In Frankenstein by Mary W Shelley, why does Victor not want to study the contemporary scientist suggested by M. Krempe?

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M.P. Ossa | College Teacher | (Level 1) Distinguished Educator

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In Volume I, Chapter 3 of the novel Frankenstein we meet the character of M. Krempe. He is described by Victor as a

little squat man, with a gruff voice and a repulsive countenance.

As a professor of Natural Philosophy, M. Krempe has a huge admiration for things that are logically explained. When he asks Victor about his progress in the diversity of branches of Science, Victor confesses that he has been spending a lot of time reading books about alchemy and other hidden sciences.

M. Krempe is arrogant, uncouth, and basically insults Victor by denigrating Victor's choice of study and he gives Victor a number of treaties that he should read which, in his opinion, can actually make Victor smarter.

However, Victor denies it because, in his own words:

As a child, I had not been content with the results promised by the modern professors of natural science. With a confusion of ideas only to be accounted for by my extreme youth, and my want of a guide on such matters, I had retrod the steps of knowledge along the paths of time, and exchanged the discoveries of recent inquirers for the dreams of forgotten alchemists. Besides, I had a contempt for the uses of modern natural philosophy. It was very different when the masters of the science sought immortality and power; such views, although futile, were grand: but now the scene was changed.

Basically what Victor is saying is that he prefers to mix things that are real with things that are deemed fantastic because this is the same method of study that the ancient greats would do: Astrology, for example, is one of such studies that mixes the natural with the supernatural. That is what Victor preferred to do.

We should question, however, if Victor's ambitious nature is not already leading him to believe that he is above everyone when it comes to intelligence. In this chapter we already can see that Victor does not use words lightly. He actually intends to search in the realms of immortality and the creation of man. He is therefore already smitten by the possibility of creating the impossible. Therefore, Victor refuses due to his own arrogance, his ambition, and his idea that he can do something really extraordinary.


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