What does it mean to create a monster, or to cross the line between nature and experimentation? A new exhibit at the US National Library of Medicine takes a look at Frankenstein, through the lens of bioethics.
In 1818, Shelley’s story was published as Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus. This story — both in the original novel and shaped into new forms, such as plays, films, and comics — has captivated people ever since, exposing hidden, sometimes barely conscious fears of science and technology. As scientists have gained new powers, the Frankenstein story remains, like a warning beacon, throwing its harsh, unsettling beam upon human efforts to penetrate the secrets of nature.
Above, an artist from 1802 paints a scene of feared consequences of Jenner’s new smallpox vaccine.
Image via NLM, painting by James Gillray