As seen in Mary Shelley's Frankenstein, what contradictory ideas about science are raised during Victor's student days at Ingolstadt?

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literaturenerd eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Chapter three of Mary Shelley's Frankenstein offers readers a look at Victor's professors and their thoughts on science. Victor, mostly self-educated, finds his own studies contrasting with the studies his professors would name as important. Since much of Victor's studies lie in alchemy (and "nonsense" according to Krempe), his professors want him to focus more upon natural philosophy. 

According to Waldman, the ancient teachers of the sciences "promised impossibilities and performed nothing." The philosophers, on the other hand, are comparable to gods. They, according to Waldman, are able to control the thunder, earthquakes, and the invisible world. The authors Victor had studied to this point offered nothing life those Waldman brings up. 

Essentially, Victor learns that science is more than a singular study. Not only must he study science to become a "man of science," Victor must study "every branch of natural philosophy, including mathematics." Therefore, the contradicting ideas which Victor learns of in school are that all branches of science are important (Waldman) not only natural philosophy (Krempe). 

davidmc | Student

The two professors, Krempe and Waldman, differ in their views regarding natural philosophy and this influences their attitude towards Victor. Krempe belittles the people who Victor has studied in the past, though Waldman is eager to harness the obvious talent that Victor has. Equally, he startles his peers with the progress he is making. On a superficial level the 'progress' Victor is making is exceptional and he becomes notorious (an ambition of his) within Ingolstadt circles. It does, however, cause him to ignore those closest to him for two years. This raises questions of compatibility between the domesticity and man's potential to explore. Interestingly, Alphonse abandons his legal work in order to live in domesticity with Victor's mum. Also, if we expand this a little wider, science's production is fundamentally good. However, it turns into a disaster as the monster is not administered with the care and attention needed. The impacts science has on the creator, Frankenstein, are also apparent as he becomes emaciated by the debacle. The need for accomplishment is central to scientific discovery and has the potential to infiltrate the mind to such a degree that it becomes an infatuation.

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