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What foreshadows Victor's inclination towards science?Chapter II of Frankenstein by...

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pul2 | Student | eNoter

Posted April 5, 2012 at 1:49 PM via web

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What foreshadows Victor's inclination towards science?

Chapter II of Frankenstein by Mary Shelley

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mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 2) Distinguished Educator

Posted April 5, 2012 at 2:22 PM (Answer #1)

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In Chapter II, as provides Walton with his history, Victor Frankenstein describes himself in contrast to the "calmer and more concentrated disposition" of Elizabeth,

"...with all my ardour, I was capable of a more intense application, and was more deeply smitten with the thirst for knowledge."

While Elizabeth delights in the beauty and serenity of nature, Victor busies himself with the causes of life:

The world to me was a secret which I desire to divine. Curiosity, earnest research to learn the hidden laws of nature, gladness akin to rapture, as they were unfolded to me, are among the earliest sensation I can remember.

Clearly the intellect is of more importance to Victor than the things of the spirit.  Always he desires to know what makes things work, why things are as they exist--these questions enrapture and haunt him. Victor feels compelled to solve these questions.  He yearns to learn, and his eagerness is directed, he says, to the "metaphysical, or in its highest sense, the physical secrets of the world."  In short, Victor yearns to discover "the secrets of heaven and earth."

Further, it is the discovery of a volume of the works of Cornelius Agrippa which determines his avid interest towards science, especially after his father gives the volume only a cursory glance.  Once home, Victor procures all the works of Agrippa as well as of Paracelsus and Albertus Magnus; these works he devours with delight.  Later, most significantly, Victor observes the fire that lightning has generated after striking a beautiful oak tree. It is his reaction to this sight that indicates, not his romantic, but his scientific proclivities.  For, Victor studies the scientific phenomenon rather than bemoan the destruction of the lovely tree and feels the pull of destiny.

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