The Tree of Knowledge

In Frankenstein, Mary Shelley warns that with the advent of science, natural philosophical questioning is not only futile, but dangerous. In attempting to discover the mysteries of life, Frankenstein assumes that he can act as God. He disrupts the natural order, and chaos ensues.

Mary Shelley goes to great lengths to emphasize the beauty and order of life when man engages in ìnaturalî pursuits. She idealizes Frankenstein's home life: ìI feel exquisite pleasure in dwelling on the recollections of childhood, before misfortune had tainted my mindî (38). His family is orderly and wonderful. Clerval's ìpresence brought back to my thoughts my father, Elizabeth, and all those scenes of home so dear to my recollectionÖI felt suddenly, and for the first time during many months, calm and serene joyî (58). Shelley also stresses that man should feel at one with nature, not at odds with it: ìWhen happy, inanimate nature had the power of bestowing on me the most delightful sensationsî (68).

Certain occupations allow man to be at one with nature and his fellow creatures. Shelley feels that science should be useful and beneficial to mankind. Clerval, a clearly pure and benevolent character, studies languages. He loves poetry. These...

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