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What are the mechanics and the results of the exploration of "prohibited knowledge" in...

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salagadou | Student, Undergraduate | (Level 1) eNoter

Posted April 6, 2013 at 1:51 PM via web

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What are the mechanics and the results of the exploration of "prohibited knowledge" in works such as Frankenstein by Mary Shelley or The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson ?

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

Posted October 24, 2013 at 1:09 AM (Answer #1)

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Both Mary Shelley's Frankenstein and Robert Lewis Stevenson's The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde examine the idea of forbidden (or "prohibited") knowledge. In the case of Frankenstein, Victor's desire to reanimate life (or act as God) illustrates his possession of forbidden knowledge. In the case of Stevenson's text, Dr. Jekyll "disturbs the natural order of the universe because throughout his life he struggles to accept the dual nature of his identity" (eNotes-- The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde: "Themes"). He, then, also disturbs the natural order of things in regards to his inability to accept life as it is. Instead, he wishes to manipulate the internal nature of man to "insure" goodness. Unfortunately for him, his experimentation goes wildly awry. 

For Victor, the result of his experimentations, and success, leads to his demise. Likewise, Jekyll's own success leads him to his own demise. Both Victor and Jekyll come to find out that forbidden knowledge is forbidden for a reason. Fortunately for Victor, he is able to save another (Walton) from the making the same mistakes as he did. He warns Walton about ambitious nature and its tendency to lead one astray. 

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