Dangerous Knowledge In Mary Shelley's Frankenstein

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Albert Einstein once said, “A little knowledge is a dangerous thing. So is a lot.” Einstein believes that there is a point where the acquisition of knowledge becomes dangerous for humans. Mary Shelley extensively explores the effect dangerous knowledge has on the characters in her book Frankenstein. Throughout the book, Frankenstein and the creature are corrupted by knowledge that changes their outlooks on life. In both cases, the information that corrupts the characters was not meant for them to be discovered. When Frankenstein is discovered in the Arctic by a sailor named Walton, he is taken on board of Walton’s boat. Frankenstein then tells Walton about his quest for information, and it changes Walton’s perspective on the pursuit of…show more content…
Mary Shelley uses Victor Frankenstein’s and the creature’s pursuit of dangerous knowledge in Frankenstein to question the boundaries of human enlightenment.
During Mary Shelley’s life in the early 1800s, galvanism was a popular area of study among some prominent scientists. Galvanism is when a muscle is contracted by the application of electricity (Rauch 1). However, during Mary Shelley’s lifetime galvanism was seen as a possible method to restore life to recently deceased humans (Rauch 1). Mary Shelley was inspired to write Frankenstein after a night of storytelling with Lord Byron and Mary Godwin. Although Frankenstein may seem like an innocent horror story, it is actually an embodiment of Mary Shelley’s thoughts and beliefs. Mary Shelley has gone on record as not being opposed to a slow emancipation of slaves. The Foreign Minister of Britain compared Mary Shelley’s
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Victor Frankenstein is originally a happy character that loves to learn and read a large variety of books. He was a fiery individual who sought to understand all knowledge; regardless of how practical the information was. Evidence of this is when his father tells him not to worry about fictional writers like Cornelius Agrippa. Yet, Frankenstein states, “But here were books, and here were men who had penetrated deeper and knew more. I took their word for all that they averred, and I became their disciple” (21). Frankenstein embodies the movement in science to understand everything, and that is not necessarily a good thing (Storment 2). Frankenstein only understands that this train of thought is bad when he reaches the pinnacle of knowledge and produces the creature. The fruits of Frankenstein’s labor end up costing him the lives of his friends and family, as well as his own sanity. The feeling of guilt thrives in Frankenstein because he knows his work was the direct cause of the chaos in his life. In Frankenstein’s case, his goal of total enlightenment led to his pitiful demise. Frankenstein’s creature was not originally a monster. He is born with good intentions and is a gentle- although atrocious looking- being until he learns of the sins of the human race. The ultimate factor in the creature’s progression from harmless to
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