In what ways does the novel present knowledge as dangerous and destructive?
The inhumane pursuit of knowledge shows that it is dangerous, through Victor’s acts of his creation, which in the end results in destruction of his loved ones. Shelley presents knowledge as being destructive and dangerous in many ways, through the actions of Victor’s father, the gothic scene where the creature was created, and how the search for knowledge differs in other characters.
The creation of the monster shows Victor’s self centred nature. Frankenstein praises his accomplishments by claiming that even though ‘so much has been done...more, far more, will I achieve’. This big ego only causes Victors blindness to the morality of life. Incapable of finding evenness between his id and superego, he seems to have ‘lost all soul or sensation but for this one pursuit’ of knowledge. This enlarged ego makes him fall far down into his ‘thirst for knowledge’. However Clerval is presented as ‘perfectly humane’, his pursuit of knowledge is for the good of him and everyone else, unlike victor, Clerval had a ‘sense of morality’. As Freud would say the iD would be represented by Victor, and the ego/superego would be represented by Clerval. Shelley doesn’t infer that all knowledge is bad; this could imply that Victor’s search of forbidden knowledge should be kept a secret. The ‘secrets of heaven and earth’ is the source of death and grief in the novel.
George Levine states that evil resides in Frankenstein’s failure to take responsibility for what he has created, and the absence of a father figure to the creature. This lack of fatherhood is also shown in both Victor and Clerval’s father’s objection to learning. However Victor’s father had a different approach, he stated that the science used in victor’s books had been disapproved long ago and that they were ‘sad trash’. Freudian analysts claim that all sons feel they are in competition with their father and often feel in a battle against the...