Education And Knowledge In Mary Shelley's Frankenstein

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In Mary Shelley’s novel, Frankenstein (1818), Shelley shows her audience that while acquiring knowledge leads to survival for the Creature and power for Victor Frankenstein, the path to obtain this knowledge leads to the destruction of one’s self. Education and knowledge have major negative effects on both of the characters’ attitude, perception, and decisions. The life experiences of each character is dependent on the amount of knowledge that the character possesses. Knowledge gives Victor Frankenstein a superiority complex, and it changes the Creature’s perspective of the world and the people in it. The Creature, like a baby, is brought into the world with no prior knowledge of how society behaves. Over time, the Creature’s perspective changes…show more content…
In “Education as a Pharmakon in Mary Shelley's Frankenstein,” Shun-Liang Choa argues that when the Creature learns how to use fire and learns the human language, he is experiencing “a pharmakon, the me ́lange of both remedy and poison, pleasure and pain” 223). The Creature learns that fire can be used to cook food for pleasure, but also causes pain when used to for destruction. In the same sense, the Creature’s mastery of the human language allows him to gain more knowledge about the world and humans, but “the more knowledge he is able to gain, and the sharper his awareness of his deformity and his friendless life” (224). Both are examples of “a mixture of pain and pleasure”: a hindrance and a benefit (224). Choa’s article expresses Shelley’s incorporation of knowledge leading to destruction in Frankenstein. In Shelley’s novel, the Creature exclaims that “sorrow only increase[s] with knowledge” (96). The Creature initially receives benefits of survival in the human world from his acquisition of knowledge, but he ultimately only causes himself pain. The Creature’s idea of befriending a human is crushed after learning that he is hated by the human race for his differences. The knowledge of humans’ hatred of the Creature causes the Creature’s sorrow, which is further developed into self-hatred. Similarly, fire allows for the pleasure of warmth and cooked food, but it also provides the
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