Shelley's View on Knowledge

Topics: Frankenstein, Mary Shelley, Prometheus Pages: 3 (831 words) Published: January 16, 2008
Shelley's View on Knowledge
In the present-day society, knowledge and technology play a large role in our everyday lives. Humanity has reaped huge benefits from our continuous pursuit of knowledge; knowledge is one of the major factors that have helped mankind gain the position of the dominant species on this planet. However, knowledge is like fire; it can bring us huge benefits, but it can also cause devastating negative effects. This is shown in Mary Shelley's Frankenstein: or the Modern Prometheus, where Victor Frankenstein tries to make major scientific progress for the world by creating new life, but he ends up with his loved ones murdered by his creation and his life ruined. Shelley emphasizes how an excess of knowledge is also dangerous, and can potentially destroy humanity.

The character in Frankenstein: or the Modern Prometheus that is most harmed by knowledge is the main protagonist Victor Frankenstein. He attempts to surpass the accepted human limits of science and access the secret of life. This pursuit proves to be very dangerous and harmful, as his creation murders all of his loved ones, and results in Frankenstein's losing of all of his happiness. Shortly before Frankenstein's death, he had a conversation with Captain Walton, and says, "Unhappy man! Do you share my madness? Have you drank also of the intoxicating drought? Hear me – let me reveal my tale, and you will dash the cup from your lips!" (Shelley 13). From this quotation, it can be seen that Frankenstein believes that knowledge is something venomous, and that the sole reason that Frankenstein revealed his tragic tale to Walton was to dissuade his pursuit of knowledge.

Captain Robert Walton is another character that is negatively affected by knowledge. Like Frankenstein, Walton also attempts to surpass the accepted human limits by endeavoring to reach the North Pole. Although this pursuit of knowledge did not harm Walton as much as Frankenstein's pursuit did, it did put Walton in a...

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Literature Resource Center. Gale. West Chester East Lib. 26 Nov. 2007
Shelley, Mary. Frankenstein: or the Modern Prometheus with Connections. Austin,
Texas: Holt, Rinehart, and Winston, n.d.
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