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Frankenstein: Artist, Mechanic, or Both?

Posted by: Sara Paccione | October 30, 2010 | No Comment |

I think that Victor Frankenstein is somewhere between a combination of a more traditional artist and a mechanical artist.  At the beginning of the book, he is scolded by one of his professors for studying the works of men such as Paracelsus and Agrippa because their “sciences” are obsolete.  Frankenstein’s next professor actually encourages Frankenstein’s reading of these authors, claiming that although they “promised impossibilities, and performed nothing” (Shelley 27), they still influenced the ideas of the more modern scientists.

Although Frankenstein says that he also thinks those old scientists are somewhat obsolete, we see that he is still highly influenced by them.  His creation of the creature is a mix of the imagination of the old scientists and the discoveries of more modern science.  In some ways, he does have an artistic approach to creating his new person.  Even though he is somewhat horrified at the thought of digging up and mutilating corpses, his fantastic vision of creating a living human being overcomes these horrors.  He also thinks that he is helping the world with his discovery, claiming that “Life and death appeared to me ideal bounds, which I should first break through, and pour a torrent of life into our dark world” (32).  Although he is also a mechanical artist in that he builds his human as if it is a machine (even powering it with electricity), he is using this means to achieve the more imaginatively and fantastically artistic “promised impossibilities” that the ancient scientists and philosophers failed to perform.

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