Type of paper: Essay

Topic: Frankenstein, Human, Body, Death, Ethics, Science, Life, Belief

Pages: 4

Words: 1100

Published: 2020/12/13

Chapter 4

It is mankind’s folly that they should reach beyond their means to find the edges of limits that were not known to exist. Through innovation and the act of striving to know what is yet unknown and to break down barriers that are to that point believed unbreakable, humankind has always found that containing the supposedly divine spark that lies within each individual is a matter of perceptive reasoning that is better defined by the individual than by the species. We are what we are in accordance to what we believe, and we do what we do in relation to how we react to those beliefs.
The principle of human life, of the human structure, is a belief that encompasses great thought and naturally occurring beliefs that stretch the limits and known boundaries of humanity’s continual restraints, the willingness to go where imagination dares constraining many within a web of ethical and moral dilemmas that are used to rationalize caution. In chapter 4 of Mary Shelley’s immortal Frankenstein, the scientist has already proved to be an astute student and a continually interested learner, but at some point his mind takes a different turn, developing a bent towards physiology and all it entails for the human race.
His belief that humankind is kept from advancing because of either cowardice or carelessness is quite astute, though it is by this statement that his own moral code begins to come into question, as the mere implication that altering the human form or in other ways discovering its secrets seems more than a little suspect. Humanity, with its many increasingly discovered mysteries and secrets, still remains a large question mark in the minds of many scientists, as some would claim is only natural. There are those who claim that the work of Victor Frankenstein was an abomination before he ever dared to create life in his own manner, that his works went against God and all that it meant to be human. Yet science and the pursuit of knowledge is often a very poignant and tempting goal, and is only denied by those who are either too afraid, not too careless.
Frankenstein is not shown as an uncaring and vain spirit in any regard, but merely a scientist that is far too reckless and shows absolutely no fear or humility where it pertains to the human body. For Frankenstein the body is a wonder, a drive to discover the body in all its forms and phases, including that of death and all it entails. Anatomy becomes at one point a driving study, but gives way swiftly to the observation of decay and the corruption that a body undergoes after it has ceased to function.
For this man darkness holds no sway, and the very idea of sanctity that would normally keep a graveyard safe from trespass does not even factor into his thoughts. For him it is merely a place where bodies are interred when they are no longer of use. In a most disturbing manner Frankenstein studies and observes the natural rate and state of rot and decay of human bodies by spending time in “vaults and charnel houses”. (Shelley, 1818)
It was while spending all this time with the dead, observing them, taking note of the decomposing bodies and how they rotted away that he came upon a realization, one that lacks any sense of humility or even good sense as he states that the epiphany has led him to believe that he can reanimate dead matter. It is from this point on that Frankenstein’s legend truly begins for most, and a descent into madness, despite the claim to the contrary, begins.
Yet for all that, for all that Frankenstein is so elated and almost giddy to discover that knowledge that he had grasped for, he still comes to recognize later that knowledge is not always the best manner in which to succeed, as the simplest of folk can find far more security and happiness within their ordinary lives, in which they know and trust that everything is as it should be, than those who dare to risk all and ascend the heights of scientific discovery. Frankenstein realizes this, but not until it is far too late, and alludes to as much in this chapter.
So enamored of the idea is he that Frankenstein even admits that everything to that point ceases to matter, all the research, all the work, everything that brought him to this point, this precipice of enlightenment that has set him upon this course. It is a common failing of mankind to forget all that has come before in favor of what is and what might yet be, so much in fact that, like Frankenstein, the human condition includes the very fallacy that condemns it at times. Unfortunately for the scientist he is not given over to the lesson that to forget history is to repeat it, as within the pages of the book there is no set precedent when it comes to reanimating a human corpse. Thus does Frankenstein become a victim of his own gleeful hubris, a man tortured by a vision that seems revolutionary and yet is doomed to fail before it is ever began.
Despite his seeming lack of humility there is a moment within the chapter when it seems as though Frankenstein comes to the realization of the true scope of what he is about to attempt, giving the reader the fleeting belief that he might, just might, reconsider his ways and abandon the thought of what would be to many an act of the worst degradation ever to be foisted upon a human body. Of course, history has already been written by this point and the legend of Frankenstein has already been told and retold so many times that the reader knows very well what will happen next. The act of reanimating dead and corrupted flesh is a story that has sprang to life in many forms, though many stem from the ill-fated Frankenstein, who in his own revelation of the human condition sought to improve upon it, to take the matters of life and death into his own hands and essentially become the creator.
Chapter 4 showcases the impressive work ethic, the need to succeed, and the absolute drive that allows Victor Frankenstein to focus and express his ideals and designs with such reckless abandon, but it also hints at the madness that lies behind the excited fervor. Even as he contemplates the ethical equation of whether he should or should not tamper with creation, his mind is already working towards how he would go about doing it, what would connect to where, how intricate and difficult the work would be and so on and so forth. He is a man consumed by a vision, given over to his work in such a manner that he considers not so much the ethical or moral center of what he wishes to do, but rather the how and what that must be accomplished instead.
Frankenstein even goes so far as to justify his revelation by stating that “I was like the Arabian who had been buried with the dead, and found a passage to life, aided only by one glimmering, and seemingly ineffectual, light.” (Shelley, 1818) There is no humility there, no caution, and no genuine respect for the act of creation or what it entails. Instead there is only a childlike wonder that something should seem so simplistic and attainable, rather than morally reprehensible and borderline evil. Frankenstein is depicted as more a practical man, and Chapter 4 seems to prove this much, as well as reinforce the matter in going on to state how to he goes about creating his vision, even going so far as to increase the size of the construct so as to make those minute and therefore difficult pieces fit a little better.
The scientist even goes on to detail that he is not mad, but only driven, curious, and even in a sense meant to discover something greater than any conventional science had ever done to date. He has no compunction about robbing graves, taking only the pieces he needs to accomplish his goals. So far does he take his endeavors that he soon begins to neglect his family, his friends, and even himself as he shuts away within his laboratory, seeking to find the means and manner to do what his goals demand. He is like an overeager child in this manner, seeking to finish what he has started but not realizing the true ramifications of what he has taken as his own personal mission.

Works Cited

Shelley, Mary. Frankenstein. UK: Lackington, Hughes, Harding, Mavor & Jones, 1818. Print.

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