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Comparing Frankenstein, Origin of the Species and Decent of Man

Comparing Frankenstein, Origin of the Species and Decent of Man

I will demonstrate in this paper how Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein confirms, and at the same time contradicts Darwin’s ideas presented in “The Origin of the Species” and “The Decent of Man.”

Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein is at once, confirming, and contradictory of Charles Darwin’s scientific discoveries and views on science, nature and the relation of the individual to society. Mary Shelley confirms Darwin’s ideas through Frankenstein, when Dr. Frankenstein and Darwin both reject God as the creator of human life. Although this is a major theme in both works, it is the only similar idea shared between both Darwin and Frankenstein. Darwin’s understanding of nature is comparable to that of Mary Shelley; although how the individual relates to society is gravely different between the two works. One of Darwin’s admiring disciples, Andrew Carnegie, the author of “The Gospel of Wealth,” shows us how contradictory these ideas are in relation to each other. His ideas of inheritance and the conduct of man are in disagreement with the actions of Shelley’s Dr. Frankenstein.

Throughout Darwin’s works the idea of the rejection of God as creator of man prevails. He alludes to prehistoric marine Ascidian larvae, as the predecessors to the later evolved human beings we are today. This would give credit for the creation of man to the process of evolution, not to the handiwork of a Supreme Being. “Species had not been independently created, but had descended, like varieties, from other species”(Appleman, 36). Darwin is showing here what conclusions he came upon about the “Origin of the Species”, in which he used science to prove his theories. He is replacing God with ideas…

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…heir works, giving the power of creation to evolution and mankind. They also both present similar views on nature, seeing it as a tool for scientific exploration and not as a wonder of beauty as it is often seen today. Using the work of Andrew Carnegie to show Darwinian ideas about the individual in society, we can see that these ideas strongly contradict those which Shelley presents in Frankenstein. Overall I believe that Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein exemplifies many ideas expressed in the works of Darwin, enough that they can be considered enriching of each other in terms of comparison.

Works Cited:

Darwin, Charles. The Origin of Species. New York: Gramercy Books, 1979.

Darwin, Charles. The Descent Of Man. Amherst, NY: Prometheus Books, 1998.

Shelley, Mary. Frankenstein. Ed. D.L. Macdonald and Kathleen Scherf. Orchard Park, NY: Broadview Press, 1999.

The Value of Life in The Most Dangerous Game

The Value of Life in The Most Dangerous Game

He is hunched down in the bushes, a .22-caliber pistol in his hand. His blood-red lips split open in a smile as he watches his prey writhing, blood spouting from the wound, dry green leaves becoming wet crimson. Then, with a terrible pleasure, he places the gun against the skull of his prey and fires one last round. The hunter, brimming with sadism, drags his kill behind him, leaving a trail of blood behind on the ground. Human blood. This premise of man hunting man is one set up by Richard Connell’s short story The Most Dangerous Game.

The dominant theme to this story is that all life is to be respected and preserved. A proof for this is that the protagonist, Rainsford, is at first disrespectful of animals when he hunts. He is then placed into the animal’s role in a twisted hunt, and—due to the horrors he experiences—becomes more respectful. More support to back this claim is that General Zaroff, the epitome of disregard for life, is defeated by Rainsford at the end. However, this is not the most accurate theme of the story, and these examples also support another theme: animals, and life in general, are not respected and never truly will be, and we should all come to terms with this fact.

Let us primarily take into consideration the aspect that Rainsford at first cares not for animals, but his view is altered by his experiences with Zaroff. First, we must prove that Rainsford really did not care for animals. Let us look at the conversation on the boat between Rainsford and Whitney. Here is a quote:

“[…] Great sport, hunting.”

“The best sport in the world,” agreed Rainsford.

“For the hunter,” amended Whitney. …

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…en that—and then takes Zaroff’s things, including his style of hunting, it is apparent that Rainsford has become worse, even as bad as General Zaroff.

Conclusively, as the main character of The Most Dangerous Game fails to learn from such a horrible experience the value of life, a society that has not been subjected to such an experience will also not know the value of life. Our disrespect has gotten even to the point where our children are killing their fellow children. The value of life in all its forms has not been discovered by all of society, and it never will. We must learn to cope with that fact, or we will all be, in the words of Sanger Rainsford, huntees of our own nature.

Works Cited:

Connell, Richard. “The Most Dangerous Game.” Structure, Sound and Sense . Eds. Laurence Perrine and Thomas R. Arp. 4th ed. New York: Harcourt, 1983.

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