Fear of Science and Medical Anxiety Essay Assignment

Fear of Science and Medical Anxiety Essay Assignment

Fear of Science and Medical Anxiety Assignment – Eighteenth and nineteenth centuries in Europe are known to have been plagued by diseases. During these periods the medical profession experienced growth as they looked for new ways to cure and prevent diseases that had previously affected many people. For example, Clayton and Rowbotham note that in the period between 1850 and 1880, “the British population had risen significantly and had become increasingly urbanised, but the great public health movement had not yet been established and Britain’s towns and cities were still notoriously unhealthy environments” (1235). New ways of disease management and cure were constantly being discovered through experimentation. Because of industrial revolution during this period, scientists became interested in the discovery of new improved methods of diagnosis and treatment. This led to a significant change in society’s view of diseases. This put forth new methods of investigation into the workings of the human body. These advancements inspired literary writers of this era. Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein or The Modern Prometheus (1818) and Bram Stoker’s Dracula(1897) are the most notable texts that delved into the theme of diseases which have a scientific explanation. While Frankestein focuses on humanity grappling with science and its dangers, Dracula is a promise of the positive nature of science. This project aims at looking at the fears created by science in Frankenstein and the diseases depicted in Dracula. Fear of Science and Medical Anxiety Essay Assignment.


Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein (1818)

Mary Shelly’s Frankenstein can sound like a horror story to someone who has never gone through the novel, however, in reality, it has many underlying themes and angles. A reader cannot help but feel pity for the so-called monster, who has been shunned by both his creator and the society. Buy Fear of Science and Medical Anxiety Essay Assignment. The motivation behind the novel seems to be to curb the unchecked use of science. As Chin-Yee notes, “Frankenstein is often cited today as a warning against the dangers posed by unbridled pursuit of scientific knowledge and dominion over nature” (42). It was written in an era when scientific inventions, biological ones to be more precise, were increasing in number. Biological warfare even did not seem to be an implausible thing. It is at this juncture the author writes what the effects can be if one uses science to create things that cannot be controlled. Buy Fear of Science and Medical Anxiety Essay Assignment.

Fear of Science

Mary Shelley tries to point out that science can be scary but useful at the same time. The book came as a warning of the detrimental effects of uncontrolled science. Victor Frankenstein seems to look like he has no idea of the outcomes of what he has done, and he shows irresponsibility to bear the consequences. Brooks says “It is worth noting that every time nature is invoked in the novel, as a moral presence presiding over human life, it appears to produce only the monstrous” (Brooks 591). By showing the fear in the heart of the inventor as well, this subject has the possibility of simply creating a monster that might just kill and destroy the human race completely. Essentially, the author advises that man should make sure he deals with science with great caution. The story has a strong element of science, especially given that Victor mentions scientists for example Galvani, Franklin, and Ritter in his research. Shelley chooses to involve these scientists to convey the power of science.Fear of Science and Medical Anxiety Essay Assignment.

Science represents the power and control over people. In fact Victor Frankenstein says, “When I found so astonishing a power placed within my hands, I hesitated a long time concerning the manner in which I should employ it… I doubted at first whether I should attempt the creation of a being like myself, or one of simpler organization; but my imagination was too much exalted by my first success to permit me to doubt of my ability to give life to an animal as complete and wonderful as man” (Shelley 53).This acknowledgment of the danger and Victor’s doubts of what the dangers could be, make us believe that science can take over our conscience and create in us the need to play God. Buy Fear of Science and Medical Anxiety Essay Assignment.

By using bizarre scientific experiments, he creates tension and fear of the unknown. It is true that experiments cannot be 100% predictable, so when it comes to creating a life, and only by a student of science, the result comes closer to risk and undesirable consequences. The thoughts by Frankenstein are that at some point, human beings will continue to look for scientific ways to make them immortal. However, in the end, it is emphasized that scientific inventions are never emotional beings and might not in any way even understand how they can turn to be delusional. Man is a unique being with all its physical and emotional characteristics, and the attempt to replicate him in a laboratory can be deadly. Before Frankenstein created his monster, he asks himself a theological question regarding human life: “Whence, I often asked myself, did the principle of life proceed?” (Shelley 50). He then attempts to answer with scientific means by “getting acquainted with the science of anatomy” and by studying “the natural decay and corruption of the human body” (Shelley 51). Even as he continues with his creation, he asks, “Who was I? What was I? Whence did I come? What was my destination?” He admits, “These questions continually recurred, but I was unable to solve them.” (Shelley 152). Fear of Science and Medical Anxiety Essay Assignment.

Although he tries to be rational about his venture, he thinks scientific discipline is correlated with destiny.  He says, “natural philosophy is the genius that has regulated my fate” (Shelley 34). In the article “’Frankenstein’ Reflects the Hopes and Fears of Every Scientific Era”, the author notes that “there is no great invention, from fire to flying, which has not been hailed as an insult to some god” (Ball 2). Frankenstein thinks that the boundary between life and death is imaginary, “Life and death appeared to me ideal bounds, which I should first break through, and pour a torrent of light into our dark world. A new species would bless me as its creator and source; many happy and excellent natures would owe their being to me” (Shelley 54). Despite wishing that his creation would owe him their life, it is ironical that his monster is out of control and Frankenstein becomes miserable. Buy Fear of Science and Medical Anxiety Essay Assignment.

In short, the novel is a warning to all those rogue scientists who try to conduct experiments which would have no positive effects of humanity. Sometimes, the intention can be noble; however, the actual consequences can be disastrous. That is why in the modern days, there are protocols and rules in place, so that accidents can be controlled quickly and that it does not spread. In a modern era laboratory, even if a scientist could get the requisite approvals create a ‘monster’, as soon as it is seen that the invention is uncontrollable and harmful, the laboratory would be quarantined until the threat can be contained. Buy Fear of Science and Medical Anxiety Essay Assignment.

The Creation of the Monster and the Galvanic Electricity

Mary Shelley was inspired by several scientific discoveries of her time. Shelley writes that during her stay in Switzerland in 1816, Lord Byron and Percy B. Shelley conversed about the experiments of Dr Erasmus Darwin, where the effects of galvanism and reanimation were brought up, “They talked of the experiments of Dr. Darwin, (I speak not of what the Doctor really did, or said that he did, but, as more to my purpose, of what was then spoken of as having been done by him,) who preserved a piece of vermicelli in a glass case, till by some extraordinary means it began to move with voluntary motion. Not thus, after all, would life be given. Perhaps a corpse would be re-animated; galvanism had given token of such things: perhaps the component parts of a creature might be manufactured, brought together, and endured with vital warmth” (Shelley 1). This explains why Frankenstein explores issues in science. Fear of Science and Medical Anxiety Essay Assignment.

The discovery of electricity’s power on a living organism by Benjamin Galvani which is referred to as galvanism is profound in the novel. Frankenstein’spreface dedicates itself to explaining the motivation behind Shelley’s idea of galvanism in her novel.  Shelley chose this idea which led her to the concept of the creation of life through electrical movement.   She writes, “I saw – with shut eyes, but acute mental vision, – I saw the pale student of unhallowed arts kneeling beside the thing he had put together. I saw the hideous phantasm of a man stretched out, and then, on the working of some powerful engine, show signs of life, and stir with an uneasy, half vital motion.” (Shelley 1).  Buy Fear of Science and Medical Anxiety Essay Assignment. This only serves as more evidence of Shelley’s interaction with the scientific experiment of galvanism being conducted at the time.

Frankenstein’s discovery of creating life introduces the duality of science, of electricity, and Victor Frankenstein himself. Although scientific experiments are performed for a purpose of finding ways of improving the quality of human life, the negative effects cannot be overlooked. Just as science can end up creating dual reactions, electricity holds this same power. Electricity’s negative and positive forces pull away from each other. This example of electricity’s duality can be applied to many aspects of Frankenstein, including good versus evil, and even to Frankenstein himself. He understands the power he possesses; yet he acts anyway. He has all the control and the knowledge in the beginning, but is left powerless in the end. Buy Fear of Science and Medical Anxiety Essay Assignment. Victor creates life because of his own greed, and the monster haunts him to the end because of it. The very monster to which he gives life strives to destroy him.

Throughout the novel, it is apparent that Frankenstein is obsessed with the idea of creating life. Electricity serves as a source of life. He becomes god-like as he creates his doppelganger. He says, “After days and nights of incredible labour and fatigue, I succeeded in discovering the cause of generation and life; nay, more, I became myself capable of bestowing animation upon lifeless matter.” (Shelley 52). Actually the monster’s characteristics resemble those of his creator.  Fear of Science and Medical Anxiety Essay Assignment.  For example, Frankenstein does not really know who he is just like his creature.

Treating the Monster as an Object

After Victor created his monster, he treated him as an object and not as if he was his own creation. When the readers look at Victor as the physician and the monster as the patient who needs care, one can see through this situation what Michel Foucault called the medical gaze. Whereas this term is used to describe the physician who looks to his patient in a very dehumanized way as if he were just a group of organs, not a person. The creature in the story was not given a species or identity or even a name, which makes us believe that he is inhumane and scary, but in fact, Victor Frankenstein was the inhumane figure and not the monster. Buy Fear of Science and Medical Anxiety Essay Assignment.

In the tenth chapter of the book, Frankenstein’s creation laments, “Remember that I am thy creature; I ought to be thy Adam, but I am rather the fallen angel, whom thou drivest from joy for no misdeed. Everywhere I see bliss, from which I alone am irrevocably excluded. I was benevolent and good; misery made me a fiend. Make me happy, and I shall again be virtuous,”  (Shelley 114). The creature is lamenting Victor’s treatment towards him. He wants to be an equal to His creator. Being created from human body parts, the reanimated creature goes to great lengths to seek revenge on his master for rejecting him. Stemming from a special romantic perspective of the potential of science, the monster never had the chance to experience his creator’s support and guidance, or feel his love. This shows how human beings do not care about the consequences of their actions. Victor looks more monstrous than his creature, the creature even says, “you are in the wrong,’ replied the fiend; ‘and instead of threatening, I am content to reason with you. I am malicious because I am miserable. Am I not shunned and hated by all mankind? You, my creator, would tear me to pieces and triumph; remember that, and tell me why I should pity man more than he pities me?”(Shelley 174-175).

Victor never intended to create this creature to raise it or take care of it, but to play the role of god and to feel the power. Unfortunately, things went against Victor’s will and the monster did not turn out as he expected. “The beauty of the dream vanished, and breathless horror and disgust filled my heart.” (Shelley,36). Victor is no longer a god and felt that he created something that will be an overload on him, so he decided to evade and deny his creation. This outlook becomes even more important in the modern era, when even though not biologically, technologically humans are closer than ever to creating new life. Some would even argue that this feat has already been achieved. Some of the modern robots and AIs are significantly more intelligent that human beings and no one can say with conviction that they do not have awareness, emotion, and feelings. Once those develop, such object cannot be rightly treated as ‘objects’ and not living beings. As Frankenstein shows, the consequences of such treatment can be deadly. Frankenstein’s creation was lonely and rejected; he was desperate for love and companionship, which he was never given. Fear of Science and Medical Anxiety Essay Assignment.

Unlike in Dracula which did not directly address science or scientific innovations, Frankenstein seems to be warning all the existing rogue scientists who are trying to carry out experiments or come up with innovations which have no positive impact on humanity. Buy Fear of Science and Medical Anxiety Essay Assignment. Additionally, in Frankenstein’s novel, it was noted that the scientists might have a noble reason for conducting the experiments or innovating, but their innovations could have disastrous consequences on humanity.

There exist many scientific experiments that have gone the wrong way or have led to unintended negative consequences on humanity. Such experiments and innovations have been generally referred to as bad science. An example of bad science is Tuskegee Syphilis Experiment. The study was conducted with the aim of recording the natural history of the disease to justify the treatment programs for African Americans. The participants in this study comprised of 399 African American men with syphilis and 201 without syphilis. In this study, the researchers did not seek informed consent from the participants. The participants were deceived that they were being treated for “bad blood,” a term that was used to describe different ailments (including syphilis). The participants were not given syphilis treatment. The study had devastating impacts on the participants. Buy Fear of Science and Medical Anxiety Essay Assignment. The study led to deaths of the participants and syphilis-related complications. Out of the 399 healthy subjects, 28 died of syphilis while 100 died due to syphilis-related complications. Syphilis was also passed to their wives, and some of their children were born having the infection too.

Bram Stoker’s Dracula (1897)

During the 19th C when Dracula was written, disease was understood through two theories: miasma theory and germ theory. The Medicinenet says that Miasma theory postulates that “a poisonous vapor or mist believed to be made up of particles from decomposing material could cause disease and could be identified by its foul smell.” This was plausible because of rapid industrialization and urbanization had created many poor, filthy and foul-smelling city neighborhoods. Germ theory’s concept is that diseases are caused by a living organism referred to as bacteria. Over time, miasma theory was disproven because it was only applicable when there was a foul smell. Therefore germ theory, popularly known as bacteriology became popular. Buy Fear of Science and Medical Anxiety Essay Assignment. Dracula presents the disease of vampirism in various diseases. Willis says, “Vampirism is both infection and illness” (302).

Miasma theory and germ theory are presented in Dracula. For example Jonathan Harker describes Dracula’s castle as foul-smelling, unsightly and sickening. He says, “…in a ruined building open to the air, but here the place was small and close, and the long disuse had made the air stagnant and foul. There was an earthy smell, as of some dry miasma, which came through the fouler air. But as to the odour itself, how shall I describe it? It was not alone that it was composed of all the ills of mortality and with the pungent, acrid smell of blood, but it seemed as though corruption had become itself corrupt.” (Stoker 358-359). The air is polluted and as miasma theory suggests, this could cause sickness. In representing the germ theory, Van Helsing uses garlic as an antibiotic to help cure Lucy (Stoker 188-189). However Martin Willis points at the contradiction of the two theories: Lucy’s mother removes the garlic and opens the windows to let in fresh air. This seems to make Lucy more vulnerable to illness. Willis points out that this is Stoker’s way of saying, “miasmatism is an exploded paradigm that should be replaced by the principles of germ theory” (313). Dracula explores the use of science and traditional belief in the cure of diseases.

Industrial revolution and rapid urbanization in the 19th Century led to a rise in prostitution. This way, sexually transmitted diseases could be spread easily from one person to the other. Vampirism can metaphorically refer to sexually transmitted infections, for example syphilis. Syphilis is a venereal disease caused by a bacteria and its symptoms include a rash and wart-like growths on the backside of the person infected (Avelleira & Bottino 113-114). The weird sisters attempt to seduce Jonathan.  Fear of Science and Medical Anxiety Essay Assignment. This shows how prostitutes would seduce their clients and might lead to the contraction of sexually transmitted diseases,

There are varied opinions concerning what inspired Bram Stoker to write Dracula.  However, because an author is part of the society, his/her writing will reflect a society’s events. The author often gets the themes, style and characters that reflect the cultural values and changes that take place in the society he/she lives. The main theme in Dracula is the importance of blood in a person’s health. Dracula says, “Blood is too precious a thing in these days of dishonourable peace, and the glories of the great races are as a tale that is told.’” (44). The Victorians had a strong belief in the corruption of blood. This is represented in Dracula literally and figuratively. Postmodernists have an extensive understanding of blood contamination epidemic. In the age of AIDS and widespread HIV,  there is always the fear of coming into contact with contaminated blood. Buy Fear of Science and Medical Anxiety Essay Assignment. Bak says it is a “plague not only of sexual transgression but also, and if not more so, of Third-World poverty and postcolonial wreckage—Dracula seems as poised as ever to haunt humanity” (4). Dracula depicts the fear of the foreign, which could represent the invasion of the body by disease causing organism that may be passed through body fluid for example blood

Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) has been reported to change its shape thus enabling it to survive in the host without being killed using medications or by the host’s defence mechanism. In 2005, structural biologists established that a key part of the HIV changes shape, leading to other changes that make it easy for the virus to enter and infect a cell (Sharp & Hahn 4). Figuratively as portrayed in Dracula, Dracula’s major characteristic is the ability to shape shift at will. He was capable of growing and becoming small, like mist, fog, a wolf of a bat. In the presence of shining moonlight, he could travel as elemental dust within its rays. He could also move past tiny crevices or cracks without changing its human form (Stoker 23, 24, 26-27).  Fear of Science and Medical Anxiety Essay Assignment. These characteristics can be conceived to mirror those of HIV.

Xeroderma pigmentosum, also commonly known as XP is a genetic disorder. It was first discovered in 1870 by the dermatologist Dr. Mritz Kaposi. This condition has been described as an “extreme sensitivity to sunlight, resulting in sun burn, pigment changes in the skin and a greatly elevated incidence of skin cancers” (Lehman, Stefanini & Mcgibbon 1). This condition mostly affects the eyes and areas of skin exposed to the sun. Some affected individuals also have problems involving the nervous system. People with xeroderma pigmentosum have a greatly increased risk of developing skin cancer without sun protection. (Ferrier 428). The XP symptoms match the main character in Stoker’s book. Symptoms may include severe sunburn after only a few minutes in the sun, freckling of exposed areas, dry skin, and eye redness. Dracula was portrayed in movies as a strong vampire with dry skin red eyes and sharp yellow teeth, as if he was the typical image of the disease. Furthermore, children who suffer from this disease are called children of the night, those children are doomed to live their lives after sunset to protect them from sunlight and prevent the increased symptoms of chronic disease. Stoker usethis term in his novel referring to those who were transferred to vampires by Dracula, who was considered the knight of darkness in the novel. “Listen to them, the children of the night. Buy Fear of Science and Medical Anxiety Essay Assignment. What music they make!”(Stoker 4).

Rabies is a viral disease that is passed through body fluid by either a bite or a scratch. It is usually associated with dogs and bats. Its early symptoms include aggression, hallucination, body weakness and fever. The World Health Organization adds that advanced disease symptoms are hydrophobia and aerophobia. Lucy’s infection from the Dracula’s bite makes him weak and aggressive. She becomes “a nightmare of Lucy” (Stoker 90). Additionally, Van Helsing seems to be making reference to Dracula’s hydrophobia. He says, “[Dracula] can only pass running water at the slack or the flood of the tide,” (Stoker 212) and aerophobia can be seen in the vampires’ choice dusty dwellings. The rabies virus was frequently associated with bats, and it is possible that the virus actually originated from these creatures but has just transmitted itself to other animals such as rats (Plotkin 4).Fear of Science and Medical Anxiety Essay Assignment. As with HIV, Dracula’s shape shifting from a bat to a wolf can be a representation of rabies.

Porphyrias are a group of rare inherited blood disorders. Acute intermittent porphyria happens because of problem with low hemoglobin in red blood cells that bind oxygen and carry oxygen throughout the body. People with these disorders do not make heme, a component of hemoglobin (protein in red blood cells that carries oxygen) properly. This disease may lead to a feeling of extreme desire to take any source of iron, such as blood and soil, because of lack of hemoglobin. Stevenson says that in attempt to satisfy his deficiency, Count Dracula attacks his victims in order to gain the victim’s ‘vital fluid’ (cited in Dang 7). Buy Fear of Science and Medical Anxiety Essay Assignment. The fluid that is vital to human beings because lack of blood or a decrease in the required amount could be fatal.

Unlike Frankenstein that does not offer rational answers to questions raised by science, Dracula give the effects of science and how science can be used to save humanity. The world keeps on developing more love towards science and that as times move, people tend to think more about the benefits that science brings in and not the amount of humanity that we get to show each other “The emotion of horror is a combination of fear and revulsion and it is related closely to terror, a feeling of fear and anxiety” (Colavito 13). When we have science taking such a huge leap, it becomes very risky because in that case, man is the subsidiary because of the belief that everything can be done better and perfectly with robots gains more strength. Buy Fear of Science and Medical Anxiety Essay Assignment. Dracula is a key believer that science is absolutely positive and at the same time comes in with a big fear which is that it might it the same people that created them.

Dracula, in this case, points out that science is not a reliable source of humanity’s solutions. In cases where people do not care about how science can be harmful, it becomes hard for the rest of the world to know which the correct position that should be opted for . The main solution that most people want to take is to simply use scientific inventions to replace what man has been doing and they always think that they can do this best through advancing more technology and bettering the habits of science. “Modern societies are far less concerned with religion and the presence or lack thereof of God in any particular text and are more concerned with science and its potential consequences” (Hultquist & Rachel 6). In this case, the author is stressing on the fact that the modern-day societies are more concerned with how science is moving. Fear of Science and Medical Anxiety Essay Assignment. Aspects related to religion and conscience are deemed to be rebuttable thoughts by selfish humans.

Vampirism in Dracula reflects many diseases. Rabies and HIV are represented by the Dracula’s ability to shape shift into different creatures that can be thought to represent the viruses that take different shapes in the human body to avoid detection. Syphilis is reflected by the seductresses’ attempts on Jonathan Harker. A society plagued by diseases can be plunged into fear and anxiety. Fear of Science and Medical Anxiety Essay Assignment. Therefore, there is the need to find solutions to restore a fear free healthy society.