Frankenstein Science Essay

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As a boy, the poet "had dabbled with electricity (on his sister's sores and the family cat)," another study in by a U. biographer noted that her novelist father was friends with electrochemist Humphry Davy and with William Nicholson, a co-discoverer of electrolysis, the technique of triggering chemical reactions using electricity.

Several accounts point to the influence of Byron's physician, Polidori (who later poisoned himself with prussic acid), and his discussions of experiments on spontaneous generation by Erasmus Darwin, grandfather of Charles.

In conceiving her story, Mary Shelley was influenced by the nascent medical science of the day and by early experiments on electricity.

In return, , calls "the governing myth of modern biology": a cautionary tale of scientific hubris.

Among the influences she cites in a preface to an 1831 edition of her novel is Luigi Galvani, who in 1780 found that an electrical charge could make a dead frog's legs twitch.

It was Percy who may have acquainted her with galvanism, which Frankenstein explicitly mentions as the key to reanimation in the 1831 edition.

She married Percy after his first wife's suicide, only to lose him 6 years later when he drowned in a sailing accident.

But she called on science, not psychology, in explaining how she "came to think of, and dilate upon, so very hideous an idea" at 18 years of age.

"It affects a lot of people's thinking and fear because it represents this fundamental of ‘You don't mess with Mother Nature and you don't mess with life because God will strike you down.’" "Obviously, I don't buy into that theme," he adds.

The myth endures, he says, because "fear is easy to sell"—even when unwarranted.


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