London-“Frankenstein” has become a global symbol to describe all human creations that lack ethics and control. One hundred years passed on “Frankenstein”, the novel written by Mary Wollstonecraft, which had been transformed into a classic literary work and republished dozens of times in scores of languages. For decades, the novel has raised many questions on relations among humans, nature, science, morals, fear, and death. It has showcased many symbols that maintained their modern aspect and ability to push scientists to think about their relations with life, nature, and existence itself. So, what is the story behind this novel and the secret of its immortality?
In 1816, British writer Mary Wollstonecraft married poet Percy Bysshe Shelley and went to live with him in Italy. In the same year, the newlyweds visited Geneva with their friend the poet Lord Byron and spend an evening with a number of their acquaintances on a rainy night. During the evening and to break their boredom, they decided to tell stories about phantoms. While sleeping that night, Marry dreamed about the stories she listened to, and woke up terrified. The author started to write her “Frankenstein” novel, which was published in London after two years and achieved an exceptional success.
The novel, which may be inspired from the biography of the awkward swindler Johann Conrad Dippel, narrates the story of “Dr. Victor Frankenstein”, the miserable scientist who was attracted by the modern sciences during college, and isolated himself in his lab to implement different experiences of chemistry, autopsy, and electricity that led to the creation of an uncontrolled monster, which destroyed many lives including Dr. Frankenstein himself.
Frankenstein has become a symbol separating the world of science from ethics that resulted from irresponsible decisions sometimes taken by scientists who try to satisfy their unlimited craving for knowledge. This symbol has attracted many scientists, philosophers, historians, novelists, and sociology professors concerned in this character as a deep intellectual phenomenon.
The novel has been early translated in the Arabic world and many generations have read it. Iraqi novelist Ahmed al-Saadawi called his Poker-winner novel “Frankenstein in Bagdad”, in which he highlighted problems taking place in Iraq since 2003 by discussing the fear in creating monsters that will lose control and cause tragedies.
People who are interested in case of ethics in sciences know the accuracy of these Frankenstein-related figures. For example, the Tuskegee Syphilis Study in the U.S., where American scientists transmitted the syphilis disease to intact people to implement experiences is a Frankenstein-related incident.
French philosopher Bruno Latour provided an advanced analysis for the learned lessons of the Frankenstein ideology, saying that this status is linked to the human being’s need to protect the monsters he creates rather than stopping him from creating them.
“Frankenstein” is an amazing novel to be read, not only because it provides the reader with an exceptional reading experience, but also because it opens the door for many complicated questions.
To celebrate the 200th anniversary of the novel, there are plans to publish new versions of the book, maybe a new movie, in addition to holding a conference to discuss the character of Frankenstein, and many other activities.