We're doing some research to figure out whether we should create audio versions of our literature guides—your click is like a vote that we should. Though he initially began praising his creation, his joy soon turns to horror at realizing the grotesque, appalling being he created. Frankenstein flees from the creature, and returns to find it gone. As the novel progresses, each of Frankenstein’s loved ones is killed, and he vows himself to seek out the creature and destroy it. The novel shares the story of the incidents that led up to the creation of the monster and the sad destruction of the innocent affected by one man’s unharnessed passion to seek knowledge no matter the cost. Throughout the novel, Shelley portrays the theme of the danger of knowledge in the characters of Walton, Frankenstein, and the creature. Mankind, since its beginning, has always had a great thirst and craving for knowledge. In Frankenstein, Shelley seems to question the wisdom in such a pursuit and sends a precautionary warning to those who read it.
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This thirst for knowledge, though it can be a blessing and beneficial, can become a dangerous endeavor. 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, 75). This quote exemplifies from Walton’s letter how passionately he sought out after knowledge. After Walton finds Frankenstein and brings him aboard, he explains his pursuit to Frankenstein.
Walton expresses that he would sacrifice, “my fortune, my existence, my every hope, to the furtherance of my enterprise. This knowledge and revelation led to his anger and hatred towards mankind and his creator, who also abhorred him. There was no one left to love him, and for that he swore anger and vengeance on his creator who had created him and left him in that state. As the monster grew in knowledge, he grew in bitterness and hatred knowing that all mankind had to offer was exclusively kept from him. His anger came from his rejection and dissatisfaction of knowing that he alone would never be able to experience love, kindness, and sympathy from another fellow human being for as long as he lived. Mary Shelley sent a very clear message through her novel, Frankenstein.
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She warned that those who seek knowledge and secrets might attain them, but lose everything they treasure and care for in the process. Just as in the case with Victor Frankenstein, sometimes unharnessed thirst for knowledge can lead to a devastating end that not only hurts the person seeking knowledge, but all those around them. Shelley sent a message that, like Walton, one must take the time to sit and consider the cost of their enterprise before it is too late. If they are blinded by their goal, they will not see the cost of their search until they cannot turn back. Shelley’s message was not only for those in the 6855’s, but can be said for those in the twenty-first century. In a time when new discoveries are being made every day, is anyone taking into account the detrimental costs that it may have on those in society?
However, if you would like to, you can at any time. Frankenstein is not just a book about a man who creates a Monster. Mary Shelley intended her readers to learn from her tale.