As test tube babies and embryonic manipulation take both the science lab and the realm of nature by storm in a technological world, the limits to which science can be pursued grow to heights unparalleled day by day. A world where creation of life exists within the genius of a single mind is not an uninvestigated idea by any means. The novels Frankenstein by Mary Shelley, and Heart of a Dog by Mikhail Bulgakov are science fiction classics that take the concept of the artificial creation of life to its full potential. In Frankenstein, Victor Frankenstein, an ambitious scientist who dares venture into the darkest of arts, creates a monster from the remains of the deceased. His efforts are rewarded with the destruction of all he loves in the world by the hands of his own creation.
In Heart of a Dog, a Russian professor named Philip Philipovich transplants the testes and hypothalamus of a starving dog from the streets, Sharik, with those of a deceased man who lived an uncouth life. As the dog soon takes on the form of a man in the likeness of whom the deceased once was, the professor discovers the folly of corrupting the pure heart of a dog with the vagaries of human nature. Both these novels attest to a simple and clear cut belief: human dabbling in the creation of entirely new forms of life and manipulation of nature through unnatural and scientific methods are a result of human arrogance and misguided curiosity that can only result in disastrous consequences.
[...] However, the most powerful examples of these traits exist not in their actions or words, but in the lamentable plights of their creations. Their very creation was nonconsensual and doomed them from the start, and they let their creators know. The human Sharik, Polygraph Polygraphovich, asks the all important question “Maybe I never gave you no permission to operate?” to the now wearied professor (Bulgakov 70). Though the professor responds he saved the dog from a hard life on the streets, Polygraph poses an even more cogent question in response: if I'd died under you knife?” (70). [...]
[...] As the dog soon takes on the form of a man in the likeness of whom the deceased once was, the professor discovers the folly of corrupting the pure heart of a dog with the vagaries of human nature. Both these novels attest to a simple and clear cut belief: human dabbling in the creation of entirely new forms of life and manipulation of nature through unnatural and scientific methods are a result of human arrogance and misguided curiosity that can only result in disastrous consequences. The actual motivations behind the protagonists of both stories are particularly instrumental in conveying the core messages of the novels. Science in itself does not discover anything. [...]
[...] However, the most notable and relevant likeness between the two must be their God complex. In Frankenstein it is his desire to create life, and in Heart of a Dog, it is Bulgakov's direct description. While the professor sits in his office, he is described as a “godhead” that uses a “small gleaming knife to cut into firm yellow brains” (44). One immediately realizes that the professor operates beyond the bounds that science should allow. The brains in a jar offer a most telling image. [...]
[...] The novels Frankenstein and Heart of a Dog tell tales of how great these unintentional consequences can be when matters as large as life creation are concerned, and the hubris of those who pursue such ventures. Science fiction raises questions as to what the limits are to human progress, and these novels clearly agree with the notion that the limits are surely exceeded when new forms of life are sought to be created. Works Cited Bulgakov, Mikhail. Heart of a Dog. [...]
[...] Frankenstein suffers a far worse fate at the hands of his own creation. The monster laments the cruelty of the corruption of his being: "My heart was fashioned to be susceptible of love and sympathy, and when wrenched by misery to vice and hatred, it did not endure the violence of the change without torture such as you cannot even imagine"(Shelly Ch. 24). When Dr. Frankenstein betrays the monster by not creating another to be his wife, a terrible fate is sealed. [...]
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