To live in the today’s world is to be surrounded by the products of science. For it is science that gave our society color television, the bottle of aspirin, and the polyester shirt. Thus, science has greatly enhanced our society; yet, our society are still afraid of the effect of science. This fear of science can be traced back to the nineteenth century where scientist had to be secretative in experimenting with science. Although science did wonders in the nineteenth century, many people feared science and its effects because of the uncertainty results of science. Our thrist for science can be traced back through many decades. However, the nineteenth century society felt that science was a great investment towards a better life. This investment in science gave the nineteenth century society the discovery of light waves and radio waves, the electric motors, the first photograph and telephone, and the first publication of the periodic table. Science also caused an uproar in society when Charles Darwin published The Origin of Species, which became the scientific basis for the study of the evolution of humans.
Many people in the nineteenth century detested Darwin’s theory of the evolution of man because it went against their religion, which believed that God created the world. Science, soon, developed the big bang theory, which states that earth was created by the attraction of atoms. The nineteenth century society was afraid of science because it contradicted their beliefs, and was afraid that the results of science would lead to the destruction of mankind. Thus, the study of science was limited because of fear of its effects. The fear of the effects of science was expressed in literature. Novels like Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, the Time Machine, and Frankenstein showed the dangers of science and that science would soon lead to the destruction of mankind. The novel Frankenstein is about a man name Victor Frankenstein who wanted to tamper with life and death by “exploring unknown powers, and unfold to the world the deepest mysteries of creation.” (Frankenstein, pg.40)
He acquired the knowledge of science when he attended the university of Ingolstadt, and once the knowledge of science was gained, Frankenstein went to his secret laboratory to create a creature with gigantic stature. At first, Frankenstein had doubts about creating a human being; however, with “the improvement which every day takes place in science and mechanics, [he] was encouraged to hope [his] present attempts would at least lay the foundation of future success.” (Frankenstein, pg.47) Once Frankenstein created his human being, his dream was vanished because he had accomplished his dream. His dream of creating a human being soon turned into a nightmare. For Frankenstein created a monster who had no identity, and was willing to murder all of Frankenstein’s loved ones if Frankenstein did not create another female creature.
Victor Frankenstein refused to create another female monster to accompany his monster. Thus, the monster felt that he had no choice but to take away Frankenstein’s family, just to show how Victor Frankenstein would feel being alone in the world. The murder of William Frankenstein (Victor’s younger brother) caused Victor to believe that his own creature had murdered his younger brother because “nothing in human shape could have destroyed that fair child.” (Frankenstein, pg.74) Frankenstein knew from then on that he had “turned loose into the world a depraved wretch, whose delight was in carnage and misery.” (Frankenstein, pg.74) Frankenstein’s monster caused “the death of William, the execution of Justine (a servant of the Frankenstein since childhood, who was framed by Frankenstein’s monster), the murder of Clerval (Frankenstein’s closes friend since childhood) and lastly [Victor’s] wife (Elizabeth Lavenza).” (Frankenstein, pg.213)
Frankenstein not only blamed the murders of his loved ones on his monster, he blamed himself for creating the monster. Throughout Frankenstein, the words “friend, monster, daemon, vile insect, enemy, and abhorred devil” were used by Frankenstein to describe the monster which he had created. In a way, the monster is protrayed as science and Frankenstein’s fear of and hatred towards the monster or science is expressed throught Frankenstein. Thus, Frankenstein is a novel which proved to society that science is dangerous. That, we should not tamper with life using science since it will only lead to disaster. Another novel which expressed society’s hatred and fear of science through literature is the Time Machine.
The story is about a Time Traveller who believed that there was no difference between Time and any of the three dimensions of space except that the consciousness of a human being moves along Time in a single direction from the beginning to the end of his or her life. He secretly experimented with his theory by building a machine that could travel in any direction through Space and Time. Like Frankenstein, in the Time Machine, the Time Traveller had doubts about his creation of the time machine, for, he knew that the time machine could destroy him. When he did succeed in time travelling, his machine was stolen by the Morlocks, and he was afraid that he would be stuck in an unknown world forever, he expressed that his invention of the time machine was useless. As he says, The thought of the years I had spent in study and toil to get into the future age, and now my passion and anxiety to get out of it. I had made myself the most complicated and the most hopeless trap that a man devised. (Time Machine, pg.48)
H.G Wells’s Time Machine gave the nineteenth century society an insight into what the future holds, and shared that people should be afraid of the effects of science because science could end one’s life. The Time traveller in Time Machine returned to tell his adventures which none of his friends believed. Thus, he was so determine to bring back proof, that he went to the future. However, during his second journey in time, the Time traveller “just vanished three years ago, and as everybody knows now, he has never returned.” (Time Machine pg.117) In the Time Machine, the effect of science caused the Time traveller to be captured within Time. Thus, the creation of the Time machine caused the disappearance of a human being which led people to fear science because it could lead to the destruction of hunmanity.
Another novel in which the immense interest in science led to the death of a human being and provoked its readers to fear the effect of science in the nineteenth century is Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. Basically the novel is about a doctor name Henry Jekyll who wanted to expriment (using science) with the theory that every man has a dual personality, that there will always be an evil side and good side of a person. In proving his theory, Dr. Jekyll mixed up a potion using chemicals that would break the chain of good and evil. The evil side, Edward Hyde, could enjoy all the wicked pleasures and execute all of Dr. Jekyll’s angry, and vengeful wishes, yet, Dr. Jekyll does not have to be afraid of his conscience. Since Mr. Hyde was pure evil and was affected by science, Stevenson tells his readers that science is evil through Hyde’s actions, and through the characters like Utterson whose descriptions of Hyde is immense horrifying.
As he says, Mr. Hyde was pale and dwarfish; he gave an impression of deformity without any namable malformation, he had a displeasing smile, …, and he spoke with a husky whispering and somewhat broken voice, …God bless methe man seems hardly human! (Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde pg.20) Like Frankenstein, the words “evil, satan, and devilish” were all used to describe Mr. Hyde. Thus, the point which Stevenson might be getting across to his reader in the nineteenth century is that science is evil and satanic, which everyone in the society should be afraid of. The nineteenth century society was not the only society that is afraid of science. Even now, our society is afraid of the effects of science. Take for instance the creation of nuclear energy plants around the world.
These nuclear energy plants can do wonders to our society; however, many people are afraid of the fact that if there was an accident in the plant the whole nuclear plant would blow up. This accident in the nuclear plants can eliminate many cities around them. Science makes the destruction of humanity possible. For instance, the nuclear atom bomb which was fired on Hiroshima by the U.S.A caused many deaths and mutants resulted in the surviving generations of the bomb. Movies like Jurassic Park display the dangers of science, and the money wasted in building a park that is filled with danger.
Thus, like the nineteenth century society, our fear about science have not died out. Although science enchanced the nineteenth century, it (science) was feared by many because of its uncertain effects. According to Chemistry Today, “science is a human activity which is directed towards gaining new knowledge about the composition and the functioning of matter, both living and nonliving.” (Chemistry Today, pg.2) In other words, science is justified if a single “new fact (appears) and adds a brick to the bright temple of human knowledge.” Because science is so extensive and its effect is uncertain, mankind will always fear science. After all, our thrist for science can led to the destruction of mankind