Korean J Med Hist.  2014 Dec;23(3):543-572. 10.13081/kjmh.2014.23.543.

A Study of Development of Medicine and Science in the Nineteenth Century Science Fiction: Biomedical Experiments in Mary Shelley's Frankenstein

Affiliations
  • 1Department of English Language and Literature, Chung-Ang University, Seoul, Korea. juchoo@cau.ac.kr

Abstract

As the sciences advanced rapidly in the modern European world, outstanding achievements have been made in medicine, chemistry, biology, physiology, physics and others, which have been co-influencing each of the scientific disciplines. Accordingly, such medical and scientific phenomena began to be reflected in novels. In particular, Mary Shelley's Frankenstein includes the diverse aspects of the change and development in the medicine and science. Associated with medical and scientific information reflected in Frankenstein and Frankenstein's experiments in the text, accordingly, this research will investigate the aspects of medical and scientific development taking place in the nineteenth century in three ways. First, the medical and scientific development of the nineteenth century has been reviewed by summerizing both the information of alchemy in which Frankenstein shows his interest and the new science in general that M. Waldman introduces in the text. Second, the actual features of medical and scientific development have been examined through some examples of the experimental methods that M. Waldman implicitly uttered to Frankenstein. Third, it has been checked how the medical and scientific development is related to the main issues of mechanism and vitalism which can be explained as principles of life. Even though this research deals with the developmental process of medicine & science and origin & principles of life implied in Mary Shelley's Frankenstein, its significance is that it is the interdisciplinary research focussing on how deeply medical and scientific discourse of Mary Shelley's period has been imbedded in the nineteenth century novel.

Keyword

Frankenstein; Mary Shelley; Biomedicine; Medicine and Science; Life Principle; Mechanism; Vitalism; Convergence
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