10.04.

1762: The Man who Could Have Been a Model for Frankenstein

1762: The Man who Could Have Been a Model for Frankenstein
Photo Credit To Wikipedia Commons (Author: Wellcome Library, London; Copyrighted work available under Creative Commons Attribution only licence CC BY 4.0)/ Giovanni Aldini, galvanism experiments

Story Highlights

  • Historical event:
  • 10 April 1762
  • Modern historians believe that the scientist Giovanni Aldini was a model for creation of the famous character Victor Frankenstein. As it is widely known, the novel Frankenstein is about a scientist who, during his experiments, managed to create a monstrous living being.

The Italian scientist Giovanni Aldini was born on this day. Some modern historians believe that he was the model on which the famous character of Frankenstein was based.

Namely, the novel Frankenstein was written by British author Mary Shelley (her husband was the famous poet Percy Bysshe Shelley) around 1817. Of course, this novel is about the scientist named Victor Frankenstein, who during his experiments, managed to create a monstrous living being.

It should be noted that the name of Frankenstein is often mistakenly used to refer to the monster instead of the scientist. In the novel, the monstrous creature actually has no name and it would be correct to call it Frankenstein’s monster, not Frankenstein.

The scientist Giovanni Aldini would fit the same archetype of scientist as Victor Frankenstein. In fact, they belong to the same time period – the generation between Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and Napoleon Bonaparte.

Furthermore, Aldini and Frankenstein were engaged in similar field of natural sciences. The writer Mary Shelley certainly knew of Aldini’s experiments, in which he used electricity to cause the twitching of limbs of dead animals and even human corpses.

Indeed, it is known that Giovanni Aldini made a public experiment in London in 1803 on the dead body of George Forster, a criminal who was recently executed on the gallows. The dead man’s body began to twitch under electro-stimulation, and he even opened an eye. Because the dead man’s hands and legs moved, some in the audience thought that George Forster was coming back to life.

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