In particular, the
influence of Romanticist philosophy which engulfed the Western hemisphere from the mid 18th
century onwards. It has to be understood that because Mary Shelley was strongly influenced by the
Romantics movement especially the fact that her husband and her own father were Romantic poets
that her novel, 'The Modern Prometheus' was not actually glorifying science but in fact the act of
criticizing science and the impact or cautionary tale of what science could become if left unchecked.
In a parallel comparison, a similar vein of scientific criticism can be seen today in movies such as The
Matrix Trilogy (1999) produced by the Wachowski brothers that depict a society which has overused
technology to the extent that man is controlled and fed to the machines as batteries after they have
lost the war to the robots in the Animatrix (2003)2.
The Romantic movement had focused itself on the going back to nature. Its ideals can be
depicted in poems by Lord Byron that suffered strong emotions under the backdrop of a moving wild
natural earthly state. It celebrated what was exotic and shunned the straightforward nature of
science3. The world was during this time and period more inclined towards development as
colonialism had allowed the Western world to prosper and create capitalism and thus the Industrial
Revolution. Development during this time was becoming more and more rapid and science was
beginning to replace religion as it provided more incentive and 'fact'. Facts that can be used and
manipulated to generate more money and capital in the use of making new technologies and
products. An example of how Mary Shelley depicts this is a scene taken from Chapter 3;
Partly from curiosity, and partly from...
He then took a cursory view of the present state of the science, and explained many of its elementary terms. After having made a few preparatory experiments, he concluded with a panegyric upon modern chemistry, the terms of which I shall never forget:--
"The ancient teachers of this science," said he, "promised impossibilities, and performed nothing. The modern masters promise very little; they know that metals cannot be transmuted, and that the elixir of life is a chimera. But these philosophers, whose hands seem only made to dabble in dirt, and their eyes to pore over the microscope or crucible, have indeed performed miracles. They penetrate into the recesses of nature, and show how she works in her hiding places. They ascend into the heavens: they have discovered how the blood circulates, and the nature of the air we breathe. They have acquired new and almost unlimited powers; they can command the thunders of heaven, mimic the earthquake, and even mock the invisible world with its own shadows."
The summer months passed while I was thus engaged, heart and soul, in one pursuit. It was a most beautiful season; never did the fields bestow a more plentiful harvest, or the vines yield a more luxuriant vintage: but my eyes were insensible to the charms of nature.
I was answered through the stillness of night by a loud and fiend