Recently, I read the book Frankenstein, written by Mary Shelley. It was significant to me because it inspired me to write several short stories of my own, and because the bioethical dilemma faced by the main character is very pertinent to modern day society. Frankenstein is significant for its exploration of the concept of what it means to be human. It is important because Frankenstein explores the forbidden in his obsessive quest for knowledge, which led me to wonder about the implications of such a venture in science during a futuristic society that parallels our own.
Frankenstein is a story familiar to many people, but for me it had a separate meaning. I never thought that seeking knowledge was a bad thing until I read the book. Within it the author implies that there are limits to man's quest for knowledge and that such knowledge can easily be used to create what should not be created. The seeming taboo of advancing science is a hot topic today.
The plot of Frankenstein concerns itself with the 'resurrection' of the dead; and the artificial creation of life, as well as the theme of going against nature by pushing the limitations of natural order. While robbing graveyards for the body parts of the deceased is morally repulsive, creating life could be seen as a positive advancement, until one thinks of all the reprehensible possibilities of creating new life separate from the laws of nature. Life would become a tool to be used, and that would be unacceptable. The thought led me to explore the possible hypothetical in which creating intelligent life, though not necessarily organic in nature, could be seen as justifiable and not morally corrupt.
Frankenstein, the main character of the book, neglects his creation, leading to all the killings that occur in the book. Today, one parallel to the creation would be the advent of cloning. It has the potential to save lives through genetic replication of organs that would match the recipient's genetic code without any rejection. It also has the potential to be used to create a human clone without permission from something as simple as a fallen eyelash; it has the potential to be used to create life that can be manipulated or experimented with unethically. Frankenstein recreates life, though not through the remains of one individual, and in the end, his carelessness with his own abilities to create lead to the abandonment of his project. It is his irresponsibility with his knowledge, not the knowledge itself that is a malignant force.
By giving me another viewpoint from which to ponder the potential consequences of scientific advances, Frankenstein inspired me to write several short stories of different genres. It was the first of the 'classics' that I found to be well written and still relevant, encouraging me to find more 'classics' of its kind. It was a book that entertained me even as it made me think. Without Frankenstein in the back of my mind, I would not have had the initial inspiration or ideas that led to the creation of one of my longer stories, Project Renaissance, which centers on the theme of the use and misuse of scientific knowledge. Mimicking the motivations of humans, I also was inspired to write a set of short stories with a focus on the driving forces behind the actions of mankind, such as revenge, thirst for knowledge, greed, and addiction. Not only did Frankenstein inspire me to write, it also led me to think about the role of mankind in the world, with all its misplaced attempts at controlling nature's forces.