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Greg Wasserman

Frankenstein, and A Brave New World

By: Greg Wasserman
College Now Course - SCI 1

A dark laboratory, a mad scientist, these are the images we have of the story of Frankenstein. Yet, Mary Shelly in her novel tells the tale of the genius university student whose quest for knowledge creates what is known to children of all ages as "Frankenstein". The cinematic representation of Mary Shelly's Frankenstein, in an effort to increase the value of science fiction, implored the use of several themes and motifs, in order to send a message to the viewer. These themes connect Mary Shelly's Frankenstein to Albert Huxley's, A Brave New World.

As the story begins, we are set in a very cold and icy land. A group of explorers are on a journey to a new world, when they come across a man. Victor Frankenstein is in great distress as he tells the men of the horror he endured. Victor was a very intelligent man; his quest for knowledge knew no end. He attended University, and while there he becomes particularly interested in the relationship between electricity and the birth of life. With lab experiment gone awry, he creates a creature that will cause the deterioration of his life.

The setting of a story has great influence on the reader, and even more importance to a viewer of a movie rendition. At every point in the movie, where life is given or taken away, lightning appears. It is this motif that symbolizes the evil of man, and the horror he can create. The story on which Frankenstein is influenced by, the Creation story, uses lightning to symbolize death.

Another theme that is prevalent in Frankenstein is man's desire and attempt to be omnipotent. Victor, in his journey for all knowledge, creates a creature that is uncontrollable. This paradox of science is what frightens scientists and politicians alike. Not being able to control what we create will be the downfall of society and discovery. This is the point where science becomes more of a risk than a reward.

All of the themes in Frankenstein, however, are similar to that of A Brave New World. Many years into the future, scientists have figured a way to revolutionize childbirth, and eliminate the maternal and paternal duties of reproduction. Those who reproduce sexually are considered "savages". When a savage is brought off the "reservation" and into the new world the conditions lead him to suicide. The quest for discovery, and the need to make society better leave both Victor and life in the "Brave New World" undesirable. Societies have been reproducing using sexual intercourse for millions of years. A Brave New World shows how we can destroy years of scientific progress.

Both Mary Shelly and Albert Huxley used their literature, and eventually the cinematic editions of their literature, to show how science can adversely affect society. Science is a powerful entity, that if used improperly or without understanding, dire consequences await. The setting in both stories contributes to the delivery of the theme, and provides the viewer insight into the realm of scientific possibilities of the future.