How Alchemy Altered Frankenstein


Frankenstein is a novel written by the English author Mary Shelley in 1818 tells the story of Victor Frankenstein, a youthful scientist who creates an incongruous but wise creature in an eccentric scientific experimentation. Even though alchemy and the alchemists, are hardly referred to in the novel, they are essential to the persistence of the plot. It is the alchemists and their notions, predominantly those of Paracelsus and the thought of the elixir of life, that drive Victor Frankenstein to pursue the idea of life through science, eventually leading Victor to the creation of the beast in Frankenstein.

Paracelsus was a Swiss alchemist and physician who perceived and used alchemic treatment above all other ideas of alchemy to help people. Paracelsus. This treatment would be able to lengthen the life of man by curing them, and consequently allow them to live an improved life. It was believed that the elixir of life, a goal of many alchemists, was the ultimate cordial that would allow a person to live forever. Considering this, an individual can asses¬†something similar to Victor’s idea in Frankenstein. Victor himself pursues the legendary elixir in the novel. Wealth meant nothing to him compared to what glory would follow the discovery. He wanted to remove illness from human existence completely.

A contemporary fallacy is that alchemy is the act of transfiguring objects such as wood and metal into gold and silver for material gain. In Frankenstein, the natural attitude that is mentioned views alchemists as those who wished to uncover the mystery of life and the creation of lifeless objects in addition to those who pursued to restore the human soul to excellence. Through viewing alchemy in such way, Victor desires to use the alchemy he learns from his educators to eliminate the state of death. This objective is not for wealth but for the benefit of the people.



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