Forbidden knowledge and anxiety about science seems to be a recurring theme in science fiction stories. Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein is a good example of how powerful nature can be, as well as a warning against going too far in pursuing the forbidden knowledge of science and technology. Even though, Victor’s quest to recreate a human being proved to be successful, the cost of the experiment far outweighed his success. One would think it would be something to celebrate, but instead he ends up alienating his creation because of the disgust he feels towards him. This action caused the wretch to take matters into his own hands. He began to let his loneliness turn into evil, which led him to kill those closest to Victor, his creator. Shelley shows how powerful nature is when the wretch sometimes shows that he can be compassionate and loving. However, his hateful tendencies hides that power of nature also. The power of nature is also proven with the death of both Victor and the wretch in the end. Nature took its toll on Victor because of all the remorse he had for creating the wretch, and essentially the wretch turns himself over to nature. In my opinion, it seems that Shelley’s warnings are too beware of going out of the bounds of mankind with science experiments, and not to underestimate how the power of nature works in life.
The second text I think that shows these warning signs in science is Nathaniel Hawthorne’s “Rappacinni’s Daughter”. It shows the morals of experimental knowledge against humanity as well. Hawthorne puts multiple meanings in this story, which makes it so powerful, as well as emotionally convincing. Dr. Rappacinni is a mad scientist that basically poisons his own daughter with a gorgeous poisonous plant that she cares for in his garden. Rappacinni’s daughter, Beatrice, is an innocent pawn that becomes the subject at the center of her father’s experiment and rival with Professor Baglioni. Dr. Rappacinni is a miserable, lonely man who only sees his daughter as an experiment, instead of a human being with feelings herself. This shows the moral disregard towards others. When his daughter falls in love with Giovanni, he realizes that she is “cursed”. The poison was her element of life, and when she touched Giovanni it left a purple hand print. Giovanni is warned of the doctor’s dangerous experiments by his tutor, Professor Baglioni. He disregards what he has been told. He longed to be with Beatrice regardless of her “curse”. Professor Baglioni wants to protect Giovanni, and gives him a vile that he said contains an antidot that would cure Beatrice. However, it kills her instead, and there is no happy ending. As Dr. Rappacinni says to his daughter, “Misery, to be as terrible as thou art beautiful” (Hawthorne 25). In my opinion, Hawthorne is warning the reader of the moral ethics when using science to your own advantage.