In Mary Shelley’s novel, Frankenstein, Robert Walton, Victor Frankenstein, and Frankenstein’s Creation reach similar conclusions humanity by seafaring to the North Pole, delving into the dark depths of science, and observing the rejecting nature of humans. The three tragic heroes Walton, Frankenstein and the Creation are all character doubles in their initial enthusiasm for knowledge, inner dualist personalities, religiously glorified personal goals, possessive relationships and negative effects of gaining knowledge. The three character’s views of humanity are a microcosm of the culturally accepted importance of beauty, and how the culmination of knowledge can be blinding and lead to utter ruination.
Robert Walton explores the North Pole to seek glory and to do something no man has done before. Walton’s “intellectual eye” aims too high, driving him to pursue one goal that “elevates” him to “heaven” (Shelley 29). Walton views the North Pole as the “eternal light”, alluding that his voyage to the new land is holy and majestic (Shelley 29). He is a romantic, similar to Victor Frankenstein, in that he is blinded by the idyllic view of the exploration, puts the voyagers at the mercy of frigid temperatures and does not see it as the death trap that it really is. His quest is much like the Creation’s fruitless attempt to become friends of the De Lacy family, and each glorified pursuit leads to each character’s failure. Each character maintains the image of the tragic hero in that they are trying to find glory and become something more than they really are, but their thirst for success and blind eye to the reality of what they are actually doing in effect causes their ruination.
Frankenstein is blinded by knowledge and continues to ...
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...e. The ardent pursuit of knowledge, companionship, internal dual personalities, supernatural glory in one’s work, outward superficiality and the thirst for success are all intrinsic qualities in the characters Frankenstein, Walton, and the Creation. Mary Shelley utilizes and parallels these personality traits in the characters to reflect on her view of how superficial mankind is, how knowledge can make mankind worse and how holding beauty above good acts brings down the quality of life of humans. Also Shelley reveals that friendship and acceptance by others is essential to happiness in life, and without it, self-ruination can occur. Shelley uses her novel as a warning to readers to not blindly pursue knowledge, and not set goals to a ‘higher’ standard.
Shelley, Mary. “Frankenstein.” Ed. Johanna M. Smith. Boston, Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2007
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