Frankenstein’s obduction

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Johnson, Alexandra
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Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein is a prelude to the Anatomy Act of 1832, which indulged the anatomists’ scientific ambition, granting a legitimate and sufficient source of cadavers to dissect legally. When read in concert with the history of anatomy and the historical record of body snatching, including case law and anatomy legislation, Frankenstein exemplifies the issues in medico-legal history at the turn of the nineteenth century, for Victor Frankenstein and the Creature’s stories are set amid the context of anatomical study, grave-robbery, crime, punishment and the illicit relationship between medicine and murder. This thesis accordingly addresses the medico-legal history of anatomy, the anatomist’s ambition and complex inhumanity, and the mingled identity of the anatomical subject as illegitimate and criminal. This analysis demonstrates that Frankenstein sheds light upon the anatomist’s ambition, the identity of the human cadaver, and the bioethical consequences of meddling with nature.
Frankenstein, The Creature, Law, Literature, Grave-robbery, History of Medicine, Medico-legal history, Anatomy, Cadavers, Inhumanity, Anatomy Act of 1832, Ambition, Crime