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What does Victor mean when he says....?"Learn from me, if not by my precepts, at least...

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shkr27 | Student, Grade 11 | Honors

Posted November 15, 2011 at 8:29 AM via web

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What does Victor mean when he says....?

"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." In chapter 4 of Frankenstein?

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literaturenerd | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

Posted November 15, 2011 at 8:57 AM (Answer #1)

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Victor Frankenstein certainly shows that he is a smart man when he states the following in Chapter Four of Mary Shelley's novel Frankenstein:

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.

What Victor is saying here is that it he hopes that people use his mistakes as an example. Victor knows that knowledge can be dangerous at times. By this, he refers to the fact that sometimes "ignorance is bliss" based upon the fact that, sometimes, knowledge does more harm than good.

In the second part of the quote, Victor is admitting that people who look too far beyond their own capabilities are wrong. For Victor, the reference to a person's native town shows that a person should recognize and accept their own limitations. By looking at the entirety of the world as one's background, one can end up causing more, again, harm than good.

In short, people should be happy with what they have. Outside of that, the quest becomes too burdensome, too demanding, and too dangerous. Victor, in the quote, is simply giving out some amazing advice--know your limitations and abide by them.

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