Essay on The Tree of Knowledge in Frankenstein by Mary Shelley

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The Tree of Knowledge in Frankenstein by Mary Shelley

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
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Frankenstein delves into these studies, hoping to ìunfold to the world the deepest mysteries of creationî (47). ìLife and death appeared to me ideal bounds, which I should first break through, and pour a torrent of light into our dark worldî (52)
Frankenstein succeeds in discovering the secrets of life and death, and becomes able to bestow ìanimation upon lifeless matterî (51).
While Frankenstein is involved in this pursuit, Shelley portrays his life as grotesque and unnatural in comparison to his childhoodóhe abandons everything that clearly made his life natural and good: ìThe dissecting room and the slaughter-house furnished many of my materials; and often did my human nature turn with loathing from my occupationî (53). Frankenstein cuts off contact with his family, and no longer appreciates the glory of nature. He confines himself to a roomóhis occupation is unnatural: ìWho shall conceive the horrors of my secret toil as I dabbled among the unhallowed damps of the graveÖand disturbed, with profane fingers, the tremendous secrets of the human frameî (53). With these descriptions, Shelley tells the reader that Frankenstein treads on forbidden groundóhe does not discover secrets, but ìdisturbsî them.

When Frankenstein's completes his

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