clone a human being using genetic engineering. Dolly, the first cloned sheep is proof that we have the technology to clone mammals. From Frankenstein we can learn that creating new life is a massive responsibility and ultimately is wrong, because it is impossible to imagine the problems that might arise. In this situation the novel is even more relevant today, because in 1818 cloning was only a dream, and now it is closer to reality than ever before.
Throughout the novel Frankenstein there is a pervading theme of the quest for knowledge, which still continues today. Victor attempts to surge beyond accepted human limits and access the secret of life, just as many genetic scientists are trying to do today. Likewise, Walton attempts to surpass previous human explorations by endeavouring to reach the North Pole. This ruthless pursuit of knowledge proves dangerous, as Victor’s act of creation results in the destruction of everyone dear to him, and Walton finds himself perilously trapped between sheets of ice.
I think that although we may have the knowledge to do something, it doesn’t mean that we must do it, if it has moral or other implications. For example we know how to make a nuclear bomb, but should we ever use it? Another issue that the novel raises is the issue of moral responsibility. We need to care for humanity as a whole, not just ourselves. We in the rich West have money food and shelter while those in other lands such as Ethiopia are starving.
In these modern times, we also have a responsibility to care for and sustain the environment, not to abuse the gift of nature. This is in contrast to the deforestation of Amazon Rainforests in Brazil, where millions of trees are cut down every day for the Western world’s timber and paper needs. We are even more aware of the damage to our environment now because of the scientific ‘progress’ we have experienced since Shelley’s day. Frankenstein refuses to take moral responsibility for his creation. Today, people emphasis their rights over their responsibilities.
Perhaps even more than in Shelley’s time, we need to encourage moral responsibility in our individualistic society, where most people seems to be looking out only for themselves. Another final issue raised by the novel is the issue of prejudice. An example of prejudice is anti-Semitism: prejudice towards Jewish people. Anti-Semitism was a tenet of Nazi Germany, and in the Holocaust 1933-45 about 6 million Jews died in concentration camps and in local extermination pogroms, such as the siege of the Warsaw ghetto.
In Eastern Europe, as well as in Islamic nations, anti-Semitism still exists and is spread by neo-fascist groups. In spite of the globalisation of our world, through air travel, TV and the Internet, since Shelley’s day, we still have many examples of prejudice and discrimination against those of different appearance, colour, race, intelligence, sex, age from ourselves. Throughout the novel, the ‘monster’ is rejected and exiled because of his appearance, when deep down he was an intelligent, thoughtful and emotional being.
No one could see past his horrific appearance to reveal his personality and thoughts. To be a victim of prejudice is demeaning and makes the person feel worthless. Despite this, the Monster fights on, trying to befriend people until he finally gives up and decides that the best thing to do would be to die. This type of attitude and feeling is something that people should not have to deal with in such a multi-cultural world we live in, for we are all human beings.