Everyone goes through life with the hopes of acquiring new knowledge and being smarter today than they were yesterday; it is part of human nature to want to become better as a person. This was the case in the novel of Frankincense by Mary Shelley. The characters within this novel each have different situations to which their quest for knowledge leads them to different points in their life.
With knowledge comes power and with power comes consequences, these characters each have to deal with the consequences of their actions, which in some cases are good and some re not so good. Pride becomes an ultimate factor for one of these characters and is the make or break point of their decision making. With having the knowledge of how something comes to be about, gives someone the ability to experiment with other factors of life to try and perform other experiments in attempts to observe if there can also be other factors that can be derived from the subject.
By having experiments being performed successfully, one might become overly confident in their field of work and continue to take their experiments further than they once ere and ultimately create or derive something that neither the creator nor the world is ready for and unable to handle or take attention to with the correct intentions. A component of knowledge is curiosity, in which enables one to search and explore parts of a field that has yet to be attempted by anyone before them. Such curiosity can guide one to unknown places that humans should not be and can potentially be dangerous and put lives at stake.
Having a curious mind can also cause internal conflict within oneself, which could lead to a successful outcome if the right path is oaken or can be ones demise if the wrong path is chosen. We first came in contact with Robert Walton, who said “… My curiosity with the sight of a part of the world never before visited, … Land never before imprinted by the foot of man (Shelley 1), gives the reader insight that Walton has a quest to explore parts of the world man has never dreamed of going, yet alone set foot upon. His quest for knowledge drives him to embark on this Journey towards the discovery of new lands.
Along this quest for new land, Walton comes into contact with our main character Victor Frankincense, ho was also well into a quest of his own. Frankincense sees many similarities between him and Walton and decides to give him some hands on advice about what knowledge does to a person and how the affects have an effect on the mind set of one. Upon entering his boat, Walton discloses information about his Journey and the reasoning behind it, which prompts Victor to enlighten Walton about his own knowledgeable quest, “but you are mistaken my friend… If thus you will allow me to name you… Listen to my history… Owe irrevocably it is determined” (Shelley 21). Victor deices similarities between the two of them and wishes to prevent him from making the same mistakes that he once did. Walton becomes stuck between the decision making of continuing his dream of exploration which can lead to new discoveries and findings for mankind or putting an end to his Journey in fear that he will have the same fate as his newly found companion Frankincense. Walton longs for the new discovery of land but is unsure of how or even if he should take in consideration the stop in fear that he too will encounter the same problems.
Victor Frankincense’s guest for knowledge occurred as he witnessed a lightning bolt strike and disintegrate a tree, because of this incident; he made it his mission to learn how the bolt completely destroyed the tree, which prompted him to go into the field of science. Upon accomplishing his task, Frankincense assembled a “monster” from dead matter that “… Breathed hard, and a convulsive motion agitated its limbs. ” (Shelley 42). Little did Victor know that his creation would soon be the cause of destruction throughout his life, “l took refuge in the courtyard belonging to the house in which I inhabited… The demoniacal corpse to which I had so miserably given life” (Shelley 50). Victor’s quest for knowledge leads him down a tortuous path of insanity. The appearance of Victor’s “monster” was displeasing to him and he decided that it was in his best interest to disown his creation. This was step one of Victors demise. Victor Frankincense failed to take into consideration the fact that this form of matter that he created would even remotely resemble the emotions of humans. The “monster”, his creation, set his sights out on figuring out why his creator decided to abandon him.
This again ties in the theme of acquiring knowledge. He began studying the actions and language outside a cottage of a nearby family, which enabled him to understand why humans shrieked at his appearance and ultimately why his creator disowned him,”accursed creator! Why did you form a monster so hideous that even YOU turned from me in disgust? ” (Shelley 119). With his understanding, the “monster” became enraged “l know not; despair had not yet taken possession of me; my feelings were those of rage and revenge” (Shelley 120) In that moment the “monster” decided that he was going o take his anger out on his creator.
Traveling near and far, the monster set out on a killing spree, which included the family members of Victor, his creator. Once the “monster” gained knowledge on how to read, he came across the book called Paradise Lost, that in which he interpreted that he has the right to have a companion. Victor’s creation then set out to find his creator in hopes that he would invent a female companion for him. “l ought to be thy Adam, but I am rather the fallen angel” (Shelley 128). Mimi must create a female for me… And I demand it of you as a eight you must not refuse to concede. (Shelley 134) the “monster” was agitated that he was created alone and without a partner to confide in as the characters did in the book. Victor then realized that the monster was very knowledgeable and persistent about what he wants. With the “monsters” capability to think for himself, he blackmails his creator into creating another companion for him, “l will be with you on your wedding night” (Shelley 156). With this threat at hand, Victor decides that he will make a companion for his “monster” in hopes that he will keep his end of the deal.
After months of trying to assemble new female “monster”, Victor realizes that he needs more information and travels to numerous places for inspiration. During this trip is where Victor comes to terms with himself and begins to think of the pros and cons of creating a new female “monster”, with those thoughts in mind, Victor gathered the belongings of the unfinished monster and dumped the parts into sea. “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… Shelley 186). Victor’s last wishes were that if you take nothing from take in the fact that his quest whether or not Walton wants to end life him. Knowledge is very powerful; it can give one the upper hand in vital situations along with letting mankind discover new opportunities that will be beneficial to one another. Knowledge can also become the destruction of one as seen in Frankincense, whatever road is chosen, Just remember, knowledge is powerful yet dangerous. Work Cited Shelley, Mary. Frankincense: The Modern Prometheus. 1818. Junk file.