What are some recurring symbols or ideas in Frankenstein?

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A recurring idea in Frankenstein is the abuse of human knowledge. Knowledge, particularly scientific knowledge, can be used for the benefit of humanity. (Think of all the ways that science has improved our lives: clean water, modern medicine, the eradication of deadly diseases.) But it can also be used for...

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A recurring idea in Frankenstein is the abuse of human knowledge. Knowledge, particularly scientific knowledge, can be used for the benefit of humanity. (Think of all the ways that science has improved our lives: clean water, modern medicine, the eradication of deadly diseases.) But it can also be used for dangerous ends (such as the manufacture of nuclear weapons.)

Victor Frankenstein's crazy experiments definitely fall into the latter category. When he created his monster, he wasn't thinking about benefiting humanity; he was thinking only of himself. He wanted to create a race of creatures who would bow down before him like a god.

But Victor's plans go disastrously wrong right from the off as his monster breaks his programming and starts going around killing people. He also defies his master and makes increasingly shrill demands of him. Almost everything bad that happens in the story is an example of the misuse of science, one of the most important recurring ideas in the book.

In the story, the monster begins to identify with Adam, our original ancestor according to the Genesis creation myth. The monster as Adam symbolizes both creation and the dual nature of man. Adam was created as an innocent creature but then defied God by eating of the Tree of Knowledge, thus introducing sin and death into the world.

The monster, too, was innocent when created but quickly lapsed into sin when he started killing people. Although the monster is a hideous creature that frightens everyone who lays eyes on him, in his dual nature he strongly resembles Adam and every subsequent human being.

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