Lack of Knowledge
"Knowledge is power." This is a famous phrase that has a lot of truth to it. What if the knowledge is incomplete? Is it still powerful or just a burden? Frankenstein and his creature are a prime example of the burden brought on one's life through incomplete knowledge. Frankenstein has a great grasp of knowledge of the physical world but lacks that grasp of knowledge of the emotional world. He creates a creature with the mind of a human but with a body that is severely disformed. I will discuss how the creature can be viewed as a symbol of Frankenstein's lack of knowledge and how that can be a burden on life, through an examination of their experiences, formal and informal. In some ways, the creature's gain in knowledge can be seen to resemble Frankenstein's gain in knowledge, as in when the creature starts learning from books. In other ways, their experiences are very much different.
As the novel progresses, it is very apparent that the word "world" for Frankenstein, is very much narrow-minded and limited. Frankenstein speaks of childhood and points out that he would rather seek knowledge of the "world" though investigation, instead of following the creations of the poets. (Shelly 87) He thirsts for knowledge of the material world. If he notices an idea that is not yet realized in the material world, he attempts to work on the idea to get it realized, or give it a worldly existence. He creates the creature and rejects it because its worldly form did not reflect the brilliance of his original idea. The unlearned creature is thrown out into the world and is forced to discover the hidden meanings behind human life and society, on his own. Frankenstein speaks fondly of his youth because his parents were lenient and his companions were pleasant. (21) His parents' believed that when bringing up their children there should not be punishment or a strict hold telling their children what to do. (21) Instead, they encourage their children to study hard, and to know what the goal is that their children plan to reach through that studying. (21) His parents thought, by having their children create their own process to reach an end goal, that their children would be able to avoid learning unnecessary lessons. Frankenstein liked this and thought it made him learn better and comprehend the knowledge more clearly. Frankenstein's in the home education is influenced greatly by Rousseau, an articulate writer of the "Age of Enlightenment." (24) In his novel Emily, Rousseau's new theory on education was that the importance of expression was greater than using one's control to produce a intellectual and free-thinking child. Her theory on education also led to more lenient and psychologically oriented methods for caring for children. (25) A child taught and brought up through these principles is essentially more of a free man than the children who were not. Because part of the hidden summary allows for the constant unearthing of new processes and methods, it in turn denies the past teachings from having too strong an ideological and academic hold on the newer generations. (Shelly 37) This new method of education is a unique combination of structure and freedom that one can find, and it is this combination that produced the modern day follower of Alberta Magnus and Paracelsus in Frankenstein, who duplicates his past fantasies with modern scientific tools and methods. (42) The creature, on the other hand, is an untamed and rabid version of the free individual. Without the structured approaches of an education system, and the support, love, and shelter of a family, the creature in spite of that gains an education of sorts. He does this by reacting to his environment and life; his basic needs for shelter, food, warmth and companionship.(46) In the book, Mary Shelly: Her Life, Her Fiction, Her Monsters, Anne Mellor argues that the creature is Mary Shelly's allusion...
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