The pursuit of knowledge is at the heart of Frankenstein. In the letters at the beginning of the novel, Robert Walton had been writing to his sister of how he longs to travel the seas and attempts to surpass previous human explorations by endeavoring to reach the North Pole. Due to his pursuit of knowledge, he finds himself in a dangerous position trapped between sheets of ice. Victor’s pursuit of knowledge started from when he was just a child. The narrator begins to pick apart and identify the aspects of his personality that will eventually lead to his downfall. He possesses what he calls a "thirst for knowledge." Thirst, of course, is a fundamental human need, necessary to one's very survival. Victor's desire to learn, therefore, is driven by nothing so insubstantial as curiosity. It is instead the precondition of his very being. The fascinations of the human soul and how the body works, intensifying his thirst by reading the books of Cornelius Agrippa, Paracelsus and Albertus Magnus. As Victor attempts to surge beyond accepted human limits and access the secret of life, his creation ends up destroying everyone that he had care for. Although the two had a thirst for knowledge, one quickly realized that they had chosen a dangerous path, Robert Walton. "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." ( letter IV pg 39)From the wise words of Victor, Walton ultimately pulls back from his treacherous mission, having learned from Victor’s example how destructive the thirst for knowledge can be. The theme of the pursuit of knowledge leads into the theme of secrecy. Victor keeps his studies and his experiment of his creation a secret. He also keeps the knowledge of Williams killer a secret because it was his creation of the monster that murdered the innocent boy.
In chapter two, Victor witnesses the destructive power of nature when, during a raging storm, lightning destroys a tree near his house. “ It was not splintered by the shock, but entirely reduced to thin ribands of wood. I never beheld anything so utterly destroyed.” (pg 48) Therefore Victor had witnessed the destructive powers of nature and was astonished that something so beautiful could be destroyed so abruptly. The world of nature that is expressed in the book can be argued that it affects the moods of characters in the novel. The sublime natural world, embraced by Romanticism as a source of unrestrained emotional experience for the individual. It initially offers characters the possibility of spiritual renewal. Mired in depression and remorse after the deaths of William and Justine, for which Victor responsible, Victor heads to the mountains to lift his spirits. The harsh winter that Victor endured symbolised depression and remorse. As well, after a the hellish winter of cold and abandonment, the monster feels his heart lighten as spring arrives. The influence of nature on mood is evident throughout the novel, but for Victor, the natural world’s power to console him wanes when he realizes that the monster will haunt him no matter where he goes. By the end, as Victor chases the monster obsessively, nature, in the form of the Arctic desert, functions simply as the symbolic scenery for his primal struggle against the monster.
Victor has been in a stage of secrecy since he was a child. Because of his interests and ambitions that no one could understand, he stayed in secrecy. Victor conceives of science as a mystery to be examined and discover its secrets, once discovered, must be jealously guarded. He considers M. Krempe, the natural philosopher he meets at Ingolstadt, a model scientist: “an uncouth man, but deeply imbued in the secrets of his science.” Victor’s entire obsession with creating life is shrouded in secrecy, and his obsession with destroying the monster remains equally secret until Walton hears his tale. Whereas...
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