Knowledge in Frankenstein

By Matt Markulin

Introduction

Mary Shelley's Frankenstein is a perfect example of how knowledge is a perfect life lesson. Throughout the entire text, Shelley ties the theme of knowledge to Victor and the creature by explaining their pursuit of knowledge and the lengths they will go to become more intellectual.

Quotes

Victor: "When I had attained the age of seventeen my parents resolved that I should become a student at the University of Ingolstadt. I had hitherto attended the schools of Geneva, but my father thought it necessary for the completion of my education that I should be made acquainted with other customs than those of my native country." In this quote Victor is saying how he went to attend college at the University of Ingolstadt. It also shows that Victor is ambitious about learning and the pursuit of knowledge. (P.28)

Victor: "Sometimes I grew alarmed at the wreck I perceived that I had become; the energy of my purpose alone sustained me: my labors would soon end, and I believed that exercise and amusement would then drive away incipient disease; and I promised myself both of these when my creation should be complete." In this quote, Victor is saying how his pursuit of knowledge at developing the creature have worn him down, and how he has lost such things as exercise and amusement in his life. It also shows how by pursuing knowledge too much can be bad for your health. (P.41)


Victor: "How can I describe my emotions at this catastrophe, or how delineate the wretch whom with such infinite pains and care I had endeavored to form?" In this quote, Victor is at a loss for words because of what he has done. He at this point realizes the mistake he has made, and how he has used knowledge in a negative way. (P.42)


The Creature: "One day, when I was oppressed by the cold, I found a fire which had been left by some wandering beggars, and was overcome with delight at the warmth I experienced from it. In my joy I thrust my hand into the live embers, but quickly drew it out again with a cry of pain." In this quote, the creature is telling Victor about his first experience with fire, and how it was a learning experience for him. This quote can be interpreted two ways for the pursuit of knowledge. One way of looking at it, is that the creature's pursuit of knowledge and curiosity about the fire caused him pain. The other way of looking at it, is that by burning his hand, he will more than likely not touch fire in the future. (P.85)


The Creature: "Every conversation of the cottagers now opened new wonders to me. While I listened to the instructions which Felix bestowed upon the Arabian, the strange system of human society was explained to me. I heard of the division of property, of immense wealth and squalid poverty, of rank, descent, and noble blood." In this quote, the creature is saying how by listening to the cottagers, he was able to gain knowledge about human society, and the negatives about it. This pursuit of knowledge could possibly help fuel his hatred for humans and human society as a whole. (P.100)


The Creature: "Why did you form a monster so hideous that even you turned from me in disgust?" In this quote, the creature is telling Victor about how he read Victor's journal and was disgusted by what he read. The creature's pursuit of knowledge caused him to become upset about what he is and the circumstances of his existence. (P.110)

My Thoughts on the Pursuit of Knowledge

Personally I believe that the pursuit of knowledge is a wonderful thing that all humans should attempt. Generally, people who have higher levels of education tend to make more money not only yearly, but over their lifetime. They also tend to produce more successful children and live healthier and longer lives. At the same time, the pursuit of knowledge can have a negative impact on not only you, but the world. By focusing on knowledge, your health can deteriorate and your social life may fall apart. In the book, Victor's health wore down, to the point where it was easily noticeable. His relationship with his loved ones also became strained and eventually his pursuit of knowledge had them killed. I believe that the pursuit of knowledge is a good and a bad thing for the reasons mentioned above. The pursuit of knowledge can ultimately be a good thing if it is controlled and not abused by the power-hungry and the greedy.

The Importance of the Pursuit of Knowledge

The pursuit of knowledge is extremely important. Without it, human society wouldn't be as advanced as it is today. We may not have the medicines that we do, the various forms of transportation that we have, and the level of understanding of how things work, and why we are the way that we are. Though there are negatives to the pursuit of knowledge, that shouldn't stop us from wanting to learn and make the world a better and safer place to live. The pursuit of knowledge can even eliminate the negative things from the world. Take the nuclear bomb as an example. Though the creation of it was an extreme risk to the existence of the world, humans have been able to think of ways to control it, thus creating a long term peace. I believe that if humans hold back the pursuit of knowledge, or limit it to only select individuals, the world as we know it will cease to exist.

Citations

Shelley, Mary Wollstonecraft, and Maurice Hindle. "Chapter 3." Frankenstein, Or, The Modern Prometheus. London: Penguin, 2003. 28. Print.

Shelley, Mary Wollstonecraft, and Maurice Hindle. "Chapter 4." Frankenstein, Or, The Modern Prometheus. London: Penguin, 2003. 41. Print.

Shelley, Mary Wollstonecraft, and Maurice Hindle. "Chapter 5." Frankenstein, Or, The Modern Prometheus. London: Penguin, 2003. 42. Print.

Shelley, Mary Wollstonecraft, and Maurice Hindle. "Chapter 11." Frankenstein, Or, The Modern Prometheus. London: Penguin, 2003. 85. Print.

Shelley, Mary Wollstonecraft, and Maurice Hindle. "Chapter 13." Frankenstein, Or, The Modern Prometheus. London: Penguin, 2003. 100. Print.

Shelley, Mary Wollstonecraft, and Maurice Hindle. "Chapter 15." Frankenstein, Or, The Modern Prometheus. London: Penguin, 2003. 110. Print.

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