Frankenstein’s Letters: Glory and Knowledge
In Frankenstein’s introductory letters, Robert Walton, writing to his sister, presents a hunger for glory that he will attempt to attain through the danger of seeking knowledge. After the acquisition of strength and the ability to finally speak, the stranger tells Walton that “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,” implying that with this hunger for glory fueled with knowledge, comes a quest that inevitably leads to a man’s downfall as it did for him. With this, the stranger decides to tell Walton his story of “unparalleled misfortunes” with the intention of discouraging Walton from being so resolute in accomplishing great glory and recognition that deteriorates one in the process like the stranger’s yet to be told previous experiences. Glory, Walton’s main driving force, is revealed as he exclaimed that “life might have been passed in ease and luxury; but [he] preferred glory to every enticement that wealth placed in [his] path." With Walton’s fascination of what may be in store on this expedition, he’s driven more by the thirst for recognition and accomplishment than just the pursuit of knowledge for its own sake. Any crave for glory leaves no chance for rational perception of what is and is not possible making it an undoubtedly dangerous pursuit. Both glory and knowledge empowering Walton to continue on this quest will and always has brought all men to their future demise as the capacity to fulfill them will bring the endeavor to surpass any human limitation.
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