Patricia Farad’s book “An Entertainment for Angels” is an insightful read about the discovery of electricity and how it helped mold people’s ideas during the enlightenment period. Farad’s point of view on the progress of science is very evident throughout the book. Her main argument Is that science wasn’t an easy mission. In fact, scientists usually struggled with the ‘hostility and ‘curiosity of the people at the time when presenting newly formed ideas (Far 10).In addition, Far goes against the simplified and rather smoothly written history concerning scientific discoveries explaining that usually only a few scientists were given the credit for what many other scientists also contributed to.
She also tackles the fact that many stories about science are myths without evidence (Far 11). Finally, Far insists that besides the fact that scientists wanted progression, they also wanted financial gain and status (Far 49).So all In all, the author wanted to show how complicated and lengthy the process of scientific progression was.
To prove these points, Far explains in great detail how electricity came about during the 18th century and how people of all surrounds, including the scientists, responded to it. As a reader, the theme became clear to me halfway through the book. Scientists knew that electricity made controlling nature possible and that it could open up new possibilities to the world they lived In.
As Priestley argued that ‘democratic teaching’ can elevate people from ignorance Into educated Individuals (Far 22). That led to the promotion of reason and experiment against religious ideologies. For example, when Franklin came up with the rods to protect people from lightening, people in Europe would not use it cause they felt that by using it they are going against the will of God (Far 78). Farad’s style of writing provides great clarity to the reader as they go on from one chapter to the other in the book.She explains that there is ‘no clear path of development’ when It comes to electricity (28).
She then divides the discovery of electricity and how It spread out through three steps: Inventions, Applications and Explainable theories. As a reader, that helped me place everything that has happened chronologically. There were many interesting aspects of this book because cost of it was brand new information to me.One of the things that rather surprised me was the fact that men of science had to work really hard to gain the respect and attention of the society around them. Another Interesting theme In the book Is the fact that electricity was a business venture to many at the time being rather than It being a life changing discovery. For example, in the book Far explains that many tradesmen became competitive in selling their electrical instruments and products (49). As for the scientists, the money they made off of electricity helped them in ending their research (50).
Finally, despite the fact that the enlightenment was supposed to be an era of open mindedness and changed ideals, hierarchy and inequality still existed In the beliefs of the people. An example of that would be not a man of the upper class (Far 61). As a reader, I was interested in seeing how housewives were reacting to the books that were now more available to them to read on electricity (Far 58). Just in general, the book was lacking information on how women in that era were reacting to electricity and what kind of influence or power they had during that time.