Mary Shelley’s “Frankenstein”

Mary Shelley’s “Frankenstein”, published in 1818, tells the story of a young scientist who comes upon the secretes to create life. “This novel is a speculative narrative that asks: what would happen if man created human life without the biologically and relationally necessary woman and with indifference to God?” (Hogsette).  In “Frankenstein”, Mary Shelley seems to question the wisdom in such a pursuit of knowledge and sends a precautionary warning to those who read it. She warns the those who seek knowledge and secrets might attain them, but lose everything they treasure ad care for in the process. Throughout the novel, Shelley portrays the theme of the danger of knowledge in the characters of Captain Walton, Frankenstein, and the creature.

Paragraph I: The first character that Shelley introduces that shares this passion for knowledge and the unknown is Robert Walton. At the beginning of the story, Walton begins by writing to his sister and informs her of his yearning to seek out the unknown. Walton expressed to his sister how she cannot imagine the benefit that he would, “confer on all mankind to the last generation, by discovering a passage near the pole to those countries, to reach which at present so many months are requisite; or by ascertaining the secret of the magnet, which, if at all possible, can only be effected by an undertaking such as mine.” (Shelley). This quote exemplifies from Walton’s letter how passionately he sought out after knowledge. After Walton finds Frankenstein and brings him aboard, he explains hi pursuit to Frankenstein. Walton expresses that he would sacrifice, “my fortune, my existence, my every hope, to the furtherance of my enterprise. One man’s life or death were but a small price to pay for for the acquirement of the knowledge which I sought for the dominion I should acquire and transmit over the elemental foes of our race” (Shelley). This quote foreshadows the dangerous path Walton is treading upon. Once compared to the story of Frankenstein, the reader can understand that the dangerous road Walton was on, could ultimately lead to a similar result as Frankenstein’s. Thankfully, Walton heeded the advice of Frankenstein, and was spared a possible dreadful ending.

Paragraph II: Mankind, since the beginning, had always had a great thirst and craving for knowledge. This thirst for knowledge, though it can be a blessing and beneficial, can become a dangerous endeavor. Mary Shelly portrays how dangerous the pursuit of knowledge is in Victor’s quest by how he tries to go beyond what is capable of human limits and his attempt to bring something back to life. Unfortunately, for Frankenstein his pursuit of knowledge would lead to his demise. “The problem central to Frankenstein is the belief of its central character that he can perform the ultimate usurpation, that of God. There is an extreme vanity and egotism acting as the motivating force for Victor’s work, as opposed to a disinterested desire to further the interest of the human race in general.” (Bond). As he in knowledge and intelligence grew, so his infatuation with the human frame and discovering the secret to create life. At last, when Frankenstein came upon the secret that led him to begin the construction of a creation, he worked continually. Not for a moment did Frankenstein step back to rationalize what he was creating. He was blinded to all except the thought of success and creating life. As a result, Victor’s creation was born. As the monster came to life, only then did Victor understand what he created. He abhorred his own creation, and could not lay eyes on it for fear and horror.

Paragraph III: The third and final example in Shelley’s novel that displayed a desire for knowledge was Frankenstein’s creation -the creature. When the monster was brought to life, he was like a newborn babe. Unable to distinguish his surroundings and completely defenseless, he wandered around searching for comfort. Like a child, he grew in knowledge as he roamed, and soon was able to distinguish between simple items such as the sun, moon, berries, and fire. more knowledge the creature acquires, the more was ruthless/vicious he becomes. This is because he realizes that no-one will accept him for who he truly is, instead they will always see how hideous he appears. As a result of the knowledge