Like an eejit I missed my deadline for my Coursera yoke today. I had a rough draft written at lunch and should have submitted it then, but thought I’d have time to polish by the time I got home. Well, I didn’t. So missed my deadline. That’s one week gone. I think we get two missed weeks without any issue. But you lucky blog readers get to read my essay anyways :)
How ignorant art thou in thy pride of wisdom! (Shelley, 2008, p. 160)
Victor Frankenstein’s scientific curiosity drives him to do the impossible; he creates life from nothing. In his pursuit of creation, however, everything else was ignored. Yet, the very second he achieves this dream, he casts it away. He disowns his own creation and casts the “monster” out of his life(Shelley, 2008, p. 37).
This is a cruel, selfish act in keeping with Frankenstein’s character. Rarely, if ever, does he stop and consider other people. As a child he thought of others as “a possession of my own”(Shelley, 2008, p. 18). Even when others face death at the end of a hangman’s rope he considers that his own torment is greater than theirs. His emotions trump all else.
This is Frankenstein’s fatal character flaw. His ignorance of other people, selfishness, and egotism lead him to abandon this newly-created life without any thoughts as to how it will survive or the impact it will have on others.
Frankenstein is proud of his scientific ability, but his ignorance of human emotion is his downfall, and the ruination of his family. The monster shares his creator’s flaw. We may empathize with the monster’s loneliness but the reader cannot but be appalled at its actions. The murder of a child and the framing of an innocent cannot be brushed aside. They reveal that the monster too sees the world through selfish eyes. It destroys because of its own suffering, yet cannot see that others are innocent of any wrong-doing. It emulates its creator’s possessive disposition. The monster does not think of its victims as individuals in their own right: they are extensions of Frankenstein and are therefore legitimate targets for its revenge.
Wisdom encompasses not merely knowledge but morally acceptable implementation of this knowledge. Both Frankenstein and his creature are intelligent, but neither have true wisdom. They take pride in their achievements, regardless of the impact these have on those around them.