March 7, 2023

While Frankenstien may be a horrifying story today, back when it was published in 1818 it was all the more scary because it was seemingly based in “truth” and what could happen in the near future.


This idea seems absolutely insane to modern day people, but in the era of Frankenstien, experiments with the dead and the question of whether you could bring them back to life was quite common.


These experiments were products of galvanism. It’s the idea that electricity is what makes up life, and by shocking dead bodies you could bring them back. Afterall, this idea may not be too insane considering we have defibrillators in modern day.


Defibrillators help restore a normal heartbeat, and they do so through electricity. However, believers of galavism didn’t just believe it could restart your heart beat, but also totally reanimate your body days after death.


The idea started when Luigi Galvani used electricity to make frog legs move. The experiments had started on animals. This idea moved further, and Galvani’s son had taken his father’s research further to try to animate a dead human body.


They used the body of a George Foster, a criminal who was hung. When electrocuted, his body moved and make distorted faces. 


Being shocked would cause dead bodies to move, and they could even cause bodies to sit up; however, this was not because electricity was restoring life to the body, but rather because nerves and musicals retain their hold on life for sometime after the body has died. 


It takes the body some time to totally shut down.


Thus, came about Frankenstein’s monster, born from true stories of scientists trying to play God. 


In this time period it was hard for scientists and medical students to get their hands on a body, so they had to get them from graveyards, hence why Frankenstien had to gather parts for his monster, causing it to be sewn together of different bodies.


In this time of grave robbings and galvanism the story would have been much more scary because people believed it could become reality.

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About the Contributor
Taylor Hill is senior at Lincoln Park and is a writing and publishing major. She’s the editor in chief for The SIREN newspaper and is also writing the horror column for The SIREN this year.

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