The Modern Prometheus
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1. Summarize the excerpt from Shelley's Frankenstein, or The Modern Prometheus. What is happening in this section of this so famous story? What themes emerge regarding science? What conflict does Victor Frankenstein face? What is the significance of the title of the short story? Who is Prometheus?
In Chapter 3, Victor Frankenstein is still at home in Geneva. He is 17, and his parents want him to go to study to the University of Ingolshtadt. Suddenly, Victor’s mother, Carolin,e dies. Frankenstein goes to Ingolshtadt. He meets Mr. Crempe, the professor of natural sciences. Few days later, he goes to listen to the lecture of professor Valdman who teaches chemistry. Professor’s speech inspires Victor, touches him deeply. Frankenstein decides to study natural sciences again. He meets professor Valdman, and Valdman is happy to have a new student.
In the novel, the author accesses some themes which regard the science. The themes involve the questions whether it is possible to revive the inanimate matter and what are the reasons of death.
The main conflict that Victor Frankenstein faces is his responsibility for creating an ugly creature fated to suffer. His creature kills his younger brother, and a friend of Frankenstein’s family Justina is sentenced to death as a killer. Victor feels guilty for a murder and Justina’s death.
From my point of view, the title of the story means that Victor Frankenstein is the modern Prometheus, who inspired life into inanimate matter. Prometheus is the name of the titanium from the Greek mythology that sculpted humans from clay.
2. Have you read any part of Shelley’s Frankenstein before this class? If so, what did you think of the text? Have you seen any adaptations of the Frankenstein creature or story in film or on TV? What did you think of them? How do the films and television shows depict the story? Why is it that most people think of Frankenstein as the monster and not the scientist?
I have not read any parts of Shelley’s Frankenstein before. I have seen a horror cartoon about Frankenstein’s creature who was depicted as a zombie with the fastened head. It was not very serious cartoon, it was sarcastic. I have not seen any adaptations. There are several of them. Many people think that Frankenstein is the monster. I think that such a point of view appeared for the first time when people came across the posters of a film named “Frankenstein”, saw the face of a monster on a poster, and then started thinking that Frankenstein is a monster, not his creator.
3. What are the laws of robotics in Asimov's “Liar”? Why does Asimov create them? Do you think these laws ultimately protect the humans and robots? How does Dr. Susan Calvin use them against Herbie to the horror of Bogert and Lanning? Discuss the significance of the title of the short story? Who is the liar? Why does he lie? Who utters the word liar in the short story? Why? Ultimately, is artificial life beneficial or dangerous in this story?
There is one law in Asimov’s “Liar”, the First Law of Robotics: “A robot may not injure the human being or, through inaction, allow him to come to harm”. Asimov creates Laws of Robotics to help his personages to regulate the relations between robots and human beings. I think this laws are wise, but do not protect robots. On the other side, if we consider that the robots are machines, then does a machine need a protection? Dr. Susan angry with Herbie’s lie destroys him, making him face a problem which robot cannot solve: if he tells the truth to Bogert and Lanning, he will hurt them, and he must not hurt. But if he does not tell the truth to Bogert and Lanning, he will also hurt them, so he has to tell. Robot damages his mind.
In the story “Liar!”, liar is a robot RB-34, Herbie. He started to lie as soon as he started to read thoughts. The reason he lies is the First Law of Robotics: a robot cannot injure a human being. Herbie knows that the truth will make a mental hurt to the human beings he contacts with, so he has to lie. He is a robot, so he cannot realize that his lie will hurt human beings. In the end of the story, Dr. Susan Calvin says: “Liar!” because she is hurted very much with the robot’s lie. Ultimately, artificial life is found out to be dangerous in this story. Artificial life might be exemplary for the personages.
4. Discuss "Liar" in the light of gender. How does Asimov depict gender in this story? Is it sexist? Support your responses.
For Azimov, there is no any gender problem. He really understands what it means to be a woman. Dr. Susan Calvin acts cruel: her heart is broken and she revenges. She is too angry with Herbie to listen to her mind. The final phrase confirms it.
Azimov is not a sexist. Firstly, he depicts Dr. Susan Calvin equal with her colleagues. Secondly, her personage causes sympathy, except for the moment where she is destroying Herbie.
5. In PKD's “Second Variety”, discuss the irony of the title of the short story. What does variety refer to? How did the varieties come into existence? Who is the second variety? What is so ironic about the last thoughts of the protagonist in the narrative?
Varieties refer to the human sympathy. They were invented by the “claws”. “Claws” were robots invented by the American scientists to destroy their Asian enemies. They were produced in the underground plans firstly by humans and later by themselves. “Claws” invented the “varieties” and became enemies to all human beings: Americans and Asians. Second variety has the appearance of a woman. Also, the second variety is invented to destroy human beings. The last thoughts of protagonist are about grenade fastened to the clothes of second variety. It is invented by the “claws” and projected in the way to destroy as much “claws” and varieties as possible. Protagonist has an ironic thought, that “claws” and varieties will destroy each other as humans did.
6. Ultimately, what does “Second Variety” suggest about humanity and technology? Is it dangerous or beneficial? Support your answer.
In the story “Second Variety”, technologies turned against the humanity. Technique invented as a weapon to win the war started to destroy all the humans. There is no Europe and North America in the story, they are destroyed by the war. There is only desert with the burnt skeletons of trees in those places.
7. Discuss the many levels of irony in PKD's "We Can Remember It for You Wholesale." What is so ironic about Dan Quail wanting implanted memories of a trip he would love to take to Mars? What of the irony of the spy package he buys at the corporation? Why is it ironic that the agents can't kill him?
It is ironic that Dan Quail really had a trip to Mars and was a real Interplan agent, written off after “good” job. The main irony in the “spy package” is about the “one-poscred sneaky-pete side arm”. It is ironic, that agents cannot kill Quail, because he has a mania that he is the one who had saved the Earth: little aliens promised not to damage our planet until Quail lives here. With the help of Interplan and McClane, this mania came true for Quail.
8. Do you think the idea of implanted memories could be beneficial in today's society? Support. Why might implanted memories be dangerous in today's society?
I cannot imagine the idea of implanted memories to be beneficial in our real society. Imagine that you have a memory that you have been in England for two weeks, for example. You meet the colleagues and tell them: “I have been in England, I am happy to return home”. They say: “Hey, fellow, wake up, you didn’t have vacations since last year”. Then you come home and tell the same to your wife. And she answers: “We were at the cinema yesterday, together with you”. You start thinking that all of them are liars and become a schizophrenic.
I think implanted memories can be the first step to the mass schizophrenia.