Importance of Knowledge

The Lesson to be Learned

Throughout the story of Frankenstein, Mary Shelley conveys the theme of knowledge by showing us that too much knowledge can be dangerous.


"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."
~This quote is foreshadowing the main mistake Victor had made, which was creating the monster. His knowledge of how to defy death essentially ruined his entire life.

"Seek happiness in tranquility and avoid ambition, even if it be only the apparently innocent one of distinguishing yourself in science and discoveries."
~In this quote, Victor is telling us to not get wrapped up in discoveries of knowledge, even if it is your dream. He is also saying that you should find happiness in the simple life. It reminds us of the old saying: ignorance is bliss.

"You seek for knowledge and wisdom, as I once did; and I ardently hope that the gratification of your wishes may not be a serpent to sting you, as mine has been."
~Here, Victor is telling Walton that he hopes that his acquirement of knowledge does not destroy him like it did to Victor.

"For this I had deprived myself of rest and health. I had desired it with an ardor that far exceeded moderation; but now that I had finished, the beauty of the dream vanished, and breathless horror and disgust filled my heart."

~Mary Shelley is telling us in this quote that too much knowledge is not healthy because Victor got so caught up in his learning that he didn't give himself time for anything else. In the end, his creation wasn't what he thought it was going to be and it was not worth it. It caused him more struggles than anything else.

"It was the secrets of heaven and earth that I desired to learn; and whether it was the outward substance of things, or the inner spirit of nature and the mysterious soul of man that occupied me, still my inquiries were directed to the metaphysical, or, in it highest sense, the physical secrets of the world."

~Here, Victor is admitting that the knowledge he seeks are ones which should not be looked for. Victor is admitting that the knowledge he is seeking is forbidden.

"What was I? Of my creation and creator I was absolutely ignorant, but I knew that I possessed no money, no friends, no kind of property…When I looked around I saw and heard of none like me. Was I, then, a monster, a blot upon the earth, from which all men fled and whom all men disowned? I cannot describe to you the agony that these reflections inflicted upon me; I tried to dispel them, but sorrow only increased with knowledge.”

~Before the creature sought out understanding, he didn't realize that he was a monster. After finding out that Victor created him and basically left him to die, he became very upset and ended up killing people.


An example of a modern connection that shows how too much knowledge can be dangerous is that weapons of mass destruction have been created. Atomic bombs, for example, were used in August 1945 during World War II by the United States for the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. We killed over 200,000 civilians in an attempt to make Japan surrender (http://en.wikipedia.or/wiki/Atomic_bombings_of_Hiroshima_and_Nagasaki).

Another modern connection would be the new 3D printers. These printers can create object made out of plastic in just a few hours. Many of the objects being made are guns. These guns are made out of plastic, but work just like a real gun. The problem is that metal detectors can't sense them. Because of this, people can create their own guns and sneak them into places without being caught