The Literary Quest For Happiness Essay

1646 words - 7 pages

"Why does that which makes a man happy have to become the source of his misery"

-Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe

"The Sorrows of Young Werther"

Curiosities Backhand

Curiosity; the desire to know. The human race continually fights a battle against the unknown. At times, man's conquest of the unknown leads to his downfall. In Mary Shelley's novel, Frankenstein, the monster is left in painstaking solitude after the abandonment of his creator, Victor Frankenstein. He has no knowledge of the world around him. His curiosity ultimately leads to his own misery and violent behavior. This lack of social acceptance plays a crucial role in the monster's quest for knowledge of mankind. As the monster gains more knowledge of the world around him he becomes disillusioned by his loneliness. In particular, the relationships that other beings are involved in finally leads the monster to reject his creator.

A similar comparison can be made with the character of Satan, from John Milton's Paradise Lost. Satan, offended that his creator did not appoint him the savior for mankind, rejects God and his heavenly palace. Cast down to hell, Satan rallies the other fallen angels in opposition to God. He then invokes curiosity to tempt God's perfect man to eat from the tree of knowledge. Man now possesses the innate fallibility to sin; or turn away from God's will. It becomes evident that curiosity plays the hand of destruction. The monster's rejection leads to a curiosity that provokes his downfall and the death of his creator. Satan's rejection triggers his clever use of curiosity to gain revenge over his creator through man's downfall.

The monster of Frankenstein is thrust into life as an adult. He was not granted a childhood full of mistakes, support, and learning experiences. He is much like a blank slate; which at this point has provided no reason for him to be ill tempered or bitter towards others. However, his own creator rejects him first glance. He is left to survive alone; nonetheless immersed into a world that is unknown. He tells Victor that he can forgive him if he will just fulfill his duty as creator and offer some compassion. The monster explains. "Everywhere I see bliss, from which I alone am irrevocably excluded. I was benevolent and good; misery made me a fiend. Make me happy, and I shall be virtuous again (Frankenstein, 94)." Examples of the monster's initial generous character can be seen when he provides the De Lacey family with daily firewood.

Not only did the hurtful rejection of his creator drive the monster mad, but the cruel cold shun of others intensified his pain. The monster often refers to this treatment as "the barbarity of man." Whenever he encounters more men he thinks to himself, "I remember(ed) too well my treatment the night before, to trust myself in his power (Frankenstein, 99.)" Throughout the entire novel, the prominent theme of rejection and exile loom in the readers mind. Not one soul was kind enough to...

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