What is Frankenstein’s monster? Is the Monster a man? Is he a living, breathing demon? What does he represent? Is the Monster a representation of the dangers of playing with science? Is he representative of the dangers of pursuing knowledge? Alternatively, does he reveal to us the dangers of playing God? Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein uses Victor Frankenstein’s creation to expose the dangers of knowledge and playing God. Shelley exposes the readers to how in the pursuit of knowledge, man too often opens Pandora’s Box and unleashes unforeseen dangers unto the world. Shelley uses Victor Frankenstein and his creation to expose how knowledge and the pursuit of knowledge are explosive.
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Unlike most schoolchildren his age, Frankenstein dismissed adventure and a standard education in favor of exploring the darker, unexplored areas of science. He treats science as a locked box of secrets for him to open and play around in.
Since his childhood, Frankenstein has had an interest in the secrets of heaven and earth:
Life and death have captivated his mind. In Frankenstein’s view, death is not ugly, it is beauty: My attention was fixed upon every object the most insupportable to the delicacy of the human feelings. I saw how the fine form of man was degraded and wasted; I beheld the corruption of death succeed to the blooming cheek of life; I saw how the worm inherited the wonders of the eye and brain. I paused, examining and analyzing all the minutiae of causation, as exemplified in the change from life to death, and death to life… (Shelley 38)
Frankenstein has a unique view of death. Shelley’s use of vivid imagery helps the reader view death and decomposition from his point of view. Frankenstein sees life in death. Shelley creates an image of decomposition similar to that of growth and exploration. The use of word the “blooming” is interesting. Blooming is typically associated with spring, growth, and beauty. Shelley uses bloom to relate life to death. It propels Frankenstein’s desire to create the Monster and discover how life blooms.
He knows that by creating life, he will earn the glory never achieved by those before him. Frankenstein is not pursing knowledge for knowledge’s sake; he does it for glory (Northam). In Walton’s own pursuit of knowledge, although it poses no threat to humanity, he believes one man’s death a small price to pay for the knowledge he wants to acquire and the glory he would gain. Frankenstein himself believes that these risks are a necessity in scientific discoveries and glory. He does not concern himself with anything outside his realm of discovery. Frankenstein takes all risks that result in tragic consequences all in the pursuit of knowledge. His obsession with the science of life is death is an obsession for which he allows others to pay the price. Justine and William are the small prices the world must pay in Frankenstein’s pursuit of knowledge. The pursuit of knowledge creates victims. When Frankenstein ignores the human side of his work, none of his actions are admirable (Rauch 1). When he ignores the human elements in research and learning, he is unable to stop himself and ask how his actions will affect those alive today and the future generations. Frankenstein is a thoughtless person. He allows his ideas to consume him.
From the moment man turned to science is has been considered dangerous. Scientists and those outside of the world of science have continually asked themselves about what, if any, limitations should humankind put on science and what are the social responsibilities of a scientist. The term knowledge is power does not truly describe the power given to Frankenstein through his...