In Chapter 4, Frankenstein is currently attending the university of Ingolstadt. After meeting with his teachers, he has decided to devote his studies to natural philosophy. This is a major turning point in his life. He has devoted his life to understanding life and death in order to somehow reverse the effect of death and bring life to a once lifeless form.
M. Krempe: He teaches natural philosophy in Ingolstadt. At first, he and Victor did not get along well. Victor learns much from M. Krempe, but they are never close.
M. Waldman: Victor describes him as different from M. Krempe. He finds him engaging and interesting as well as interested. Victor finds a friend in M. Waldman. As their relationship progresses, they seem to become mentor and student.
"I was like the Arabian who had been buried with the dead and found a passage to life, aided only be one glimmering and seemingly ineffectual light" (Shelley 42).
Frankenstein describes his study as slowly unfolding. He has been in the dark all of this time, but, slowly and surely, he is heading towards the light. He is finding answers one by one.
"If this rule were always observed; if no man allowed any pursuit whatsoever to interfere with the tranquility of his domestic affections, Greece had not been enslaved, Caesar would have spared his country, American would have been discovered more gradually, and the empires of Mexico and Peru had not been destroyed" (Shelley 44).
Frankenstein is helping to foreshadow his fate. In this, he is saying that in the pursuit of one's passions, one can often find themselves in unintended consequences. This is because in the pursuit of passions, one does not always stop and think about what will happen when the goal is reached. Because of this, Frankenstein was excited to be creating life, but he hardly gave a thought to what creating life would mean.
"Winter, spring, and summer passed away during my labours; but I did not watch the blossom or the expanding leaves -- sights which before always yielded me supreme delight -- so deeply was I engrossed in my occupation. The leaves of that year had withered before my work drew near to a close . . . " (Shelley 44).
This foreshadows the decline of Frankenstein's health - both mentally and physically. The seasons are changing, summer into fall, and he hardly notices because he's so caught up in his work.
"But my enthusiasm was checked by my anxiety, and I appeared rather like one doomed by slavery to toil in the mines, or any other unwholesome trade than an artist occupied by his favourite employment. Every night I was oppressed by a slow fever, and I became nervous to a most painful degree; the fall of a leaf startled me, and I shunned my fellow creatures as if I had been guilty of a crime" (Shelley 44).
This quote also foreshadows the decline of Frankenstein. He starts to become anxious, ill and paranoid. The last line where he begins to shy away from other people also foreshadows what is yet to come. He is human like the rest of them, but later he does not feel wholly so. Instead, he begins to separate himself from them because of his guilt and anxiety.
"Not that, like a magic scene, it all opened upon me at once . . . " (Shelley 42).
It shows how his studies unfolded before him. He had been blind to this knowledge, and, suddenly, he's becoming passionate and fixated on this new intellect before him.
Danger of Knowledge -
"I do not think that the pursuit of knowledge is an exception to this rule. If you study to which you apply yourself has a tendency to weaken your affections and to destroy your taste for those simple pleasures in which no alloy can possibly mix, then that study is certainly unlawful, that is to say, not befitting the human mind" (Shelley 44).
Frankenstein thinks that it is very important to pursue one's passions. However, he is saying that the pursuit of knowledge is not an exception. He says that if the pursuit of knowledge is weakening and poisonous, it is cannot be good.
Death and Life/ Dark and Light -
"Whence, I often asked myself, did the principle of life proceed?" (Shelley 41).
"To examine the causes of life, we must first have recourse to death" (Shelley 41).
"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" (Shelley 42).
"Life and death appeared to me ideal bounds, which I should first break through, and pour a torrent of light into our dark world" (Shelley 43).
To know life, one must also have experience with death. Frankenstein understands this. He references earlier that he started his studies in the dark, and, slowly, he makes his way towards the light. Overall, Frankenstein is a darker novel. The dark and the light (life and death) seem to be at war with each other. Frankenstein's creature was supposed to be good to him; it was supposed to be his joy and his accomplishment. Instead, it became his most feared nightmare and, ultimately, his undoing.
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Shelley, Mary Wollstonecraft, and Diana Gibson. Frankenstein. Madrid, España: Edimat Libros, 2000. Print.