Frankenstein: Science Then CRAM

This is not Frankenstein. This is the creature.


Luigi Galvani (1737- 1798) started the science of Galvanism which is the contraction of a muscle stimulated by an electric current. He observed the leg of a frog twitch when struck by an electric current.

On the first application of the process to the face, the jaws of the deceased criminal began to quiver, and the adjoining muscles were horribly contorted, and one eye was actually opened. In the subsequent part of the process the right hand was raised and clenched, and the legs and thighs were set in motion.

Galvani's nephew, Giovanni Aldini, continued Galvani's study by trying to reanimate hanged criminals. The "Murder Act" of 1752 allowed him to do this because it added the punishment of dissection to hanging. Aldini did have some success on George Forster who was found guilty of killing his wife and child. Forster's right hand was raised and clenched, his legs moved, and his eye opened.

After a debate between two surgeons, William Lawrence and John Abernethy, concerning the ethics behind raising people to life, it was concluded to be immoral. The study of galvanism was essentially stopped.


Phrenology is the detail study of the shape and size of the cranium as a supposed indication of the character and mental abilities.

Human Anatomy

Medical Practices

In the early 1800s, they used blood letting. Later on, they used topical treatments, as opposed to the pills we use today. These treatments focused on treating the symptoms rather than the illness itself.


Relations to Frankenstein

Mary Shelley's fascination for galvanism and the idea of life arising from death is apparent throughout Frankenstein. We first see this passion in a quote in the preface:

"I saw the hideous phantasm of a man stretched out, and then, on the working of some powerful engine, show signs of life..."

this draws a parallel with how Victor Frankenstein gave the secret of life to the creature. "I collected the instruments of life around me, that I might infuse a spark of being into the lifeless thing that lay at my feet."

The anatomy and physical appearance of the creature is quite significant. He is described as a creature or a monster with "dull, yellow eyes," and pale see through-like skin, and has a gigantic stature. He is not human, and he is not seen as such. He has a hideous appearance, and people flee when they behold him. This adds to the fearful tone of the book and gothic theme.

The creature's existence also relates to the phrenology of the time period. The creature is not the dumb, zombie-like monster that society has now made him out to be. In the book, Victor Frankenstein created an intelligent being capable of reason, emotion, and persuasion. We see evidence of this when the creature learns the language of the DeLacey family and how convincing he is when he persuades Victor to create a second companion.


Created with images by skeeze - "frankenstein monster boris karloff"

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