The Frankenstein Metaphor

Modern Man is the victim of the very instruments he values most. Every gain in power, every mastery of natural forces, every scientific addition to knowledge, has proved potentially dangerous, because it has not been accompanied by equal gains in self-understanding and moral characterLewis Mumford

Regardless of a person’s age, everyone remembers the movies about Frankenstein, the monster created by the ambition of a lone scientist from dismembered and dead bodies. What may not be known is that the Frankenstein tale was not intended as a typical horror story, but a commentary on the society of the time, a metaphor.

The human ability to think, learn and process complex thoughts has been the driving force that has allowed for the immense growth of technology in the last three decades. As fantastic as our human innovative qualities may be, our intellectual and technological growth has not always spawned ideas that produced results beneficial to mankind. Victor Frankenstein, although a fictitious character, provides a superb example of the vast potentiality of human intelligence, technology, and the morbid unintended consequences that it can create. For very real examples, one need only read the headlines of the newspaper to find a multitude of malicious and perverse atrocities that occur each day due to the “technology” gone haywire.

Technology is being integrated into nearly every facet of our daily lives, already forming a relationship of potentially hazardous dependence. We want our 3D flat screens, P.C.s, I-pads, smart phones, and kindles, and bedazzled by what they have to offer… we only desire more. The “smarter” the machine, it seems, the less we as humans have to do and the less we have to directly interface with others. They make life simple and naively we seem to maintain that we are master over this immense power, when daily the role is shifting as we become more and more attached to the perks technology seems to offer and less and less attached to our own humanity and our “real-time” relationships with fellow man.

This is why, in light of today, with technology gaining greater and greater power, we must really think about what we are doing when it comes to the education of our youth. As we push the envelope of knowledge and technology forward in our schools, we cannot forget to remember to expand our moral character at the same time. If we fail to do this, we will create a society of individuals armed with superior technologically, but handicapped by inferior morals. They will have the right tools, but they won’t know how to use them for good.

As we educate today’s youth let’s put as much effort into advancing their self-contemplation and character development as we do their technological and knowledge based skills, or we could easily open a Pandora’s box of monstrosities that could haunt and control us, just as Victor Frankenstein did when he gave life to his monster.

He gave Frankenstein “life”, but forgot to teach him how to “love”.