The Enlightenment freed humankind from what many considered the “superstitions of religion” and paved the way for the Industrial Revolution with its focus on science and reason over religion and faith. Consider that Frankenstein was written when humanity was on the cusp of incredible achievement. Vaccination for the devastating disease smallpox began in the late 18th century, and a wealth of inventions led to the factory and mass-productions of goods. Factories, however, resulted in people working long, grueling hours, often in unsafe conditions.
Two literary styles, Gothic and Romantic, developed as a reaction to Enlightenment thinking’s emphasis on the human ability and the power of the human mind, to the horrors of the French Revolution (which was itself influenced by Enlightenment thinkers), and the remarkable changes wrought by the Industrial Revolution, both good and bad. These literary styles focus on the imperfections of human beings and the powerful force of nature.
Mary Shelley’s novel Frankenstein was infamously written as the result of a bet as to who could write the most terrifying ghost story, but it is more than a scary story. Among the main themes of the novel is dangerous knowledge, including (but not limited to) the knowledge of the creation of life.
- In a post of a minimum of 500 words, discuss modern implications of what could be considered the dangerous knowledge of life and death. As a modern society, have we crossed a line to the acceptance of dangerous knowledge?