Lieutenant James Cook’s Character, His Construction and Development
In Chapter Four of Bill Bryson’s Book “Down Under” He starts talking about Captain Cook. In 1770 Lieutenant James Cook and his crew aboard the HMS Endeavour discovered the South-east corner of Australia and sailed 1,800 miles to Cape York, this however was not what Cook had set out to achieve but it was to play a big part in the history of Australia. Cook set off again this time to explore the lands of the South seas, and bring home anything that looked scientifically interesting. I this three year voyage, he gathered up 30,000 specimens which included 1,400 Plants never seen before. So on 19th April 1770 when HMS Endeavour returned to the South-east tip of Australia, Cook and his crew where already on a role. Cook named this spot Point Hicks and turned to the North. For Four months Cook headed up the coast. They stopped ashore at Possession Island, Planted a flag and claimed the East coast for Great Britain. Cook returned twice to the pacific on greater voyages. Cook was Murdered in 1779 and was said to be eaten by natives on a beach in Hawaii.
Thank’s to Cook’s discoveries Australia became known. This was a unbelievable achievement and is very well known today. From reading this part of Bill Bryson’s book “Down Under” I have discovered a little bit more about the way Australia was discovered, I knew a Little bit about Cook’s voyages already but in reading this I have also discovered that Cook was supposedly eaten by the natives of Hawaii in 1779.
Captain Cook’s voyages on the ship Endeavour have a lot of relevance to Australia today. It was these voyages which later lead to the colonisation of Australia as it is today. When Captain Cook’s log books of his journeys to Australia returned to England and were read, they told of wonderful green lands and open and safe bays which would be perfect to start a new colony. From this promise of being able to live quite easily the first fleet were sent to Australia and Australia became colinised. Had it not been for Cook’s voyages, perhaps Australia would not have been founded by the English and the Australia of today would be far different than what it is.
In Bill Bryson’s book “Down Under”, Bill Bryson starts to explain the story of the Batavia. The Batavia was a Dutch ship traveling on its way to the East Indies. The captain and crew of the Batavia where trying to find the quickest way to sail to the planned destination. The captain and his crew planned to sail though the “Roaring Forties.” This proved to be a deadly mistake and just before dawn on June 1629, the Batavia crashed into the the Abrolhos Islands. About 160 crew members where killed by drowning and the other 200 crew members that did survive where in bad shape. Captain Pelsaert, set out back to the ship for supplies, with which he left in charge Jeronimus Cornelisz which proved a BIG mistake, he and his followers murdered most of the survivors and those not killed where forced into slavery, the women where used as sex objects. Some of these women escaped to a nearby sand bar, built a fort and weapons. Once Pelsaert reached the Batavia he was given another boat and went to retrieve the remaining survives.
From reading Bill Bryson’s book “Down Under” I have learnt a bit more about Australia’s history and discovered this story about the Batavia, Because up until reading this book I didn’t know the Batavia even existed. Although nothing really came of this story I have learnt about the bravery that Pelsaert showed and the courage of those who were left behind with a Mad man.
The story of the Batavia I don’t think really relate’s to Australia today although It happened here. It is however an event that as fascinated many people today and has encouraged them to research what happened and find out more.
Bill Bryson’s book “Down Under” has helped me to gain a greater appreciation, knowledge and understanding of Australian history by making me want to learn about Australia. Bill Bryson wrote his book in such a way that It keeps the reader interested and makes even the most boring topic interesting and also adds the aspect of humor to help him achieve this. I found it fascinating that someone from another country could be so Interested in Our history, That made me think that if someone else from another country was so intrigued by Australia that maybe I should be just as interested as him, also the way he wrote the book kept me interested and made me want to learn more about the events that he wrote about also making me research these such events further. I think that for anyone who truly wants to learn about Australia This book is a very good way to start.
Notes From a Big Country by Bill Bryson and the Portrayal of the UK Compared to the USA
BOOK REVIEW: BILL BRYSON; NOTES FROM A BIG COUNTRY
If you ever wanted to know how would an American, who has spent last twenty years of his life on another continent, behave when he comes home after all that time, then “Notes from a big country” is a great book for you. Bill Bryson explains his advantages and disadvantages of being away for so long and puts the differences of United Kingdom and United States into perspective in a number of columns he wrote. These columns were written from September of 1996., every week for two full years. It is a collection of short essays on garbage disposals, language peculiarities due to vast cultural and geographical differences, as well as quintessential discrepancies between the life of an American and an Englishman through everyday trivial events such as going to the post office.
Satirical and humoristic vibe is easily noticeable as it is a big and consistent part of almost every column in this collection. It is a mix of British and American comedy depicting the two countries through criticism and appraisal of both American and British values from an approach of insider as well as a stranger. His divided identity of a born American that spent his key years of life in England has left him stranded and almost lost so that he was forced to find his way out through humour and satire.
The reader will find himself dumbfounded as they read about everyday, mundane things in a manner that is peculiar only for a satirical mind of a writer such is Bill Bryson. The value of the book lies in the fact that it portrays one powerful message and that is that differences are not negative, they can help you experience life through more complex lens and notice relations that one would not notice by living in only one country and behaving in accordance with one cultural paradigm.
All in all, this book might not seem like it holds any valuable lessons, but if we look deeper into the meaning of every word that Bryson intentionally used, we will see that this book is much more than a collection of newspaper columns.
Childhood in the Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid
Bill Bryson lived in Des Moines, Iowa, during his youth in the 1950’s and early 1960’s. He was living in a country coming fresh off of the second world war, and, as a nation, the United States was experiencing economic prosperity. During this era, people appeared to be oblivious to the dangers that surrounded them, as they enjoyed things such as atom bombs with an invulnerable attitude. Bryson was also born among the largest generation the nation has ever experienced: the baby boomers. During this era, many families began to consider themselves a part of the “middle class,” as many adults found themselves buying more luxury items than they could once afford. This included Bryson’s family, who took part in buying items such as televisions and toasters. Manufactures also marketed to the newest, largest generation: the millions of baby boomer children, who could be easily persuaded into purchasing a multitude of consumer crazes. This group included Bill, who was obsessed with comic books and superheroes. This played a crucial role in Bill transforming into the “Thunderbolt Kid,” a superhero he made up during times which he felt powerless. Bill Bryson describes his hometown, Des Moines, during his childhood, as fairly rural and lackluster. Overall, Bryson’s tone throughout the novel conveyed that his childhood was destined to be filled with boredom; however, he managed to occupy it with excitement as a young boy who was filled with imagination.
Bryson divides his 268 page novel into chapters, each one representing a significant aspect of his childhood. Each chapter is essentially based on related recollected memories from Bryson’s youth alongside (somewhat) correlating tangents to represent the sporadic mind of a child. The novel does not follow or indicate a timeline, as Bryson’s recalled memories come from distinct ages, time periods, and phases of his formative years. In his novel, Bryson emphasizes what he likes and dislikes, and analyzes the positives and negatives of things that were significant to him during his youth. For instance, in chapter eight, “School Days,” Bryson discusses and explains what his early schooling was like. Bryson mentions his hatred for the school environment, and stated that he often would not attend school. However, in the same chapter, Bryson praises his school for its magnificent appearance, stating, “It was, I believe, the handsomest elementary school I have ever seen” (137). Bryson also commonly applies these same analytical tactics to his mother, criticizing her for things such as her cooking, sarcastically referring to the kitchen as the “Burns Unit.” However, Bryson also praises his mother just as often as he finds fault with her, honoring her for being “soft and kind, patient and generous, instantly and sincerely apologetic for every wrong, keen to make amends” (53).
The novel covers Bryson’s experiences and memories from when he was only the age of five or six, up until his early teen years. Bryson develops his memories by adding a modern day point of view and incorporating social commentary on some of the issues which he recalls. For instance, on page 21, Bryson reflects on the stores and businesses that made up his community. He proceeds to elaborate on this by adding, “That was the glory of living in a world that was still largely free of global chains. Every community was special and nowhere was like everywhere else” (21). Bryson develops and stance on a political issue of modern times, where large corporations are overrunning small towns consisting of “mom and pop” shops. Bryson could not have come to this realization during his childhood, thus, Bryson adds modern day commentary to his memories in effort of adding depth to their meaning.
The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid is told in the first person for the entirety of the novel. There are no changes in the point of view as the book is Bill Bryson’s memoir. Bryson mentions historical information and facts, and writes about stories that did not occur to him, yet all of these things are written in his words, his opinions, his bias, and his point of view. Bryson maintains a first person point of view to represent a novel that is based on his experiences and his recollections. Bryson will use phrases such as “I liked,” or “I loved,” thus emphasizing his owning of the novel as a memoir of childhood. However, Bryson also contributes his modern knowledge and wisdom to the novel, in effort to compare the mid 20th century to modern times.
Diction in The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid is generally informal. The circumstances in which Bryson undergoes throughout the novel lack in formality, thus eliciting the use of informal language. This use of common language is exemplified on page 108, when Bryson states, “I didn’t care how babies were made, to tell you the truth. I was far more excited that we were on a secret adventure that our parents didn’t know about and that we were walking through the Woods.” Bryson uses contractions such as “didn’t” in his writing, which are considered to be indicative of informal writing. Bryson also writes using relative clauses while discussing informal matters, such as the example.
Despite Bryson using informal language, he commonly utilizes intricate words, valid similes, and ironic devices to push for a greater imagery. For instance, on page 176, Bryson writes, “…but each was so potently flavorful that it made your eyes water like an untended sprinkler, and so sharply carbonated that it was like swallowing a thousand tiny razor blades. It was wonderful.” In this passage, Bryson takes advantage of similes to add to the imagery, using vivid language to compare two unlike things. Bryson also connects satirical irony to the scene by stating that the carbonated drink, which made one’s eyes water, and felt like razor blades, was “wonderful.” Throughout his novel, Bryson frequently uses hyperboles and exaggerated diction to create a better understanding for how he embellished the things he observed as a child. Bryson uses words such as “exquisite” to define a toy, or “impeccable” to describe a toilet. Bryson also makes hyperbolic claims such as, “We used to get up to eleven feet of snow at one time… and weeks of arctic weather so bitter you would pee icicles” (158), to emphasize the inflated views that he had on things during his youth.
Passage 1: But its sanctum sanctorum was the Tea Room, a place where doting mothers took their daughters for a touch of elegance while shopping. Nothing about the Tea Room remotely interested me until I learned of a ritual that my sister mentioned in passing. It appeared that young visitors were invited to reach in a wooden box containing small gifts, each beautifully wrapped in white tissue and tied with ribbon, and select one to take away as a permanent memento of the occasion. Once my sister passed on to me a present she had acquired and didn’t much care for — a die-cast coach and horses. It was only two and a half inches long, but exquisite in its detailing. The doors opened. The wheels turned. A tiny driver had thin metal reins. The whole thing had obviously been hand-painted by some devoted, underpaid person from the defeated side of the Pacific Ocean. I had never seen, much less owned, such a fine thing before (24).
Passage 2: Once on the open road, Mrs. Vandermesiter was famous over a much wider area. Though her trip to Dahl’s was only about three-quarters of a mile, her progress created scenes reminiscent of the streets of Pamplona when the bulls are running. Motorists and pedestrians alike fled in terror before her. And it was, it must be said, an unnerving sight when Mrs. Vandermeister’s car came toward you down the street. For a start, it looked as if it was driverless, such was her exceeding diminutiveness, and indeed it drove as if driverless, for it was seldom entirely on the road, particularly when bumping around corners. Generally there were sparks coming off the undercarriage from some substantial object—a motorcycle, a garbage can, her own walking frame — that she had collected en route and was now taking with her wherever she went (158-159).
Passage 3: Riverview was an unnerving institution. The roller coaster, a Himalayan massif of aging wood, was the most rickety, confidence-sapping construction ever. The wagons were flocked inside and out with thirty-five years of spilled popcorn and hysterical vomit. It had been built in 1920, and you could feel its age in every groaning joint and cracked cross brace. It was enormous – about four miles long, I believe, and some twelve thousand feet high. It was easily the scariest ride ever built. People didn’t even scream on it; they were much too petrified to emit any kind of noise. As it passed, the ground would tremble with increasing intensity and it would shake loose a shower – actually a kind of avalanche – of dust and ancient bird shit from its filthy rafters. A moment later, there would be a passing rain shower of vomit (207).
Syntax in The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid consists of colloquial language in both simple and complex sentences, as well as everything in between. The purpose of this is to represent the novel as Bryson’s thoughts, opinions, and recollections. Generally, Bryson’s longer and more complex sentences portray more elaborate ideas or are used to describe things, whereas his short and simple sentences are generally used to make sarcastic comments or concise statements. An example of one of Bryson’s longer sentences is on page 138 when he writes:So however bad your school productions were — and ours were always extremely bad, partly because we had no talent and partly because Mrs. De Voto, the music teacher, was a bit ancient and often nodded off at the piano — it felt like you were part of a well-ordered professional undertaking (even when you were standing there holding a long note waiting for Mrs. De Voto’s chin to touch the keyboard, an event that always jerked her back into action with rousing gusto at exactly the spot where she had left off a minute or two before). This extensive sentence illustrates how the novel represents Bryson’s thoughts, as he continuously cuts into his stream of consciousness, leading him to go on tangents. An example of one of Bryson’s shorter sentences occurs while he discusses the invulnerabile view that people had of themselves during the 1950s. Bryson sarcastically writes, “What a joy it was to be indestructible” (73).
Throughout the novel, Bryson uses rhetorical questions to enhance the reader’s acceptance of a first person view, as his rhetorical questions contribute to a cutting stream of consciousness. Despite these scattered sentences, Bryson also attempts to add rhythm and flow to his sentences by using rhetorical devices such as parallel structure. For instance, when Bryson describes the accomplishments of a Guatemalan leader, he writes: “He established free elections, ended racial discrimination, encouraged a free press, introduced a forty-hour work week, legalized unions, and ended government corruption” (133). To pair with varying sentence lengths, Bryson also uses both periodic and loose sentence structure. But its sanctum sanctorum was the Tea Room, a place where doting mothers took their daughters for a touch of elegance while shopping. Nothing about the Tea Room remotely interested me until I learned of a ritual that my sister mentioned in passing. It appeared that young visitors were invited to reach in a wooden box containing small gifts, each beautifully wrapped in white tissue and tied with ribbon, and select one to take away as a permanent memento of the occasion. Once my sister passed on to me a present she had acquired and didn’t much care for — a die-cast coach and horses. It was only two and a half inches long, but exquisite in its detailing. The doors opened. The wheels turned. A tiny driver had thin metal reins. The whole thing had obviously been hand-painted by some devoted, underpaid person from the defeated side of the Pacific Ocean. I have never seen, much less owned, such a fine thing before (24).
Throughout Bryson’s memoir, he frequently utilizes tropes to forge vivid scenes, create satire, and remind the reader of the novel’s point of view. Some of the literary devices which he uses include: similes, imagery, and hyperboles. On page 182, Bryson describes his encounter with a tornado and uses similes and imagery to describe its conditions. Bryson writes:The sky everywhere was wildly, unnaturally dark and heavy and low, and every wisp of cloud in it, from every point in the compass, was being sucked into the central vortex as if being pulled into a black hole. It was like being present at the end of the world. The wind, steady and intense, felt oddly as if it was not pushing from behind, but pulling from the front, like the insistent draw of a magnet. Bryson uses numerous similes in this passage to compare the tornado to other phenomenons, such as black holes and the end of the world, effectively emphasizing the significance and astonishment of the event. In this passage, Bryson also successfully incorporates imagery into his vivid description of the tornado. Using words and phrases such as “unnaturally dark,” “wisp,” “sucked,” and “pulled,” Bryson creates visual images for the reader to imagine, which appeal to his or her sense of vision. Bryson’s writing style is fairly scattered, and he often nonchalantly adds hyperbolic comments throughout his sentences. On page 37, Bryson recalls a moment from his youth when he played an ice hockey game that involved “four thousand kids.” This number is magnified in effort of conveying Bryson’s age, as children commonly exaggerate and irrationally inflate things. He scatters these literary devices throughout his novel, and they are a key aspect of his writing style. Bryson effectively intertwines these tropes into his stories to ameliorate the novel’s enjoyability.
The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid has a great abundance of ironic devices, as Bryson casually employs verbal irony and ironic hyperboles in his style of writing. For instance, in the 1950s, teenagers were greatly looked down upon. Bryson sarcastically adds, in a deprecating manner, that, “When you look at them now, there’s no question that they should have been put down” (128). He makes an exaggerated statement in effort to coincide with the unrealistic views on teenagers. Another instance of irony occurs as he mentions the popularity of the Red Scare during the 1950s. He explains that a great deal of people were accused of Communist relations during this era, and Bryson, of course, makes a comment on the absurdity of the situation. He tells the story of his nonparticipation in civil defense drills at school during the scare of nuclear attacks. Eventually, Bryson was caught evading the drills and sarcastically states that, “Clearly [he] came from a Bolshevik household” (151). Here, Bryson uses the word “clearly” to assert his sarcastic tone, as he exaggerates the severity of the situation. This abundance of sarcasm is a chief aspect of his writing style, adding character to the novel and connecting personally to his stories.
The high frequency use of satire and irony transforms Bryson’s bland stories into entertaining and enjoyable tales. For the duration of his novel, Bryson conveys a satiric and ironic tone through the use of his diction and other literary devices. However, Bryson also remains informative as he discusses the history of the 1950s and what his life was like during that era. He often ties his satiric tone to the informative aspect of his writing, effectively displaying his opinion on certain subjects. For instance, on page 174, Bryson mentions his grandparents’ barn. He continues to state that, “The barn was like a whole-body workout for your immune system” (174). This satirical comment uses a simile to demonstrate Bryson’s opinion of disgust toward the barn by comparing it to a “whole-body workout for your immune system.” Bryson often speaks lowly of his home state, Iowa; however, on pages 172 and 173, he attempts to highlight its positive characteristics, ending his short summary of Iowa’s accomplishments with a sarcastic “Hooray.” Bryson commonly adds comments like these to anecdotes, creating a satiric and ironic tone for the novel. Another instance of Bryson’s tone derives from his anecdote on the Butters boys. Bryson writes:In between times they would menace us. Their specialty was to torment any children smaller than them, which was all children. The Butters were big to begin with but because they were held back year after year, they were much, much larger than any child in their class. By sixth grade some of them were too big to pass through doors. They were ugly, too, and real dumb. They ate squirrels. (Bryson 43)This passage illustrates Bryon’s ability to express his opinion through a satiric tone while still remaining informative. Bryson incorporates short and exaggerative sentences at the end of the passage, creating a platform for Bryson to emphasize his disliking toward the Butters boys.
The central theme of The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid is childhood. Bryson’s novel is primarily based on events during his youth and the emotions and feelings that coincide with them. In many ways, Bryson represented the all-American childhood of the baby boomers.
Notes from a Small Island: Variations Between Us and British Cultures
Many Americans assume that because most of us have ancestors that hailed from England, Britain has the culture most similar to our own. Those people have jumped to that conclusion too quickly, using that prior knowledge as a confirmation bias. In reality, there are multiple differences between our culture and British culture that many Americans don’t take the time to notice. There are more differences that are unique to the culture than the stereotypical tea and crumpets, fries versus fish and driving on the other side of the road. Bill Bryson, a British Citizen and American born writer, conveys these differences using a comedic tone in his book Notes From a Small Island. In his book, he points out many things such as climate, city organization, transportation and even dependency as some of the biggest things that differ between the two societies.
Britain is a relatively small island that is completely surrounded by water so it would be fair to assume that there is a lot of rain. While this is accurate, the weather is more unpredictable than we are used to here in the US. Living in Michigan, when we see a forecast like 70 degrees with a 45 percent change of rain, we usually know that it’s going to get warm, humid and then rain. However, in Britain Bryson describes a typically weather forecast as “Dry and warm, but cooler with some rain” (Bryson 268). This weather is so consistent, British citizens are completely used to it. Having this “summer-esque” weather year round is something that most Americans dream of, but it is a norm in Britain and one big difference between US and British societies.
The next and, in my opinion, biggest difference between the two societies is the city organization. Britain has been around significantly longer time than the US and they also care about their older buildings significantly more. Bryson demonstrates this by stating that there are “445,000 ancient or historic buildings” (Bryson 89) and “even local authorities are are desperately trying to promote their meager stock of old buildings as tourist attractions” (Bryson 186). To me, this is the biggest difference because it is my biggest problem with the US. Letting historical buildings degrade, become vandalized, and slowly crumble to the ground is extremely disheartening. By doing this we are letting a part of our history crumble with it.
Bryson also hints at the difference in transportation. Einstein stated that time is relative. It’s the same concept in Britain, except with transportation. The island is fairly small so for them, having to drive from one place to another seems like a hassle long. Bryson even states that Britain is “lucky to have a relatively good public transportation system” (Bryson 49) but people who use it are referred to as “brave” (Bryson 49). They complain about driving but do not use the public transportation? This is strange to me because I have made multiple drives across multiple states with a much longer distance that didn’t seem that bad. This supports the fact that everything is relative, and adds to the differences between the US and Britain.
Lastly, Bryson creates and image of independence when describing the British when compared to Americans. In my personal favorite quote of the book, Bryson jokes, “3.7 million Americans believed they had been abducted by aliens at one time or another, so it was clear that my people needed me” (Bryson 5). He also makes a point about the simplicity of Britain’s citizens and how easy to please they are. He does this by using and example we can all relate to, saying “they will nearly always hesitate and begin to worry that it’s unwarranted or excessive” (Bryson 84) when being offered a stick of gum. In contrast to the US, if you pull out literally anything to eat or drink in class you can count on statements such as ‘let me get some of that,’ ‘can I have a bite,’ or ‘did you bring enough for the whole class.’ British people would take a small portion and thank you for your generosity.
In Notes From a Small Island, Bill Bryson addresses several variations between US and British cultures. Although these differences may not seem big to us, they are obvious enough for a Brit to notice an American in their society. Bryson ultimately starts to looks at Americans as intellectually inferior to the British like those around him but decided that he wants to move back to the US. He does this so his kids can experience both society and that, by experiencing both, they will grow to appreciate British culture more.
Nearly Everything by Bill Bryson and Frankenstein by Mary Shelley: Short History Comparison
In discoveries lies the potential for transformation and change, as they provoke existential questions, challenging society’s prevalent paradigms. Bryson’s 2003 non-fiction account A Short History of Nearly Everything and Shelley’s 1818 Romantic Frankenstein explores how the catalysts of our paradoxically noble and felonious nature frame discovery’s value while further uncovering evolution’s need for receptivity and epistemic re-evaluation in recognising potentially detrimental consequences.
Adhering to a morally ambiguous portrait of humanity, to Bryson, discovery is the product of our paradoxical human heart, at once altruistic and selfish. Exposing the multitude of motives that spur scientific discoveries, Bryson’s historical vignettes underscore curiosity and lateral thinking, witnessed in the “[frustration]” with “conventional mathematics” which propelled Newton’s “invent[ion]” of “calculus”. “Twenty-seven years” passed before he “told [anyone] about it”, signifying his complete disregard for the resulting acknowledgement. Bryson juxtaposes this past mentality with modern society, where capitalism drives “drug companies” to “opt for” developing “antidepressants” over “antibiotics” in the name of long term profitability. Although modern science is inextricably intertwined with capitalist interests, Bryson finds a noble desire to “hunt supernovae” for “a sense of wonder” in Reverend Evans, whose ability to search manually is analogous to “find[ing]” a particular “grain of salt” amongst several grains on “fifteen hundred tables”. Aside from the Newton’s genius and Evans ’ aptitude, Bryson emphasises the importance of “tenaci[ty as Rutherford’s success was due to “work[ing]” “harder” “than most ” when “confronted with an intractable problem”. His mind figuratively “operat[ed] out towards the frontiers” exemplifying the significance of lateral thinking in deciphering discoveries and demonstrating the diligence behind humanity’s scientific innovations. In his anecdotal exploration of scientific history, Bryson illustrates the duality in discovery’s catalysts as humanity is comprised of both “divine and felonious” tendencies.
Critiquing the Enlightenment’s nature-dominating scientific movement, Shelley’s Frankenstein uncovers how initially honourable catalysts of discovery can become tainted by selfish ambition. An epistolary frame of Walton’s “voyage” parallels Frankenstein’s parable, foreshadowing Victor’s “destruction” due to overzealous ambition. Like Bryson’s depiction of Newton, it is Frankenstein’s frustration for the narrow-minded perceptions of modern science which drives him to “natural philosophy”, while Walton’s “elevat[ion]” by nature’s “beauty” mirrors Reverend Evans. Yet this “ardent curiosity” becomes corrupted by a “thirst for knowledge” and “glory”, as Frankenstein represents the Enlightenment’s movement of “galvanism”. As both parties’ appreciation for nature becomes tainted by a “desire” to “divine” its “hidden laws”, Shelley opposes Bryson’s encouragement of the “scientific pursuit” when spurred by selfish motives. Shelley suggests it is our felonious nature behind discovery’s insatiable quest, as Victor endures “painful labour” and inner turmoil only to recoil from his “filthy creation”. In “anatomiz[ing]” nature, Frankenstein represents the changed catalyst of greed which now drives his quest for “creation”. A more significant discovery is derived from Victor’s quest – the realisation of man’s limitations, and the “madness” which causes “destruction”, illustrating the sacrificial and laborious journey of self-realisation. Shelley’s portrayal of humanity’s duality allows an insight into the similarly dichotomous nature of discovery, as joy can be found within a pure motive, yet greed and ambition may drive the discovery into destruction.
In his exposition of the fallibility of humanity’s established truth, Bryson epitomizes humanity’s need to be amenable towards the unconventional justifications discovery provokes. A historical vignette of Wegener’s “widely criticised” “radical notions” of continental drift illustrates our tendency to dismiss novel theories which destabilise the “foundations” of a discipline. Four decades passed before half of the British Association of Science “embrace[d]” what is now considered factual, exemplifying the significance of “receptive[ness]” towards “unorthodox explanation[s]” for discoveries to progress into innovations. The irony of the “stages in scientific discovery”— “deny[ing] it’s true”, “deny[ing] it’s important, and “credit[ing] the wrong person”— elucidates Bryson’s epistemic relativist view of the value-biased nature of science. Consequently, Bryson urges his audience to realise the “paucity of” our “data”, analogically depicting our scientific beliefs as a “mountain of theory” built on a “molehill of evidence”. Bryson’s modernist view is that although some aspects of our universe are “beyond conception” as we are restricted to our stop on the metaphorical “knowledge highway”, we should continue discovering to alleviate the “incompleteness” of our “understanding.” Conversely, Bryson didactically incorporates a secular humanist warning of the “felonious nature” that has caused creatures “extinct[ion]”. Challenging societal conventions allows for the transformative nature of discoveries to progress, although humanity should take heed of the consequences.
Opposing the rise of the Enlightenment’s nature-dominating science, Shelley’s Frankenstein illustrates discovery’s dichotomous potential of noble and evil consequences. Contrasting Bryson’s encouragement of continuous innovation, Shelley exposes the danger of breaching limitations, leading to the destruction of humanity’s sanctity. Despite noble intentions, both Walton and Frankenstein’s quests become overshadowed by the greed of discovery’s metaphorical “torrent of light”, resulting in the loss of “all soul or sensation” and his disregard for moral consequences. In Frankenstein, Shelley embodies the Enlightenment scientists’ intrusion into “the citadel of Nature”, critical of galvanism’s violation of the divine. Despite “loathing from [his] occupation” of attempting to resurrect the human body, Frankenstein’s consumption by his obsessive curiosity results in his product of “filthy creation”. Shelley hence emphasises the consequences of infiltrating natural creation in illustrating humanity’s incapability to deal with the result of their discovery, as Frankenstein’s horrified rejection of his “monster” epitomises his disregard of the moral ramifications of bringing life. Metaphorically representing the creature as a “fallen angel” rather than Frankenstein’s “Adam”, Shelley’s biblical allusion highlights man’s inability to transcend to Godlike ranks— attempting to will only cause “destruction”. Thus, Shelley warns us of our tendency to become consumed within discovering and neglect consequential damage. Victor Frankenstein’s quest to create life exposes the moralistic danger of pursuing discovery beyond our limitations in our desire for knowledge, illustrating the provocative ability of discoveries to be detrimentally transformative.