Human curiosity in "Frankenstein"

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Name: Ilia Nee

Class: PHL 103

Date: 12 April 2012

The mover of the progress…

        Mankind throughout its history always made many different discoveries. People are very curious creatures, and they always want to learn something new. Mary Shelley in her novel Frankenstein refers to human curiosity and the acquisition of knowledge. Almost every character in this novel is a very curious person. Robert Walton wanted to explore the North Pole, the Creature tried to learn more about everything that surrounded him and, finally, Victor Frankenstein was absorbed in science, he wanted to create a human being, and he did it. Mary Shelley describes the consequences of this curiosity, and almost all these consequences are bad. It follows from this that human curiosity brings misery. Based on facts that human curiosity is the mover of progress of human civilization, that without curiosity human civilization will stop its development, and, moreover, it will lead to the degradation, this paper will show that human curiosity is not only a curse, but it is also a blessing, and if people control their curiosity, it will become only a blessing.

        First of all it is necessary to understand what curiosity is and why people are curious. The definition in any dictionary describes curiosity as “a strong desire to know or learn something”. (Oxford English Dictionary) People start to learn everything about the surrounding world from their childhood and never stop it. But why are people curious from their childhood? The evolution of all living creatures is determined first of all by changes in the environment and changes in the living conditions of living creatures. The peculiarity of the existence and the evolution of rational beings is a fact that they are reasonable and they are very curious; therefore, these creatures always want to improve their living conditions. However, only human beings are rational beings on the planet Earth. Therefore, curiosity is one of the main parts of the human nature, and that is why people are curious.

        Mary Shelley describes this part of human nature in her novel, and she begins with Robert Walton. Robert Walton was a self-educated man who sought knowledge from his expedition to the North Pole. As the leader of an expedition, Walton was responsible for the lives of other people, and, therefore, he had to protect them. However, Walton was completely absorbed in his desire to explore the North Pole, he was too curious, because Walton’s education “was neglected” (Mary Shelley, Frankenstein, W.W. Norton & Company, 1996; p. 8) and he read a lot of books about voyages during his childhood that made expeditions “the favourite dream of [his] early years”. (Mary Shelley, Frankenstein, p. 8) That is why Walton wanted to “satiate [his] ardent curiosity with the sight of a part of the world never before visited”. (Mary Shelley, Frankenstein, p. 7) Therefore, he did not think about his people, he was interested only in the achievement of his goal. According to the “Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein” movie, Walton’s people died, but Robert did not pay attention to their deaths and forced his people to keep moving forward, neglecting the fact that they all could die, but as the leader of the expedition, Walton was responsible for lives of each person in his ship and had to think about them. Walton changed his mind after Victor Frankenstein told his story. If Frankenstein did not tell his story, Walton’s expedition could lead to the bad consequences, even though his discoveries were good for the mankind, and, therefore, the acquisition of knowledge, in this case, would be a curse.

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        The next very curious character is the result of Victor Frankenstein’s experiments, the Creature, and he was the most curious character in Shelley’s novel, because at the beginning after his creation he was like a child, he did not know anything in this world, and everything was new for him. The Creature started to learn everything about the surrounding world. One of the greatest discoveries was human speech. It was a “godlike science” for the Creature, and he “ardently desired to become acquainted with it”. (Mary Shelley, Frankenstein, p.75) It led to other discoveries, because the Creature was curious. He ...

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