Notable Quotables | Frankenstein

Wow I haven’t done one of these in a long time.

But if you didn’t think there would be quotes worth flagging in Frankenstein….well, just no. No.

A good chunk of the quotes are about knowledge. First, there’s Victor, on learning that alchemy isn’t a “true science”, which, more likely than not, is why he dares to even create the monster in the first place:

I was required to exchange chimeras of boundless grandeur for realities of little worth.

There’s also a warning against knowledge:

Learn from me, if not by my precepts, at least by my example, how dangerous is the acquirement of knowledge

And while the book seems to be against technology or scientific knowledge as a whole, there are several cases where knowledge is praised:

Oh what a strange nature is knowledge! It clings to the mind, when it has once seized on it, like a lichen on the rock.

The labours of men of genius, however erroneously directed, scarcely ever fail in ultimately turning to the solid advantage of mankind.

In an evil hour I subscribed to a lie; and now only am I miserable.

The more interesting quotes (in my opinion) are about creation, and the definition of morality. The monster often makes a point that Frankenstein is his creator, and therefore responsible for his upbringing, but Victor fails at this:

Remember I am thy creature; I ought to be thy Adam, but I am rather the fallen angel, whom thou drivest from joy for no misdeed.

God, in pity, made man beautiful and alluring, after his own image; but my form is filthy type of yours, more horrid even from the very resemblance.

His tale, and the feelings he now expressed, proved him to be a creature of sensations; and did I not as his maker, owe him all the portion of happiness that it was in my power to bestow?

And in the end, the monster rejects the creator/creation paradigm altogether:

Remember that I have power; you believe yourself miserable, but I can make you so wretched that the light of day will be hateful to you. You are my creator, but I am your master—obey!

But in the end, this story is really one of morality and human nature:

Was man, indeed, at once so powerful, so virtuous, and magnificent, yet so vicious and base?

But in terms of who is more human, Frankenstein or the monster, take some of their final words into consideration. Frankenstein stubbornly and statically insists that the crew continue on their dangerous and possibly fatal voyage:

Oh! be men, or be more than men. Be steady to your purposes, and firm as rock. […] Do not return to your families with the stigma of disgrace marked on your brows. Return as heroes who have fought and conquered, and who know not what it is to turn their backs on the foe.

While the monster simply asks forgiveness:

Oh Frankenstein! generous and self-devoted being! what does it avail that I now ask thee to pardon me? I, who irretrievably destroyed thee by destroying all thou lovedst.

Featured image from Crash Course. All quotes are from Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein.

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