Fear and Loathing in Frankenstein (and the 21st Century in General)

Something interesting that just struck me is how things we consider frightening have changed over time. To the Romantics and people of Shelley’s day, the notion of creating life  scared  them. Now, living in our Post-Modern day, what scares us anymore? My first inclination is to propose that it is death, but I think that would be too easy, because humans reflexively fear death and the unknowns associated with it.

Perhaps then, what Shelley proposes is scary to the Romantics is not the creation of life, but rather the invention over something they have no control over . This seems valid, especially how at this point, the Romantics and Romantic modes of thinking are made in response to the Industrial Revolution. I think this concept can still be seen a small bit in the movies still produced today about Artificial Intelligence surpassing the creator.

This still doesn’t particularly help with understanding what the 21st Century audience is scared of. Most people, with mention of Frankenstein do not consider it to be a frightening story, even though that could have been the intention.

One small foray into the human psyche says that, at least in the industrialized nations, we are afraid of discomfort. So many films about torture. So many infomercials about needing blankets with sleeves. Any inconvenience can be thrown money at to fix. Any thought of pain keeps us in our mental cages.

-a.b.

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Filed under British Literature, English, School, Uncategorized

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