As a result of evolving international conflicts, the migrant crisis has been currently at the forefront of political discourse. Mary Shelley, in The Last Man, eerily predicted such a time in Western Europe. In The Last Man, readers are introduced to a migrant crisis caused by a plague. Although the plague manifests itself as a human disease, which decimates mankind, Shelley may also be implying that irresponsible stewardship on behalf of governments can become a plague which infects and erodes the political structure, which, in turn, creates instability within the nations. This instability becomes an impetus for many to leave their country of origin and relocate to another country. According to Mary Shelley, the burden rests on the government to protect those they govern. Failure to do so will cause chaos.
In The Last Man, upon the arrival of refugees in England, their presence causes a variety of issues. As the plague emerges we read, “Crowds of emigrants inundated the west of Europe; and our island had become the refuge of thousands…Many of the foreigners were utterly destitute; and their increasing numbers at length forbade a recourse to the usual modes of relief.” The desperateness of these refugees was evident, as “The crossing of the sea could not arrest their progress.” Nor did a vessel at sea suffering a shipwreck dissuade them. Furthermore, the migrants are vilified and we read that “their lawless spirit instigated them to violence;…” The migrants arrive and violently sweep throughout the country, burning and murdering, with plans to capture London. How did Mary Shelley foresee this migrant crisis? We can only surmise that Shelley, as an avid reader, learned to think critically about history, psychology, and scientific concepts. As the author of Frankenstein, we see that Shelley was a forward thinker and visionary. She was able to take all of the information available to her and predict what was possible for humanity given man’s nature. True to Shelley’s prediction of forced migration and refugees traveling to safer shores to escape danger, today the world is experiencing a migrant crisis of unprecedented proportions. Since 2013, millions of migrants and refugees, due to political unrest, war, and poverty, have been forced to flee their homelands. Forced to leave their homes in Iraq, sub-Saharan Africa, Libya, and Syria, many face a treacherous journey and must confront the dangers associated with the crossing of borders or traveling by sea. Issues plaguing their journey include human trafficking, rape, shipwreck, or refusal of entrance at the border. Once they have entered the host country, many refugees face other challenges. The refugees need services, homes, and employment. Refugees may be victims of violence and racism as well. Many host countries were not prepared for the deluge of immigrants they have received. Citizens of the host countries are concerned with lack of resources, violence, and the continual flood of immigrants. As a result, there has been an upheaval in many of these countries caused by racial tensions and fearful citizens calling for immigration reform. Citizens are mobilizing in order to prevent the usurpation of their culture and land by the foreigners entering their borders. Many of these citizens are now blaming their governments for the flood of immigrants into their communities; for poor decision-making and implementation; and, for the lack of foresight on behalf of their politicians. How this migrant crisis will resolve itself remains to be seen.