The Paradox Of Discovery In Mary Shelley

1658 words - 7 pages

The Idea of Discovery in Mary Shelley's FrankensteinIn Mary Shelley's Frankenstein, the idea of discovery is a central theme: originaldiscovery is wonderful and naive, yet ends in desolation and corruption. The ambitions ofboth Frankenstein and Walton (to investigate new lands and cast scientific enlightenmenton the unknown) are formed with the best of intentions, however a grave disregard for thesacredness of natural boundaries is trespassed. Throughout Shelly's novel the idea ofdiscovery remains idealized, unfortunately human imperfection completely corrupts allpursuit of that once so cleat ideal. The corruption of discovery can be seen through thecorruption that is natural in every human ...view middle of the document...

) William Walling in his essay: Victor Frankenstein'sDual Role points out "Victor Frankenstein is portrayed as "a version of the 'Creator' -- ofGod Himself" (107.) This should not stun the reader since corruption surely befallsdiscovery and as with any man who deems himself God, the fall will be painful.Nevertheless the stages of discovery were diligently performed, his "astonishment" andsoon gave way to "delight and rapture"; the "overwhelming" nature of his achievementerased all the grim steps that had led to its fruition (51.)The disastrous effects of discovery appears in a somewhat different form withinthe novel. The creature Frankenstein created has become blindly obsessed with revengeand his first victim is Frankenstein's brother William; a young girl, as a reaction to thecrime, is wrongfully accused of murder. Frankenstein remarks, "To us the discovery wehave made (of the girl's guilt) completes our misery'" (75).Walton's idea of discovery consists of pure adventure and the thoughtless chase offame "I shall satiate my ardent curiosity with the sight of part of the world never beforevisited; my enticements induce me to commence this laborious voyage with the joy achild feels when he embarks in a little boat on an expedition of discovery up his nativeriver" (13). Walton's memory of his father's deathbed command, that his son not becomea sailor reinforces the reader's sense of his childish ignorance, as well as serving toforeshadow the unfortunate end of his last expedition. Peter Brooks in hiscritical work on the novel points out Mary Shelley herself was "identified is somerespects as a discoverer, an inventor, as - so her talk of voids and chaos and theconservation of matter suggests - a cosmographer or physicist - perhaps even,via her allusion to Columbus, a navigator" (3.)The opposite, unhappy use of discovery begins the moment Frankenstein beginshis narration. What one unearths may be worthless or misleading, as Frankenstein'schildhood reading of Agrippa makes clear: "A new light seemed to dawn upon my mind,and, bounding with joy, I communicated my discovery to my father. My father lookedcarelessly at the title page of my book and said, Ah! Cornelius Agrippa! My dear Victor,do not waste your time upon this; it is sad trash'" (39). Shelley again connects the wordjoy with discovery, and again contrasts that discovery's initial optimism with itsdisappointing result. But Frankenstein's father does not provide the reason for hiscontempt (the fact that Agrippa's work has been disproved), and so the young intellectualcontinues "to read with the greatest avidity; his desire for knowledge must be satiated"(40.) Certainly, he holds extravagant dreams of the "discovery [that would] banishdisease from the human frame and render man invulnerable to any but a violent death!"(39-40) however, Frankenstein's and Walton's ambition is grounded in flaws: innocence,wrong reasoning, and the egotistical desire for glory. These defects rob discovery of...

Other Papers Like The Paradox Of Discovery In Mary Shelley

Eroticism in the Poetry of Mary Oliver

1789 words - 8 pages Mary Oliver is a renowned American poet who has achieved and been immensely awarded on account of her works. Oliver’s poetry finds its foundation in the natural world of Ohio, where she grew up and where she gets the majority of her inspiration. Mary Oliver uses vivid imagery and various figures of speech to bring to life the world of nature in her poems. Many of which explore the impulse and desire associated with the feelings of

Mary Shelley: Her Life Influence In Frankenstein. Mary Shelley's Life Hardships Show Up Subtley Throughout Her Novel Frankenstein

1322 words - 6 pages Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley endured many hardships during her life. Some of these included her mother dieing during childbirth, her loathing stepmother, and later in life, the death of her beloved husband. Although she maintained a strong relationship with her father, it did not cover-up the absence of a strong maternal figure. Mary Shelley's novel Frankenstein, was influenced by the pain she encountered in her life.Mary Wollstonecraft Godwin

Columbus’ Discovery of the New World

1196 words - 5 pages Columbus’ discovery of the New World Columbus’ discovery of the New World in the 1400’s can be described as one of the most important events to take place in the history of the western hemisphere. In this piece of literature will discuss the different factors influencing sailors’ travel to the New World during the 1400’s through the 1600’s. We will discuss how the wind, currents, shipbuilding and improved navigational aids assisted sailors

Theme Of Self-Discovery In The Awakening And A Doll's House

1178 words - 5 pages The Theme of Self-discovery in The Awakening and A Doll House       In Chopin's The Awakening and Ibsen's A Doll House, the main characters each experience an awakening. Although they lead different lives, Nora Helmer and Edna Pontellier's respective awakenings are caused by similar factors. From the beginning, neither character fits the standard stereotype of women in the society in which they lived. Another factor that influences Nora

Frankenstein By Mary Shelley Is 'Frankenstein' Purely A Gothic Horror Story, Or Is It A Precursor Of Modern Science Fiction?

1662 words - 7 pages shadows and give concealment."It was a dreary night of was already one in the morning; the rain pattered dismally against the panes, and my candle was nearly burnt out...glimmer of the half-extinguished light..."In this paragraph Mary Shelley deliberately uses candles as the main light source, which flicker and cause mysterious misapprehensions, for example, shifting shadows.Following on, another criterion included in a gothic horror

In Letters 1-4 of Frankenstein, What Elements of the Gothic Are Introduced and How Does Shelley Present Them?

847 words - 4 pages blasphemes image to the majority of the population and would be almost terrifying to them. Furthermore, at the time romanticism was still very popular in literature and very few people had branched off into The Gothic style yet, So Shelley asking these blasphemes questions would cause strong anger amongst religious societies. Not only is the thought of imitating God blasphemes, but it is also a moral and cultural taboo which is an important Gothic

The Weakness of Mary Warren

951 words - 4 pages The Weakness of Mary Warren In real life, most people are not entirely good or entirely evil, as they are in some fictional stories. Humans are complex, and all of them have different problems and flaws . In Arthur Miller’s play The Crucible, a terror-driven witch hunt breaks out in the tiny village of Salem, Massachusetts, during a time when the Puritans were newly settled in America. These Puritans wanted nothing more than to live peaceful

Jonas Salk: the Discovery of the Polio Vaccine

824 words - 4 pages JONAS SALK             Jonas Salk, he discovered the vaccine for polio, and it all started threw out his childhood his family and school and all the work he’s done. It all helped him, to accomplish this discovery. And all the ways this discovery has changed peoples lives and schools all over the world.              From the beginning of Jonas Salk’s life to his childhood and the family he has. He was born in New

The Gender Battle In Mary Shelley's Frankenstein

1840 words - 8 pages . Only through the demise of such a character is Victor Frankenstein assured that he has not allowed that force to commandeer the control he and mankind have over femininity. Works Cited Kiely, Robert. The Romantic Novel in England, Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard Univ. Press, 1972. Liggins, Emma 2000. 'The Medical Gaze and the Female Corpse: Looking at Bodies in Shelley's Frankenstein' Studies in the Novel, number 32: 129-146 Shelley, Mary Wollstonecraft. Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus. Ed. D.L. Macdonald and Kathleen Scherf. Peterborough: Broadview Press, 1994.

Scientific Review Of A Journal Related To The Discovery Of Arsenic-Based Dna In A Particular Strain Of Bacteria, Published In December 2010

973 words - 4 pages In December 2010, a published article related to the discovery of arsenic-based DNA in a particular strain of bacteria, gave rise to a lot of hype and in many cases, overstated deductions. Although many seem to concur with the conclusions which this research put forward, others have found the procedure used, unreliable and flawed. Such research and discoveries are of utmost importance since they provide better understanding of life, yet the more

Analysis of the Passage 'William and Mary'

1016 words - 5 pages ever die unexpectedly. The passage is an internal monologue of the wife, while she decides whether or not she wants to, or rather, needs to read the letter. She debates about this, whilst telling the reader more and more about her married life with a late husband and their relationship. In the beginning of the passage, it is shown that Mary receives the letter from the solicitor. Mary’s internal monologue tells her that she does not expect much

Related Essays

Mary Shelley Challenges Society In Frankenstein

1261 words - 6 pages Mary Shelley Challenges Society in Frankenstein        Romantic writer Mary Shelley’s gothic novel Frankenstein does indeed do a lot more than simply tell story, and in this case, horrify and frighten the reader. Through her careful and deliberate construction of characters as representations of certain dominant beliefs, Shelley supports a value system and way of life that challenges those that prevailed in the late eighteenth century

The Paradox Of Perfection Essay

1024 words - 5 pages In 1980, Arlene Skolnick’s “The Paradox of Perfection” was published in Wilson Quarterly around the time when the “ideal family” was highly regarded. The article expresses the idea that the perfect family dose not exist. This essay is a prime example of how society views on what a family should be, subconsciously affects the behavior and attitude of the average family. As a psychologist from University of California, Skolnick presents her views

Individualism And Paradox In The Works Of D. H. Lawrence

1580 words - 7 pages Individualism and Paradox in the Works of D. H. Lawrence        When you read something by D. H. Lawrence, you often end up wondering the same thing: does he hate people? Lawrence has a profound interest in us human beings, but it's the fascination of a child picking at a scab that drives him, rather than a kind of scientific or spiritual quest for some mythical "social truth." Some of Lawrence's works--"Insouciance," for example--question

The Paradox Of Revenge In Edgar Allan Poe's The Cask Of Amontillado

1424 words - 6 pages The Paradox of Revenge in Edgar Allan Poe's The Cask of Amontillado ?The Cask of Amontillado? raises a question pertaining to the multiple character of the self (Davidson 202); Can harmony of one's self be restored once primal impulses have been acted upon? This question proposes the fantasy of crime without consequence (Stepp 60). Edgar Allan Poe uses first person point of view, vivid symbolism and situational irony to show that because