I posted this few days ago
Frankenstein points the Faustian moral to Walton: "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, than he who aspires to become greater than his nature will allow" (p. 53). But this moral— particularly appropriate to the realistic novel— is argued very ambivalently. Even the monster repeats the argument (as he must, being Frankenstein's alter ego): "Increase of knowledge only discovered to me more clearly what a wretched outcast I was" (p. 131). As his knowledge grows, he cries out: "Oh, that I had for ever remained in my native wood, nor known nor felt beyond the sensation of hunger, thirst, and heat!" (p. 120). Yet Mary Shelley knows, as the monster learned, that there is no returning to innocence; the rhetoric implies that the innocence is a lie, and that the disaster that follows its loss is as inevitable as the loss itself. "Of what a strange nature is knowledge! It clings to the mind, when it has once seized on it, like a lichen on the rock. I wished sometimes to shake off all thought and feeling; but I learned that there was but one means to overcome the sensation of pain, and that was death" (p. 120). The monster knows that only silence ends the disparity between word and life. Frankenstein, however, cannot give up the quest or insist unambiguously on the moral of his story. His last speech is a masterpiece of doubt: "Farewell, Walton!" he says. "Seek happiness in tranquillity, and avoid ambition, even if it be only the apparently innocent one of distinguishing yourself in science and discoveries. Yet why do I say this? I have myself been blasted in these hopes, yet another may succeed" (pp. 217-18). Death is the only resolution, and yet it resolves nothing since knowledge and innocence are continuing aspects of human experience. The tension worked out in Frankenstein between ambition and natural harmony, as between creator and creature, mind and reality, is not resolved.
The 'Modern Prometheus' says it all.-Windebieste.
Walter is a bit lame, I hope David kills him.
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