The Science and Integrity in Frankenstein and Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde

Subject: Literature
Type: Critical Analysis Essay
Pages: 3
Word count: 938
Topics: Book, Frankenstein, Scientific Method
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Introduction

It is a fact that literature remains the mirror of contemporary society and this is especially true for the literature that can be traced back to 16th and 17th century also known for the time-period when there was considerable progress in science and technology; for example, the two works that include the themes such as science and integrity such as Frankenstein and Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.

Thesis Statement

Both Frankenstein and Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde offers a valuable insight related to values of integrity and scientific thoughts in the 17th century as well as in the current society.

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About the Themes of Science and Integrity in English Literature

The topic related integrity and ethics remain vital in scientific research since the application of various scientific research that started in 16th and 17th century in Europe. Integrity in research can be defined as the use of verifiable and honest methods for proposing, performance and evaluation of research, following professional norms and codes as well as reporting research outcome with particular attention to rules, guidelines and regulations. Similarly, ethics in research includes minimization of risks or harm, informed consent, protection of anonymity and confidentiality. Further, it also includes avoiding deceptive practices and provides the participants a right to withdraw from the experiment.

The time-period when these novels were written was an exciting time for scientific research as many landmark discoveries were made and many machines were invented. However, there were many people who feared the misuse of science and this sentiment is reflected in both these novels.

The main focus of the protagonists of both stories, Frankenstein and Dr, Jekyll remains the welfare of humanity. In the beginning; the main focus of Frankenstein is to find the secret of life, and Dr. Jekyll is to control the quotient of good and evil human behavior. However, as time passes, both become victims of their scientific obsession and are compelled to engage in the kind of scientific experiments that crosses not only the ethical boundaries of scientific research, but also compromise their integrity and proves fatal for themselves (Shelley, & Nobes).

It goes without saying that there has been much research in ethics and integrity in science, for example, Ramsay in 1970 stated that as the scientists gain a greater access to research techniques, they are liable to go further without any thoughts related to ethical boundaries for the achievement of their scientific goals. He argues that the scientists should not cross ethical boundaries and if they do it, it may have been a dangerous outcome. For example, in both novels the protagonists Victor Frankenstein and Dr. Jekyll engage in questionable scientific conduct and various experimentations that compromise their integrity related to scientific research (Stevenson & Stevenson).

As per Deer, there are many researchers who do not engage in blatant scientific misconduct but still indulge in questionable conduct. For example, Frankenstein engages in various research practices when he experiments with human remains. As per current rules and regulations, he would have to fulfill a wide-range of legalities before starting experiments as the use of human cadavers in scientific research has been strictly regulated and require constant approval from the authorities. Similarly, the human experimentation practices that were followed Dr. Jekyll are considered as unacceptable research practice by modern research guidelines established by NIH or National Institute of Health even if the research subject was the protagonist himself (Stevenson & Stevenson).

One more aspect that can be explored as per integrity of the scientific research is the morality of scientific research. Teller in his research states that there can be a contradiction between the concepts that are morally right and scientific methodology that is used or scientific outcome. For example, although in both novels, the initial intent of both scientists, Frankenstein and Dr. Jekyll was to find ultimate answers related to the life and welfare of humanity, the methodology they incorporated in their research compromised the morality that prevailed during that time-period (Stevenson & Stevenson). For example, Frankenstein used the human cadaver to create a skeleton and brought it back from the dead (Shelley & Nobes). Similarly, Dr. Jekyll used drugs on himself to contain the good and bad qualities (Stevenson & Stevenson).

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In his work, Ioannidis contends that when researching integrity in scientific research, most of the scientists are inspired by various outside factors and due to it a large number of scientific studies are predisposed and it is paramount that the researchers understand and meet the ethical obligation. Both Frankenstein and Dr. Jekyll used ground-breaking technologies to use death for the creation of life as well as life for exploration of human behavior respectively (Shelley & Nobes). However, both of them were motivated to do their work due to the personal obsession that impeded their research and displayed the dark side of human life (Stevenson & Stevenson).

Conclusion

There is no doubt that contemporary literature remains a mirror of contemporary thoughts. One of the best examples of this remains the theme of science and integrity in both novels. Although the stories of these novels are completely different, there is a strong theme of scientific thought and integrity that runs through both stories. These stories offer an insight how despite both protagonists being brilliant scientists, how they ruined their life due to unethical research practices, a theme that is still relevant today (Shelley & Nobes). Thus, both Frankenstein and Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde offers a valuable insight related to values of integrity and scientific thought in the 17th century as well as in the current society.

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  1. Deer, B. How the case against the MMR vaccine was fixed. British Medical Journal, 342, 77–82. 2011.
  2. Ioannidis, J. Why most published research findings are false. PloS Medicine, 2.8. 2005.
  3. Ramsey, P. Fabricated man: The ethics of genetic control. Yale Fastbacks, Yale University Press.1970.
  4. Shelley, M.W. & Nobes, P. Frankenstein, Oxford: Oxford University Press.2008.
  5. Stevenson, R.L. & Stevenson, R.L. The strange case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde; the Merry Men and other stories, Ware: Wordsworth Classics.1999.
  6. Teller, E. Science, and morality. Essays on Science and Society, Science Magazine, Vol. 280(5367), 1200-1201. Web. http://www.sciencemag.org/content/280/5367/1200.full.1998.
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