Pursuit Of Knowledge Frankenstein Essay Outline

Knowledge in Shelly’s Frankenstein Essay

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In Shelly’s ‘Frankenstein’, the theme of Knowledge is cultivated for multiple purposes. These include the effects of scientific advances, the de-mystification of nature, nature’s revenge and social relations in the romantic era. By examining knowledge in relation to the characters of Victor, Walton and the Creature it can be seen that the theme of knowledge is used a warning against the Enlightenment and a personification of the social injustices of the time.

Frankenstein, in his Faustian quest for knowledge, comes to symbolise ‘the man of science’ within the text. His family background and social position places him as a man of the enlightenment. It is therefore arguable that Frankenstein represents the empirical strand of…show more content…

The ‘dissecting room’ reinforces the stereotype of the enlightened scientist as they would have been concerned with the secrets of human anatomy, thus gaining knowledge from nature. Therefore, it is because of Frankenstein’s trespasses into the realm of nature that he is suitably punished by the power of nature.

"Nature” in Frankenstein appears to be a remarkably fragile moral concept of ambiguous implication. It is as if the Monster, generated within the sanctum of nature, at home in its most sublime settings, might himself represent the final secret of nature, its force of forces[…]Nature does not protect Clerval from the malignant possibilities of nature itself. There are more than sounding cataracts and sublime mountains in nature: there are also one's friends' monsters and the disseminated pieces of monstrous creation

It can be argued that Brook’s opinion suggests that the Creature is synonymous with the power of nature and therefore the creature’s acts against Frankenstein’s family are actually the revenge of nature. Thus showing that Frankenstein’s quest for knowledge has been punished by a higher power. This could also be taken as a wider criticism of scientific knowledge of the time; for example with the appearance of radical new sciences such as ‘Galvanism’. ‘It took

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The Danger of Knowledge: Frankenstein

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The Danger of Knowledge The book Frankenstein is about a man’s life that is ruined by his thirst for knowledge. Mary Shelley portrays the quest for knowledge as dangerous. She believes that it leads to self destruction, whether it is minimal or severe. Shelley shows these types of destruction in three of her characters; Victor Frankenstein, the monster, and Robert Walton. Victor Frankenstein is a scientist whose life is ruined by his thirst for knowledge. It leads to his interest in “the secret to life”.

He dreams about the possibilities of creating life using electricity and body parts from dead men. After a long time studying and doing research Victor tell us, “After days and nights of incredible labor and fatigue, I succeeded in discovering the cause of generation and life; nay, more, I became myself capable of bestowing animation upon lifeless matter. ”(Shelley 34) Victor knows the power his knowledge has, and even shows concern about how to use it. He says, “When I found so astonishing a power placed within my hands, I hesitated a long time concerning the manner in which I should employ it. (Shelley 35) Despite this hesitation, he takes action anyway.

This is important because it shows Victor’s willingness to ignore his conscience and use his knowledge despite the risk. Victor created life because of his own greed, and now the monster haunts him and his family endlessly. Victor Frankenstein used his knowledge to play the part of God by creating life out of the dead. Unlike God, Victor can not care for his creation and therefore pays the price for his mistake.

The monster’s learning experiences and knowledge, though not as advanced as Victor’s, are an important part of the book. Through out the novel the monster goes through new experiences and gains knowledge that ultimately leads to failure and anger. The monster wants to learn more and has a great desire for knowledge. He always listens closely to the human’s discussion and teachings. He talks about finding and learning from some of their books. He says, “The possession of these treasures gave me extreme delight; I now continually studied and exercised my mind upon these histories. (Shelley 88)

Just like Victor at the beginning of the novel, he is thirsty for knowledge and reads everything that he can lay his hands on. With this new knowledge he tries to introduce himself to the Mr. Delacey, who is blind. (Everything was fine until his family came home and attacked the monster). The monster felt terror and anger and he tore apart the forest. Feeling more lonely than ever, the monster demands that Victor create a companion for him. When Victor rips apart his companion the monster kills more of Victor’s loved ones.

Though he seems like it, the monster is not a killing machine that feels nothing after murdering. He is tortured by the knowledge that he has killed. Even though the monster does some things that are evil, he knows what he is doing is wrong and his conscious is flooded with that knowledge. Robert Walton is a ship captain with a desire for knowledge and a thirst for the unknown. In his letters he reveals to his sister that he hopes to help humanity and to be well known someday by finding a passage through the North Pole that would cut travel time considerably.

Walton also states in his letters that he is lonely and in need of a friend because of the demands of his chosen path to fame. “To be friendless is indeed to be unfortunate” (Shelley 21). Walton’s first letter appears again in Victor’s narrative, this time in a scientific context. When describing his discovery of the secret of life, he says, “From the midst of this darkness a sudden light broke in upon me—a light so brilliant and wondrous. ”(Shelley 34) Light reveals and leads the way; it is essential for seeing, and seeing is the way to knowledge.

However, just as light can brighten your path, it can blind the one who walks it. Victor then warns Walton of “how dangerous is the acquirement of knowledge. ”(Shelley 35) Walton pulls back from his mission to find a passage to the North Pole. Had Victor Frankenstein not worked so hard to discover the key to producing life and of wanting to be knowledgeable of something that he could not handle; the lives of those he loved wouldn’t have been in danger. The monster’s knowledge of his creator’s disgust is a danger to everyone.

Had he not known of his ugly looks and had he not felt the desire to fit in then maybe he would have lived a better life. Walton ultimately pulls back from his treacherous mission, having learned from Victor’s example of how destructive the thirst for knowledge can be. Frankenstein shows us that the pursuit of knowledge is often to high a price to pay.

Works Cited

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Shelley, Mary. Frankenstein. 1818. ED. and introd. Marilyn Butler. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1994. Print.

Author: Dave Villacorta

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The Danger of Knowledge: Frankenstein

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