The Antebellum Period In Mary Shelley's Frankenstein

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In Mary Shelley’s gothic novel Frankenstein, the scientist, Victor Frankenstein discusses his passion for bringing to life his own creation. After Elizabeth becomes ill, and his mother passes away, Frankenstein becomes determined to find a way to bring the dead to life, and alter the cycles of life. He becomes intrigued and inspired by natural philosophy, especially the ideas of chemistry and alchemy through his studies at the University of Ingolstadt. Victor’s fascination in creating such an experiment sparked my interest after further reading about Frankenstein’s procedure for making his creature and what happens after it comes to life. I questioned his actions compared to his words and decided to look into the time period in which Frankenstein …show more content…
Looking back, Shelley’s novel was written in the 19th century during a time known as the Antebellum era. Amid this time period, scientific and medical progress were blossoming, especially in regards to electricity. During this age, Thomas Edison had not yet invented the lightbulb. But the concept of electricity was turning and more and more people were playing around with the idea (Mellor). In regards to Frankenstein, his use of electrical impulses to bring to life the creature was actually inspired by the Antebellum era. In particular, the work of one physiologist from Bolognese Italy, named Luigi Galvani. In the late 18th, early 19th century, Galvani discovered an overlooked “vital force” within animals that he called “animal electricity”. When investigating the effect of electricity on animals, an experiment was conducted with a dissected frog and a scalpel. The frog 's leg was touched by the scalpel near a static electrical machine and as a result, the frog 's leg jumped. After repeating the experiment and observing the muscle spasms, Galvani came to the conclusion that there is a new working force at hand …show more content…
Through this closer look at Mary Shelley’s life and life in the Antebellum era, Victor Frankenstein’s thoughts and actions are justified. Concerning the science behind the creation of Frankenstein, electricity already fascinated him, and furthermore the budding topic of electrical currents within the human body was at hand, leading Victor to utilize the most recent scientific progressions at the time to create his own advancement. The act of grave digging and collecting body parts for science, though unlawful, was extremely common during the time of Frankenstein’s experiment and was needed for medical and scientific research. Victor was simply following a trend that thousands of others were also performing for the need of research and experimentation. Lastly, the act of creating life in itself, though it is considered obscene and sinful, considering Mary Shelley’s atheistic background, his actions are legitimized. In the end, I came to the conclusion that Victor Frankenstein, did “pour a torrent light into our dark world” just like he said he would. In a world with atheism and digging up the respectfully dead for unwanted research, one could say that it was rather “dark”. And considering that electricity was not as prominent during this era and how the lightbulb was not yet invented, the world was also physically “dark” in a sense. Yet through Victor’s

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