In Frankenstein, Victor attributes his tragic fate to his relentless search for knowledge. Do you think that this is the cause of his suffering?

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reidalot eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In Mary Shelley's Frankenstein, Victor Frankenstein attributes his fate to his search for knowledge. The novel is related through multiple frames which allow the reader into the thoughts and perspectives of various characters, such as Walton, Frankenstein, and the monster.

At the beginning of the work Frankenstein asks Walton: "Unhappy man! Do you share my madness? Have you drunk also of this intoxicating draught?" (29). Frankenstein calls the quest for knowledge madness. It was this madness that led to his obsession to create the monster. More importantly, this obsession led him to create life. The creation of life is a powerful responsibility, and Victor Frankenstein does not handle this power well, abandoning his creation and leading to the destruction of those he loves, as well as to his own downfall.

Shelley creates the mad scientist in the character of Frankenstein and uses his character as a warning that scientific discovery can lead to danger and pain. Frankenstein relays this same warning to Walton. However, a different approach can be considered that pursuing knowledge must be tempered with good judgement. In Frankenstein's case, the pursuit of knowledge is likened to obsession and addiction, negative traits.

jameadows eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Victor Frankenstein's tragic fate could also be read as a result of his unwillingness to care for his Creature. After the Creature is created, Victor does not care for him or provide for his happiness.

The Creature is an intelligent being who tells Victor that he will be docile and caring if Victor, in return, cares for him. The Creature tells Victor, "Remember that I am thy creature; I ought to be thy Adam, but I am rather the fallen angel, whom thou drivest from joy for no misdeed." The Creature says that Victor should treat him as God treated Adam, the first man—as a cherished being. Instead, the Creature feels as if Victor treats him like "the fallen angel," or Satan. Just as Satan wanted God's love but was spurned and therefore turned to evil, the Creature also wants love but is rejected. For example, the Creature asks Victor to make a mate for him, but Victor refuses to do so. By not taking care of his Creature, Victor sets him on the road to ruin. Therefore, it is not necessarily the quest for knowledge but the inability to care for his creations that leads Victor to his tragic fate.

teachertaylor eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In part, Victor's relentless quest for knowledge is the cause of his tragic fate.  He stops at nothing to find out whether or not he can be successful in creating the monster.  Although his relationships suffer while he spends countless hours in his workshop, Victor makes his creation the priorty of his life.  Along with his need to know, Victor's hubris drives his behavior.  Certainly Victor feels a sense of power in being successful with his experiment, and his pride pushes him towards the completion of the project.  Once the monster is created, Victor has met his goals and he no longer wants to deal with the monster which eventually becomes problematic.  So, it is both Victor's need to know and his sense of pride that lead to tragic ends.

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