This is a course blog for the members of EH236 at the University of South Alabama, Spring 2006.

Monday, March 06, 2006

Frankenstein and European Industrialization

Shelley’s novel may reflect the anxieties aroused by European industrialization in a couple different ways. The monster Frankenstein created could represent the uncertainty in the change that was taking place at the time of European industrialization and how quickly industrialization spread throughout Europe.

European industrialization was a time of uncertainty. A great deal of changes was taking place and this made many uneasy about what the future might hold. The monster in Shelley’s novel could be a reflection of these changes. Victor, a scientist, spent some time reading, studying, and learning before he got the urge to create life out of something that no longer had life. When he came up with the idea to create the monster, he was so proud of himself for the accomplishment it would be, that he would be able to do such a thing, that he did not think of the consequences it might cause to him and others. Many scientists, or knowledgeable people, that were around through the industrialization era worked in the same way. They think about what their inventions can do for society, how it will help citizens, and the region grow through innovation. They did not concern themselves with what industry might do to the citizens of Europe, the uneasiness and hardship it would create for many in the beginning.

One section of Shelley’s novel especially reminded me of how a person might look at industry in the beginning stages. This takes place after Victor was released from his criminal charges and is still not relieved of his anxieties. It goes, “I did not participate in these feelings; (his father’s feelings of joy) for to me the walls of a dungeon or a palace were alike hateful. The cup of life was poisoned for ever; and although the sun shone upon me, as upon the happy and gay of heart, I saw around me nothing but a dense and frightful darkness, penetrated by no light but the glimmer of two eyes that glared upon me.” This could easily be feelings of a creator of some factory or plant after they looked back at their doing and could finally see the hardship it was causing for others. It could be referring to the pollution and smog that the factories put into the air because they did not have the regulations that are in place today to keep that down. In a place of industry, as it was during European industrialization, it is very dark and dreary because of the smog let into the air. The smoke stacks of some of the plants, with flames coming out of them, may actually look like two eyes glaring at you off in the distance.

Industrialization was something that was necessary to get us to where we are today in the world, so likewise it spread throughout Europe like a wildfire, or like a big monster traipsing across the land. People hated it and were scared of it because they did not know what it was or what to expect from it and saw the damage factories and plants did to the areas in which they were located. In addition, like the monster, industrialization may have been good but did not really have a chance to prove it to others.


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