Frankenstein Essay

1573 words - 7 pages

“‘Learn from me, if not by my precepts, at least by my example, how dangerous is the acquirement of knowledge, and how much happier that man is who believes his native town to be the world, than he who aspires to become greater than his nature will allow’” (35), warns Victor Frankenstein in Mary Shelley’s, Frankenstein. Looking back on his life, Victor believes that all his misfortunes—the death of his innocent family and friends and his own maladies—stem from the knowledge he acquired at Ingolstadt. During his time at the University, advancements in science occurred regularly and like most other scholars, Victor desired to make discoveries of his own. Frankenstein’s obsessive pursuit of understanding leads him into trouble, not the procurement of knowledge itself. Isolated from human contact, Victor’s thirst to understand the natural world grows and he eventually attempts to control it; therefore, refusing to accept his place in the natural order of the world. Blinded by his denial, he creates the monster, a miserable creature originally intended to be an improved human, but immediately rejects his work. Throughout the novel, Frankenstein’s thoughts and actions show that knowledge itself does not cause his misfortunes; instead the quest for glory by actively working against the world’s established order and failure to take responsibility results in his mishaps and unhappiness.
Frankenstein’s attempt to learn more about the world and gain answers beings as an innocent quest for knowledge but turns in to a dangerous journey in the pursuit of glory at all costs to himself. The catastrophe of this tree excited my extreme astonishment; and I eagerly inquired of my father the nature and origin of thunder and lightning” (24). At a young age, the mysteries of the natural world captured his attention. Victor’s desire to learn more about the lightning that destroyed the tree seems only natural, and by deciding to dedicated his studies to science, he follows a common career path during his time. While at the University, however, he deviates from his original studies and beings to pursue knowledge, not for the sake of understanding, but for his own personal gain. “But what glory would attend the discovery, if I could banish disease from the human frame and render man invulnerable to any but a violent death” (23). Fascinating about the fame he would receive is he discovered cures to many human ailments, Victor’s obsession with this possible prestige increases; he begins to abandon his young and more virtuous self. He fails to visit his family and friends in Geneva fro over tow years so he can focus completely on his experiments, “which procured [him] great esteem and admiration at the university” (33). The gratification he feels from personal recognition and spurns him to study more fervently. By completely isolating himself in his lab—for the sake of glory—his first self-imposed misfortunes arise. “My cheek had grown pale with study, and my person...

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