ethics of creation
Of course Victor is not the only one at fault. Instead, Shelley indicates that much of the blame belongs to his teachers, who quickly dismiss his interest in arcane knowledge without explaining why such knowledge is dangerous. When Victor begins to study alchemy, his father notes in passing that Cornelius Agrippa is a waste of time. As Victor later recognizes,
if, instead of this remark, my father had taken the pains to explain to me that the principles of Agrippa had been entirely exploded and that a modern system of science had been introduced which possessed much greater powers than the ancient under such circumstances I should certainly have thrown Agrippa aside. (477)
the university, M. Krempe, like Victor's father, dismisses the alchemists
as "nonsense," while M. Waldman tells Victor that alchemy
"promised impossibilities and performed nothing" (485-486).
When Victor then turns to the study of modern science, his educators
fail to see that Victor's interest in this field is fueled by the impossibilities
promised in alchemy. Victor seeks dangerous knowledge-the creation of
life-with new, practical methods of science. Combining his knowledge
of physiology and anatomy with "an almost supernatural enthusiasm,"
he does indeed create life-but it is, to him, a monstrous creation (489).
Shelley thus proposes that a mentor must clearly identify dangerous
knowledge as such, and disapprove of its pursuit with wisdom.
|approach to knowledge|