Notes on Frankenstein Themes

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Frankenstein Topic Tracking: Glory

Letters

Glory 1: The quest for glory is a potentially fatal flaw in Walton and was the downfall of Frankenstein. Their desire to discover or create and be great among men makes them reckless and dangerous to those around them. Robert Walton seeks glory and knowledge from his expedition to the North Pole. He is fascinated by what he might learn there, but seems to be driven more by the thirst for recognition and accomplishment than just the pursuit of knowledge for its own sake. As the leader of an expedition, he will be responsible for the lives of other men, and if he is ruthless in his pursuit of glory, he will endanger those men. The thirst for recognition and glory leaves no room for rational perceptions of what is possible and what is impossible. It's a dangerous pursuit.

Glory 2: Although Walton finds himself lonely and friendless, he is still passionate about his quest for glory and discovery at the North Pole, but he wishes he had a friend to share the excitement with. Loneliness be damned, he is going to reach his goal and be remembered as the man who made fascinating and helpful discoveries about the secrets of the North Pole. He has no one to temper his lofty ambitions with rational thought about the probability of making it to the North Pole, the danger of going there, and the responsibility he will have as captain for the life of his crew. He is all enthusiasm and no sense.

Glory 3: Walton and his men have started their journey, and he's certain that they will succeed because his men have taken care of a few, small problems that sprang up so far. Because they managed to patch up a small leak without sinking the ship, he believes they can navigate through icebergs, frozen waters, and other unknown hazards of the North Pole. He becomes cocky and believes that the sheer force of his will to succeed can defeat even the obstacles of nature.

Glory 4: When Walton mentions his determination to Frankenstein, Frankenstein seems distraught at Walton's ambition. He plans to succeed even at the cost of human life because he considers his potential discoveries worth such a sacrifice, and Frankenstein recognizes this raw ambition as the same thing that led to the destruction of his family and himself. This was the same ambition that drove Frankenstein to exhaust himself night after night in his laboratory creating the monster that, when completed, was hideous. This ambition is like a madness that blinds men to the dangers of their actions. Frankenstein couldn't see the horror of what he was doing until it was too late, and if Walton doesn't learn to temper his ambition with consideration of his responsibilities to his crew, he's going to get them all killed.

Glory 5: Frankenstein decides to tell Walton his horrible story in the hopes of dissuading Walton from being so determined to achieve glory and recognition that he destroys himself and others in the process as Frankenstein did when he created his monster.

Chapters 1-6

Glory 6: Frankenstein's own quest for glory began with the study of outdated theories on the source of life and how to create a human being invincible to all but a violent death. His passion for the subject was all consuming, but for a brief while he abandoned his studies and found himself a happier person. But that didn't last too long. His desire for glory was merely latent, waiting for the perfect moment to spring up and take over like a disease and consume him until he was blind to all but his thirst for achievement.

Glory 7: At college in Ingolstadt, Frankenstein's interest in the spark of life was renewed by his studies in chemistry, and the desire for glory flared up in him again. This desire for glory prompted many rational and acceptable recognition for improvements on the instruments of chemistry, but all that was preliminary to his ultimate goal, which was to create a human life with his own hands.

Glory 8: After Frankenstein discovered the source of human life power, he became wholly absorbed in his experimental creation of a human being.. This drive for success blinded him to the vulgarity and repulsiveness of harvesting body parts from corpses and reconstructing them in a laboratory. It blinded him to the dangers of his project because all he could see was his goal of achievement and not the repercussions of his actions.

Glory 9: The search for glory left Frankenstein cold when he thought about the hideousness of the monster he created. He left that field of study and the quest for recognition because he was so disgusted with his results. Finally out of the clutches of his impassioned ambition, Frankenstein could see the danger of his desire for glory. He realized the way that it took over his life and blinded him to the pitfalls and terrors of the actions to which his ambition drove him.

Chapters 19-24

Glory 10: When Walton's men are too afraid to continue to the North Pole, Frankenstein gives them a scathing lecture on bravery and determination necessary for glory, but it does no good. The men would rather live than be glorious in death. Walton gives in to their fears and decides to go home although he would rather have glory than life. Frankenstein's story at least brought to light the importance of considering the welfare of others in the quest for glory. Walton did not continue on when so many of his crew were against losing their lives, as they most certainly would have if they had traveled on toward the North Pole. Walton learned to temper his own desire for glory to protect those for whom he was responsible, a lesson Frankenstein didn't learn until it was too late.

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