As stated in one of my previous posts, the themes and central ideas of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein are rampant in modern entertainment. For example, one of the central protagonists from the TV show Star Trek – The Next Generation is an android by the name of Data. However, the universe of Victor Frankenstein and his creature is very unlike that of Captain Picard and the rest of the crew of the starship USS Enterprise.
Although Data and Frankenstein’s creature are both artificial creatures that are similar in several ways, they are products of their own universes. Despite his grotesque and alien-like appearances, Data is a completely accepted individual of society in the 23rd century of the Star Trek realm, he’s even lieutenant commander of his own star ship. Another way in which the creature and Data are different is in terms of their original knowledge. While Data knows everything about everything, he is incapable of feeling basic human emotions like anger and happiness. On the other hand, Frankenstein’s monster is a being of such raw emotion yet he knows nothing about the things he feels. He knows nothing of the world he was born into and seeks to understand the workings of society, as seen by his investigation of the cottage family.
Another concept Star Trek: The Next Generation has in common with Marie Shelley’s Frankenstein is the death of a creator. In one episode, Data’s creator, a scientist by the name of Noonian Soong, is killed by one of his creation. However, here is a M. Night Shyamalan plot twist for you, it wasn’t Data, as you would guessed. It was actually his twin (brother?) Lore, who kills Professor Soong after snagging an emotion chip from the scientists laboratory.Similar to Shelley’s Frankenstein, the creation kills the creator out of pure anger, this is because Soong preferred Data over Lore, and kept their existences from one another. Fun fact about Data and Lore, they are products of one larger creation. They represent two sides of the same coin, a benevolent side and an evil side, almost like the classic story of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.
One interesting thing about the star trek universe is that it provides a lot of insight into what the universe of Shelley’s Frankenstein could be. The 23rd century is a utopia in which every being, no matter how hideous or creepy they are, are accepted as a part of society. Heck, even the Klingons are allies of the Federation, and they’re disgusting cavemen aliens. In my own belief, I think it is because in the future, scientific progress is viewed differently. In Star Trek, the pursuit of knowledge is an honorable path as long as it is done responsibly, but if not done for the good of everyone, as seen by Lore, it can lead to great consequences. However, this isn’t as true in Frankenstein, where the average man is terrified of progress and prefers a stable lifestyle. In conclusion, the comparison of Frankenstein and Star Trek: The Next Generation is interesting study that yields both noticeable similarities as well as lessons for the future.