Preview
Preview

The Paradox of Discovery in Mary Shelley's Frankenstein Essay

:: 4 Works Cited
Length: 1390 words (4 double-spaced pages)
Rating: Blue      
Open Document
Need writing help? Check your paper »



- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

The Paradox of Discovery in Frankenstein

 
   In Mary Shelley's Frankenstein, the concept of "discovery" is paradoxical: initial discovery is joyful and innocent, but ends in misery and corruption. The ambitions of both Walton and Frankenstein (to explore new lands and to cast scientific light on the unknown, respectively) are formed with the noblest of intentions but a fatal disregard for the sanctity of natural boundaries. Though the idea of discovery remains idealized, human fallibility utterly corrupts all pursuit of that ideal. The corruption of discovery parallels the corruption inherent in every human life, in that a child begins as a pure and faultless creature, full of wonder, but hardens into a self-absorbed, grasping, overly ambitious adult. Only by novel's end does Walton recognize that he must abandon his own ambition (the mapping of previously uncharted land), out of concern for the precious lives of his crew.

 

The first two occurrences of the word "discovery" occur quite early in the novel, in Walton's first letter to his sister. He compares his feelings on the expedition to a child's joy (14). Walton reminds her of his uncle's large library of "discovery" literature (tales of seamen and adventurers), all of which he devoured as a child. He writes of his disappointment when his father forbade him, on his deathbed, to "embark in a seafaring life" (14). Walton later tells Frankenstein that his crew is on a "voyage of discovery"; it only at the mention of this word that Frankenstein agrees to board the ship (24).

 

Once on board, Frankenstein recounts his history. Frankenstein, too, was possessed by a youthful fixation: the desire to acquire scientific knowledge, and to create an indestructible...


... middle of paper ...


...ich may be described as a desperate addiction to discovery  is a fine concept but a dangerous practice. Man's natural flaws debase any professed altruistic goal; all attempts at discovery are ultimately revealed to be corrupt, selfish, and misbegotten.

 

Works Cited and Consulted:

Brooks, Peter. "'Godlike Science/ Unhallowed Arts': Language, Nature,and Monstrosity". The Endurance of Frankenstein. Ed. George Levine. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1979.

Shelley, Mary. Frankenstein. Ed. Candace Ward. New York, Dover, 1994.

Spark, Muriel. Mary Shelley. New York: E.P. Dutton, 1987.

Stevenson, Leslie. The Study of Human Nature: A Reader. New York: Oxford University Press, 2000.

Walling, William A. Mary Shelley. New York: Twayne, 1972.

Wolff, Robert P. About Philosophy. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall, 1998.

 

 


Click the button above to view the complete essay, speech, term paper, or research paper

Need Writing Help?

Get feedback on grammar, clarity, concision and logic instantly.

Check your paper »







This essay is 100% guaranteed.


Title Length Color Rating  
Essay on Sympathy in Mary Shelley's Frankenstein - Sympathy in Mary Shelley's Frankenstein Mary Shelley was born in 1797. She had a difficult life with many family upsets’, miscarriages and suffered personal depression; she died aged 53. Mary Shelley wrote Frankenstein firstly as a short ghost story but it was published as a novel in 1816. Frankenstein is a Gothic novel and it deals with two genres, Gothicism and science fiction. Gothicism is part of the Romantic Movement that started in the late eighteenth century. The Romantic Movement is based on freedom of thought and expression and the belief of living in an age of new beginnings and high possibilities....   [tags: Mary Shelley Frankenstein Essays] 3360 words
(9.6 pages)
Powerful Essays [preview]
Exploring Deep Issues Through the Gothic Genre in Mary Shelley's Chapter 5 of Frankenstein - Exploring Deep Issues Through the Gothic Genre in Mary Shelley's Chapter 5 of Frankenstein Introduction: Mary Shelly inquires into many issues using the Gothic genre. Shelly explores the theme of religion according to the society that she had lived in. Shelly also explores loneliness through Victor Frankenstein and the creation of Victor, the monster. Mary explores the taboo issues of Victorian society through her novel and looks deeply into the idea of 'playing God' using Victor; she investigates through her novel human anatomy and science which were great discoveries and issues in the Victorian era....   [tags: Frankenstein, Mary Shelley] 1390 words
(4 pages)
Powerful Essays [preview]
The Developments and Changes the Monster Undergoes in Frankenstein by Mary Shelley - The Developments and Changes the Monster Undergoes in Frankenstein by Mary Shelley Frankenstein is a classic novel by Mary Shelley, published in 1818. It recounts the life of Victor Frankenstein; Victor is a young, idealistic student of natural philosophy whose aim is to discover the elixir of life. He succeeds in his aim and consequently brings into existence a monstrous creation. However, he abandons his creation, which is then forced to discover the complicated ways in which society and the world works, in a very cruel but candid and unequivocal manner....   [tags: Mary Shelley Frankenstein Essays] 7579 words
(21.7 pages)
Powerful Essays [preview]
Walton’s Letters in Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein Essay - Walton’s Letters in Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein ‘Frankenstein’ is a gothic, science fiction novel written by Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley. It was written in Switzerland in 1816 and London in 1816-1817. The novel begins with a series of letters from the explorer Robert Walton to his sister, Margaret Saville. The entirety of ‘Frankenstein’ is contained within Robert Walton’s letters, which record the narratives of both Frankenstein and the monster. Walton’s letters act like a framing device for Victor’s narrative....   [tags: Mary Shelley Frankenstein Essays] 819 words
(2.3 pages)
Good Essays [preview]
The Story of Frankenstein by Mary Shelley Essay - The story of Frankenstein is a warning to the discovery of science. Mary Shelley was interested in science and she did lots of researches in the 19 the century to create this novel “Frankenstein”. Shelley shows the reader, how the desire to learn and utilize knowledge and technology to help mankind and if not utilized carefully can harm and destroy mankind. In Frankenstein, Shelley relays the role of science through Victor, an isolated scientist. “Her vision of the isolated scientist discovering the secrets of life is no mere fantasy but a plausible prediction of what science might accomplish.” (Mellor,1988:89)....   [tags: Dangers of Science] 1901 words
(5.4 pages)
Strong Essays [preview]
Accepting the Extraordinary in Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein Essay - My life, although not without surprises and unusual events, is dictated by predictable and ordinary elements. However, through fiction I am transported into a world of boundless imagination and extraordinary themes. One such example is evident in my response to Mary Shelley’s gothic novel Frankenstein. Through fiction, Shelley invites the reader to accept the extraordinary. Firstly, we are led to believe that Victor Frankenstein is able to create life by shocking it with electricity, and to this I responded with an imaginative curiosity....   [tags: Mary Shelley] 1603 words
(4.6 pages)
Powerful Essays [preview]
Isolation in Mary Shelley's Frankenstein Essay - Isolation in Mary Shelley's Frankenstein Mary Shelley's novel, Frankenstein, has several themes imbedded in the text. One major theme is of isolation. Many of the characters experience some time of isolation. The decisions and actions of some of these characters are the root cause of their isolation. They make choices that isolate themselves from everyone else. However, other characters are forced into isolation for reasons that are not in their control. The actions of another cause them to experience loneliness....   [tags: English Literature Mary Shelley Essays Papers]
:: 3 Works Cited
1383 words
(4 pages)
Powerful Essays [preview]
Essay about Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein - Frankenstein, by Mary Shelley, to this day is one of the most important and largest books in the genre that is Romanticism. Romanticism itself, is made up of multiple elements such as these; Supernatural, emotion, imagination, nature, social progression, endless potential, and spiritual growth. Throughout the whole story of Frankenstein, Mary Shelley implements most, if not all, of the elements of romanticism, whether the elements are portrayed by the monster or by Victor Frankenstein himself....   [tags: Frankenstein Essays]
:: 6 Works Cited
1467 words
(4.2 pages)
Powerful Essays [preview]
Mary Shelley's Frankenstein Essay examples - Mary Shelley's Frankenstein Mary Shelley’s, Frankenstein, was written during a period of dramatic revolution. The failed French Revolution and Industrial Revolution seriously mark the novel with hints of moral and scientific revolution. Through Frankenstein, Shelley sends out a clear message that morally irresponsible scientific development can unleash a monster that can destroy its creator. Upon beginning the creation process, Victor Frankenstein uses the scientific advances of others to infiltrate the role of nature....   [tags: Shelley Frankenstein Essays] 521 words
(1.5 pages)
Good Essays [preview]
Self-discovery, Destruction, and Preservation in Frankenstein Essay - Self-discovery, Destruction, and Preservation in Frankenstein       Mary Shelley's Frankenstein explores the downfall of certain human characteristics, set to the backdrop of creation, destruction, and preservation. The subtitle denoted by Shelly herself supports this idea, by relating the fact that the title can be viewed as either Frankenstein or The Modern Prometheus. One scholar, Marilyn Butler, also maintains this by noting, "It can be a late version of the Faust Myth"(302). Shelly uses the story of the main character, Victor Frankenstein, to produce the concept of a dooming human characteristic of which Frankenstein states, "I have ....   [tags: Frankenstein essays]
:: 6 Works Cited
1647 words
(4.7 pages)
Powerful Essays [preview]