The Danger of Knowledge

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The Danger of Knowledge

As he went on, I felt as if my soul were grappling with a palpable enemy; one by one the various keys were touched which formed the mechanism of my being; chord after chord was sounded, and soon my mind was filled with one thought, one conception, one purpose. 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.

~ Mary Shelley, Frankenstein
In Frankenstein, Shelley illustrates the dangers of blindly pursuing knowledge, starting at the roots of Victor Frankenstein’s obsessive passion, where his powerful determination shoves out all thoughts of fatal consequence, eventually leading to the creation of the monster that ends up destroying everything that mattered to him. The stanza begins with Frankenstein’s description of his feelings when he listened to the lecture of his chemistry professor M. Waldman. He describes it first as a battle between his soul and an enemy, but it soon changes into a feeling of being molded and defined, eventually completely assimilating Frankenstein into performing that “one thought, one conception, one purpose.” It can be deduced from this first line that Frankenstein’s former beliefs were at first challenged by the professor, but then changed by his teachings and materialized within Frankenstein as a new goal. In the next line, Frankenstein acknowledges the scientific advancements made by man, followed by showing his fierce determination to surpass them and achieve more. The stanza ends with the revealing of Frankenstein’s new goal—the unveiling of all secrets behind the “mysteries of creation,” marking the beginning of his end.

Frankenstein’s obsessive pursuit for knowledge was fruitful at first, gaining him “esteem and admiration at the university” (30). He “continually sought the attainment of one object of pursuit...
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