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Knowledge is not Wisdom

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Knowledge is not Wisdom essay

You can never have too much knowledge. People often like to argue this against the cliché claim that “too much of any good thing is bad for you”. However, with knowledge, comes the importance of a relatively equal amount of wisdom. Mary Shelley demonstrates this idea through Victor Frankenstein and the unstable Monster that he creates. Victor’s lack of responsibility for his creation is reflected physically through the Monster’s appearance, which leads to the Monster’s separation from society. The exposure of Victor’s lacking of wisdom and responsibility deteriorates his sanity and he perishes in efforts to make up for his neglecting of the Monster.

As Victor created the Monster, he did not take into account what would happen after he successfully brings the Monster’s body to life. The Monster would become a part of society, and would have feelings and perceptions like all complex creatures in this world. Physical appearance is a strong source of judgment in this world, and Victor’s failure to fully recognize this in the creation process causes him to create a being that is eight feet tall, and has horrendous features including black lips and shriveled skin. The self-induced pressure that Victor felt to make the Monster is shown in the following quote from Frankenstein at the time of the Monster’s creation: “I had worked for nearly two years, for the sole purpose of infusing life into an inanimate body. For this I had deprived myself of rest and health. I had desired it with an ardour that far exceeded moderation; but now that I had finished, the beauty of the dream vanished, and breathless horror and disgust filled my heart” (Shelley 35). His anxiety and obsession to simply create a life resulted in a creature with physical flaws. Had Victor been more wise, patient, and open minded towards creating a being, the Monster may have looked much more fitted with human society than it was.

The Monster is born as an innocent, curious being as any baby would be. As Victor turns his back to him the Monster develops his first feelings of loneliness and neglect. As he matures he comes to a sturdy conclusion of society: “I learned that the possessions most esteemed by your fellow creatures were, high and unsullied descent united with riches. A man might be respected with only one of these advantages; but without either he was considered, except in very rare instances, as a vagabond and a slave, doomed to waste his powers for the profits of the chosen few” (Shelley, 85)! The Monster asserted his attained perception that fame and money is what determines the quality of a man, and without either a man is essentially worthless with the exception of using his humane skills to strengthen those above him. Him being a different creature and of different nature, the Monster is able to look at society as a whole and infer from observations as he does not feel a part of it. This also gives him a strong sense of loneliness, which is expressed through the thoughts that continue: “I was, besides, endued with a figure hideously deformed and loathsome; I was not even of the same nature as man. I was more agile than they and could subsist upon coarser diet; I bore the extremes of heat and cold with less injury to my frame, my stature far exceeded theirs” (Shelley 85). The Monster’s lonely feelings deepen when his observations of society affirm his contrast in nature from it, and with no supporting relations from even his own creator he feels that he has no place in the world that he was brought into. These feelings catalyze his anger towards his creator, who was the first to reject him.

Before Victor’s first mental blueprints to construct a human-like being, he was a generally a happy person. “No human being could have passed a happier childhood than myself. My parents were possessed by the very spirit of kindness and indulgence…When I mingled with other families, I distinctly discerned how peculiarly fortunate my lot was, and gratitude assisted the development of filial love” (Shelley 19). Victor was a very grateful child and the only desires he had were playfully curious. However, as he grew this playful curiosity grew into obsession of pursuits and anxiety to fulfill them. Victor’s downfall begins as soon as the Monster is created. Once the life is instilled into the creature, there is no turning back, which is literally what Victor attempts to do, expressing discontent with what he manufactured. The death of his family members induces guilt in him. His purpose in life is no longer to gain the highest scientific knowledge, but to do anything to get rid of the Monster. His lack of sufficient wisdom is the main cause of this. Even in desperation, which had Victor nearly establishing a female companion for the Monster, he has such a strong fear of consequences that could arise from a second creation, that he refuses the Monster’s demands. This results in Elizabeth’s death and Victor’s desperation to kill the Monster takes a stronger hold of his life. In the end, Victor’s sanity and life perish as a result of Victor’s “abuse of knowledge”.

Victor’s relative carelessness in creating the Monster, fueled by his obsessive desire to attain the highest knowledge, is reflected through the Monster and ultimately causes his own death. Though the Monster had superiority to humans in physique, he was not satisfied, as he had nobody to appreciate his existence. Separated from society, he was able to conclude the common workings of society, which he found were very contrasting to his own innocent perception. The Monster vowed to make Victor’s life a living Hell, one which revolved around the Monster and his potential from the second it received life. Shelley conveyed through her story that ignorance can often be bliss. A drive for knowledge without the necessary wisdom to curb it will result in consequences that one usually would not have the amount of responsibility to accept. In real life, consequences come with uncontrolled use of knowledge, as they did for Victor through the Monster.

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