In Frankenstein, what does Victor gain and lose from his knowledge?
Victor Frankenstein, in Mary Shelley's novel Frankenstein, both gains and loses by coming to understand how, and completing the experiment, to "bestow animation upon lifeless matter."
Victor, upon the death of his mother, threw himself into the studies necessary to reanimate life. His studies at Ingolstadt proved to be very satisfying, Victor was able to bring life to the dead for "it was on a dreary night in November that [he] beheld the accomplishment of [his] toils."
Based upon his success, Victor gained the knowledge to reanimate life (his obsession upon reaching Ingolstadt). This gained knowledge proved that Victor had mastered the human body, the actions of the human body, and how to give life back to the dead.
In contrast to this gained knowledge, Victor also faced loss. Victor lost many things based upon his gained knowledge of reanimating life. Victor lost:
3. His father
5. His mental stability
6. His physical strength
7. His own life
In the end, it seems that Victor's gain of knowledge was far more costly than he ever would have imagined.
Victor primarily gained knowledge: he learned how to create life and to bestow it upon a lifeless body. This is something he really wanted to achieve because he was influenced by Cornelius Agrippa, an alchemist. His interest forced him to leave his home at the age of twenty one and to proceed to the University of Ingolstadt to study this form of science. While at the University, he got to learn about and distinguish between science and mysticism. This knowledge helped him create a huge creature from cadavers, and he finally gave it life. However, when the creature opened his eyes, Victor was repulsed and quickly left the lab, abandoning the creature.
Through the creature, his knowledge led him to suffer several catastrophes, or "losses." First, his brother William is murdered, and Justine their servant is accused and hanged for it. Victor suspects that the creature is the cause of the death of his brother and that of Justine in turn. The creature then murders Victor's wife on the couple's wedding night. Finally, Victor loses his own life by pursuing the creature to the Arctic.