Lessons from Mary Shelly's Frankenstein

What is knowledge?

Knowledge is power. Knowledge HAS power. It has the power to create and to destroy. It has the ability to change the world, for good or for bad.

"The ancient teachers of this science," said he, "promised impossibilities and performed nothing. The modern masters promise very little; they know that metals cannot be transmuted and that the elixir of life is a chimera but these philosophers, whose hands seem only made to dabble in dirt, and their eyes to pore over the microscope or crucible, have indeed performed miracles. They penetrate into the recesses of nature and show how she works in her hiding-places. They ascend into the heavens; they have discovered how the blood circulates, and the nature of the air we breathe. They have acquired new and almost unlimited powers; they can command the thunders of heaven, mimic the earthquake, and even mock the invisible world with its own shadows." -Chapter 3, pg. 32-33(Shelley)

Knowledge, Friendship, and Responsibility in the Modern World


"In spite of the intense labor and wonderful discoveries of modern philosophers, I always came from my studies discontented and dis-satisfied."-pg. 39, Lines 13-16. Man never seems satisfied with what he already knows.

"The untaught peasant beheld the elements around him and was acquainted with their practical uses, the most learned philosopher knew little more."-pg. 39, Lines 22-23. Scholars don't really know as much as they say they know.

"I had gazed upon the fortifications that seemed to keep human beings from entering the citadel of nature, and rashly and ignorantly I had repined."-pg. 39, Lines 28-30. Some things men aren't meant to know.

"He had partially unveiled the face of Nature, bit her immortal lineaments were still a wonder and a mystery. He might dissect, anatomize, give names; but, not to speak of a final cause, causes in their secondary and tertiary grades were utterly unknown to him"-pg. 39, Lines 23-27. No matter how much we analyze, there is much that we don't know, and probably shouldn't know.

"So much has been done, exclaimed the soul of Frankenstein-more, far more, will I achieve; treading in the steps already marked, I will pioneer a new way, explore unknown powers, and unfold to the world the deepest mysteries of creation. "pg. 47, Lines 14-18. Man has an innate want for knowledge and power, so much so it can change his personality.

Works Cited

Shelley, Mary. Frankenstein. N.p.: Penguin, 1983. Print.

"Google." Google. Google, n.d. Web. 07 Dec. 2015.