Frankincense: Science and the Industrial Revolution Frankincense, written by author Mary Shelley, was a romantic based story written in Europe during the eighteen hundreds. During this time period, Europe was experiencing many social and economic changes. Many of these changes were a product of the industrial revolution of Europe. This time period can be defined and era of exploration, discovery and industrialization in which ideas were pushed to the limits.
Victor’s creation of Frankincense is a reflection of the industrial revolution and a scientific era in which the borders of the possible are pushed and society is forced o face a monster of their own. Victor Frankincense is one of the mall characters In Shelley novel, as well as the creator of Frankincense. He spent two years working and collecting body parts in order to accomplish his goal of creating life. One quote made by Victor is “No one can conceive the variety of feelings which bore me onwards, Like a hurricane, in the first enthusiasm of success.
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Life and death appeared to me ideal bounds, which I should first break through, and pour a torrent of light into our dark world” (Shelley 58). Victor did have the typical romanticism ideology which was present throughout most of that era’s society. He Instead was a product of the Industrial revolution, It can be said that Victors creation of life represented the same feeling embodied by this scientific era (Kowalski). The light/ flee that created life symbolize the enlightenment of knowledge and discovery.
It gave a sense of accomplishment, productivity and meaning when the final puzzle piece was put into place to make “new life”. This new life Is seen In the Industrial revolution with the creation of new work machines. Once Victor found the secret to creating life he was inspired and would not stop is developments until his creation was made. The monster was not intended to be created for evil. During the early stages of the Industrial revolution, science helped to fuel the progression of this new era. The Industrial revolution geared the building of larger work factories.
The majorities of these factories were owned by higher class wealthy people and were run by the lower working class. Machines were becoming much more common throughout the factories. Because of these advances, factory owners did not feel obligated to pay as much to their employees since their products ere mainly being produced by machines. Both Frankincense and the industrial revolution were bi-products of advances within science which led to the anxiety of the people of Europe. Once the Victor created the monster, he was horrified by his creation.
Instead of being proud of his creation, Frankincense, he Is haunted, plagued and sorrowed. It was then he realized he had created a true monster. Victor had a lot of work which had led up to the moment of bringing life to earth, but in the end he wished he had not created the creature. This Idea can be paralleled to the workers of Europe during his time period. The Industrial revolution spawned a new era of “life” with the creating of new machinery; however, the people of this time period were not so fond 1 OFF with the fact their Jobs were being replaced by machines.
The creation of Frankincense led to many murders. With the development of new machinery in factories, the workers suffered a death of their own. The advancement of technology led to the working classes downfall (McCullough). They had lower wages, longer working hours, and unstable working conditions. This all led to the creation of labor unions. Just as Victor had to face the monster he had created, so did the makers of the new machinery. They were forced to face the fate of their creations. Both creations were feared because of the power others knew that they held.
Just before Mary Shelley had written Frankincense, there are reports of the workers revolting and destroying some of the machinery (McCullough). This may also be symbolized when Frankincense the monster realizes that he can take power over victor. It can also be said that when the villagers are chasing Frankincense that it goes along with the errors trying to revolt against the factories. The anxiety which the workers embody can also be caused by the fact which the creations are pushing the boundaries of science.
In thesis number five of Monster Theory (Cohen), it describes “the monster policing the borders of the possible”. The creation of Frankincense was a result of pure curiosity. It was quickly shown that Frankincense was a warning against the experimentation of life. The industrial revolution also pushed its limits by its creation of new machinery. This is a prime example of curiosity being more punished then embraced. While these creations were not intended to get the outcome that it did, it still led to the anxiety of society. If these types of creations could be made, what else was to come?
During the industrial revolution, people feared the loss of their Jobs over machinery and they knew that any further advancement could potentially hurt them. They had a fear of the unknown. With the fear of the unknown came the question a common question. Was science going too far? This experimentation pushed the boundary of moral values, personal ethics and even religious beliefs. It is the unknown which seems to draw scientists in tit the constant need for discovery and explorations, while society seems to push away at the idea of these new challenges.
Just as the analogy associated with Victor “giving life”, it can be considered going too far (Bland). The workers of the factories felt that the owners had gone too far with the implication of machines for various reasons. One main reason being they felt they were being replaced. Another aspect is that they thought the work of the machine did not have the same craftsmanship as when it was made by hand. Even in today’s culture, we can use Mary Shelley Frankincense as an example in the advancement of technology. We can see Mary Shelley symbolization and how it parallels with today.
With the advancements in technology, we need to make sure it does not take too much control over our lives. We must learn patience and not get too far ahead of our time. Just like Victor and scientists that fueled the industrial revolution along with the factory owners, we must learn to think about the repercussions of our developments. Will they be for the better of all life, or will we have a modern day Frankincense? Works Cited Bland, Celia. The Mechanical Age: The Industrial Revolution in England. New York: Monster Theory: Reading Culture.