How does Waldman influence and inspire Victor Frankenstein on his quest for knowledge in Frankenstein?

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mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

M. Waldman has a profound influence upon Victor Frankenstein because of his wide knowledge, as well as his kind encouragement of Victor in his pursuits in the field of science.

Soon after Victor Frankenstein enrolls at the university in Ingolstadt, he delivers his letters of introduction to some of his professors. As he talks with M. Krempe, the professor of natural philosophy, Victor is asked several questions regarding his progress in the branches of science that relate to natural philosophy. But when Victor recites the names of the authors he has studied, M. Krempe tells Victor, "You have burdened your memory with exploded systems and useless names. . . . My dear sir, you must begin your studies entirely anew." He, then, gives Victor a list of books, informing Victor of his own lectures and that of his fellow professor, M. Waldman.

Victor returns to his lodgings now disinclined to pursue the study of modern natural philosophy. Partly from curiosity, however, Victor attends a lecture of M. Waldman's in which the learned man praises modern chemistry. He tells the students that modern chemists have discovered how the blood circulates and what the air is made of, and they have learned much about nature. Victor is stirred by M. Waldman's words, and his mind is filled with one purpose:

So much has been done, exclaimed the soul of Frankenstein—more, far more, will I achieve: treading in the steps already marked, I will pioneer a new way, explore unknown powers, and unfold to the world the deepest mysteries of creation.

Victor spends a sleepless night. It is not until after dawn that he finally falls asleep. When he awakens, Victor resolves to return to his study of science, for which he believes he possesses a natural talent. He visits M. Waldman, who is affable and kind, even when he hears the names met with contempt by M. Kempe. Instead, he tells Victor that the labors of such men, even if they are erroneously directed, usually "turn to the advantage of mankind" because they serve to lead other men in the right direction.

M. Waldman also tells Victor that he is happy to have gained a disciple. "[I]f your application equals your ability, I have no doubt of your success." Then, he takes Victor into his laboratory where he explains the uses of the different apparatus and machines. Moreover, M. Waldman provides Victor with a list of books to further his knowledge, and he tells Victor that when he is farther along in his studies, he may use this laboratory. After his visit with M. Waldman, Victor declares that he "ended a day memorable to me: it decided my future destiny."

missy575 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Waldman encourages Frankenstein in a variety of ways. First of all, after a rigid approach from M. Krempe, Waldman encourages Victor to embrace the thing of this world that are unknown, after all that is science in itself, looking for the answers. Just being kind and open, not demeaning about the study of the preservation of life like both his father and M. Krempe would have been helped Victor want to keep pursuing his work. This encouragement resulting in Victor burying his head in books and in practice. Waldman had even let Victor into Waldman's laboratory, a true sign of trust. When trusted, we are often moved to act with confidence. Current studies were not encouraged by Krempe, whereas Waldman told Victor to go for it. These encouragements lead Victor into a self-absorbed study which blocks out room for anything but the process of his mind, and eventually his hand's creation.

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