In Mary Shelley’s novel Frankenstein we see how knowledge can be dangerous and the monstrosities it can create. Underlying to this theme we learn the importance of friendship, love, and companionship and what happens in its absence. We can see how valuable these needs are in our human nature and strive to achieve them in our lives. It is through three main characters that these ideas are explored. Victor Frankenstein, Robert Walton, and Victor’s creation are all on a quest for the same thing but have very different outcomes.
Victor Frankenstein was introduced as a young Swiss boy from Geneva who came from a very loving and close family. In the beginning of the novel even as a young boy you see Victor’s strong desire for knowledge. Young Victor has a deep interest for science that only increases when he goes to the University. It is here that Victor’s newly found knowledge and obsession sends his life and the life of others down a spiraling road of destruction. Victor is bound and determined to learn the secret of life. In this pursuit Victor is obsessed and isolates himself from everything and everyone. He stops communicating with the outside world leaving love and companionship behind as he delves deeper into his secret life. ” I had worked hard for nearly two years, for the sole purpose of infusing life into an inanimate body. For this I had deprived myself of rest and health. I had desired it with an ardour that far exceeded moderation; but now that I had finished, the beauty of the dream vanished, and breathless horror and disgust filled my heart.” (Shelley 1818) During the two years Victor worked in secrecy and hide under the darkness of the night. He abandoned his friends and family and gave up love and companionship in order to succeed in his creation of this monster. His love for science turned it into an ugly obsession. Following his creation of this creature Victor grew to despise the subject of science he wanted nothing to do with his tools that had created such a creature. Not only did Victor create a monster he himself became in a sense a monster. As Victor leaves the monster to fend for himself he keeps his creation a secret. Instead of being proud and boasting about his successes he wanted nothing more to do with the creature or the science behind the creation. He was deeply ashamed of his accomplishment and wanted nothing to do with this creature he had brought to life.
Dr Frankenstein’s creation was brought to life and then immediately abandoned. This hideous creature was unnaturally tall and made up of mismatched body parts. The creature longed to be accepted and find companionship throughout the novel. He had not learned about love, friendship, or companionship from his creator but longed for these things. He lived in darkness and in the shadows of society, watching and learning everything he could from the people he observed in hiding. The monster used his knowledge to help the people he had wished to befriend. He meticulously planned his encounter with the people he had longed to become friends with and watched and waited for the right time to introduce himself to these strangers. The monster made several attempts to be accepted but was always shunned and attacked by those he wanted to befriend. No one could look past his appearance and just accept him for the gently creature he was. It saddened me to see how he was treated and made to feel like a monster. It was only after being isolated and denied friendship and companionship did the monster become evil. For every act of evil that the monster took part in, it was always followed by a deep remorse. The last straw came when Victor denied the monster of any hope of having companionship. Thus by destroying the female companion he had started to create for the monster. At this turning point the monster became evil killing those closest to Victor. The monster did not commit these acts out of hatred but more as revenge toward his creator. He wanted Dr Frankenstein to live and feel the misery he was living in. It is questionable throughout the novel who is the real monster, Victor or the creature.
The other main character in the novel is Robert Walton. He is first introduced in the very beginning of the novel as he writes letters to his sister telling her of his adventures as he is sailing to find the North Pole. Roberts quest for knowledge and to explore the unknown leaves him and his crew in a dangerous situation. When their ship becomes stuck in sheets of ice Robert and his crew begin to question if they will live or ever see land again. It is during this time that Robert writes to his sister that he wishes and longs for a real friend and companion. As their ship is stuck in the ice they find Victor in his weakened state. Robert finds a companion and thinks of Victor as a friend. As he nurtures Victor back to better health he hears Victors story of his creation and now the destruction it has caused him in his life. Robert soon decides as he hears Victor’s story that he does not wish to continue his voyage. Victors dying wish is for Robert to kill this monster that he had created. When Robert comes face to face with the creature he is unable to take its life. He can see the monster as a human and not a creature. Although he is saddened by the death of his friend he is unable to carry out his wishes.
Knowledge can be a positive and powerful thing but in the wrong hands or misused it is very dangerous. As you can see in this novel Victor’s knowledge leads to the destruction of all that he loves and in the end himself. Victor had placed such importance on creating his creature that he abandoned his loved ones. He hid his creation from them and did not protect them from his creation. Dr Frankenstein was often in states of madness each time tragedy struck his life. Without love, friendship, and companionship life becomes very lonely. An existence without these things is meaningless.