Throughout the course of Frankenstein, the acquisition of knowledge is one of the most important themes in the novel. In this classic Romantic Novel, knowledge comes in many forms and is used in many ways. Knowledge can be credited with saving someone's life, or it can be the justification for ending another's. The quest for knowledge is just as jeopardous as the actual acquisition of it. People in general are always on the search for knowledge. It is human nature to want to find out what is unknown, and to want to do things that have never been done.
Seeing that Victor is human just like the rest of us he falls right into knowledge's trap. Frankenstein clearly illustrates that knowledge is nearly irresistible, and if used inappropriately, can be unparalleled in its destruction. Three examples of knowledge's attraction to humans, and non-humans (the Monster) are given in this novel. Victor Frankenstein is the first character whose tale is told about his encounter with knowledge. Frankenstein begins by telling his story back when he was a young child, for it was then that he began is give in to knowledge's invincible attraction. I entered with the greatest diligence into the search of the philosophers stone and the elixir of life (22), from this moment forth, Frankenstein knew what he wanted he did not stop until he received it.
The next character who is searching for knowledge is Walton. Walton is on his own question for answers, unlike Frankenstein who is searching for a way to banish disease from the human frame (22), he is trying to find a route to the North Pole. Walton is willing to sacrifice nearly anything to make it. He is determined to continue although he sees a monster and finds a nearly dead man. It is the nearly dead man's story that eventually helps him back down from his quest for knowledge. The monster is the last of the three on the search for enlightenment.
The monster's pursuit of knowledge is fa different from that of Frankenstein and Walton. The monster is trying to find answers, like Frankenstein and Walton, but he is trying to find different types of answers. And what was I Of my creation and creator I was absolutely ignorant (80), the monster wants to know where he came from, who he is, and why he is wherever he ended up. Each of the characters arrives at their knowledge in a different way, but they each have a strong drive to acquire it. In most cases, when you search for knowledge, you attain some type of it, whether it is what you were originally looking for or not is a different story.
The three characters in this novel each gained some type of knowledge. I doubted whether at first I should attempt the creation of a being like myself or one of similar organization; but my imagination was too much (31). With his newly attained knowledge, Frankenstein creates a person, more or less. It is blatantly obvious that this experiment is Frankenstein's downfall. His creation haunts him and consumes the rest of his life while they chase and follow each other until Frankenstein's eventual death. The monster causes Frankenstein to be chained in an eternal hell (147).
The monster learns about his existence and realizes that he has been wronged and not given a chance to succeed in life. He learns this from Frankenstein's jacket, which the monster has taken to wear. You minutely described in these papers every step you took in the progress of your work; this history was mingled with the accounts of domestic occurrences (87). Once he learns his past, the monster confronts Frankenstein and demands to have Frankenstein create him a companion monster of his own. Victor knowing how his first experiment went wrong, refuses using knowledge acquired before.
Walton, the last person to attain knowledge was looking for the North Pole, what he received was better; he learned from Frankenstein how dangerous knowledge can be. Learn from me, if not by my precepts, at least by my example, how dangerous is the acquirement of knowledge, and how much happier that man is who believes his native town to be the world (31). Once hearing Frankenstein's story, Walton returns home, and ends his quest to the North Pole. Of the three characters, Walton is the only one who uses the knowledge towards a worthy cause. As Walton learned, knowledge can be a lifesaver, but it is like a double-edged sword it can also be fatal. Frankenstein is a perfect example of how dangerous knowledge can be.
He attains the ultimate knowledge, missuses it and it cost him everything he has done, everything he has worked to achieve, his friends, and his family. When I had reflected on the work I had completed I could not rank myself with the herd of common projectors. But this feeling now serves only to plunge me lower (147). Once all is done, and Frankenstein has lost everything, he then tells his story to Walton, by doing so, Walton receives more knowledge then he ever imagined, but he receives something else with it, the wisdom on how to use it. The monster gains knowledge from not only Frankenstein's journal, but he also learns about the human race, the way they act and the way they treat people. After time he learns the inevitable truth, what a strange nature is knowledge!
It clings to the mind, when it has once seized on it, like a lichen on a rock (81). The monster learns the same thing that Frankenstein tells Walton, that knowledge is dangerous, only the monster learns this on his own. In the end, they each learn that knowledge is dangerous, but they don t all learn it in time to save themselves. Frankenstein is the cause of all of the problems in this novel, coincidentally or not; he is also the one who suffers the most from his actions, which are results of his desire for knowledge.
The monster and Walton each also have their own separate quest for knowledge, but it is Frankenstein who either caused and / or ended their quest. They each learn how dangerous knowledge is, unlike Frankenstein who until he is on his deathbed is asking Walton to continue his quest. It is because Walton realized the dangers of knowledge that he survived, and Frankenstein did not.