If you have ever read Frankenstein, or really seen any film adaptation, the major take-away is that sometimes our ambitions get out of hand. Victor Frankenstein wanted to be the best, to discover things never before known, and prove to the world he was brilliant. This, of course, all goes downhill. However, something I always relish about reading the first volume of Frankenstein (chapters 1-7 in the 1831 version) and the final letters from Walton, is how much I understand Victor’s love of science. How he describes his passions and dedication resonate with so many in the sciences, especially those doing research. So, here are my top 5 quotes from Frankenstein to motivate my research.
5.”None but those who have experienced them can conceive of the enticements of science”
This quote is all too real for children of non-science minded families. My parents do not comprehend much of what I describe about my lab work, but they always love to hear about it. However, you cannot fully express the wonders and awe of science to someone. I was introduced to science at a young age and therefore was enticed by all the possibilities and amazing aspects of it while my ambitions were shaped. So, my love for science ultimately led me to a major in science and working in a research lab. It may not be the most motivational quote, but it does speak to how similar STEM researchers are in all understand the breathtaking limitless potential of science.
4. “The world to me was a secret, which I desired to discover”
Again, not super motivational, but sort of a reminder of why we study and do all this research. Victor’s love of unravelling this mystery of the world resonates with so many researchers. Whether it was an experience in elementary science classes or a visit to a zoo or any number of things, we fell in love with discovering how something worked, came to be, or could be improved.
3. “It was the secrets of heaven and earth that I desired to learn; and whether it was the outward substance of things or the inner spirit of nature and the mysterious soul of man that occupied me, still my inquiries were directed to the metaphysical, or in its highest sense, the physical secrets of the world.
This quote gets to me because of how breathtaking it can be. He is not simply saying the world, as he did previously, but the heavens. This is in reference to his work on creating life, but also the magnitude of his work. And all science work. And his description of all that also so beautiful to simply say he wants to study science. Which, shows how talented Mary Shelley was.
2. “I ardently desired the acquisition of knowledge.”
This quote has a lot behind it, but it’s too much to include. Victor says this because he decided to pursue research despite having to leave his friends and family, especially after his mother just died. This speaks to the next quote in the sense that Victor choose to follow his heart and not be afraid to learn. Though many people don’t have to leave family miles away with only letters as communication, it is still a brave endeavor to leave one’s home and the known to go off to college and go into research. Victor’s love and passion resonate with me because I left my family three states away to study what I love and pursue research and hopefully grad school.
1. “And wherefore was it glorious? Not because the way was smooth and placid as a southern sea, but because it was full of dangers and terror, because at every new incident your fortitude was to be called forth and your courage exhibited, because danger and death surround it, and these you were to brave and overcome. For this was it a glorious, for this it an honorable undertaking.”
This quote is probably my favorite and the most motivational. It comes from Victor’s speech to the sailors on Walton’s ship who want to turn back. Victor is describing how working towards something new and foreign and amazing can be these things because it is dangerous. There is a risk and a possible fall, but that makes it all worth it. When its complete and the world is changed, you can say you braved all the challenges you faced to accomplish your goal. Your goal is glorious because it involves so much hard work and sacrifice. This is applicable to anything in life. Research has more of a glorious aspect because what we discover can contribute so much to modern science, even simple things. Sometimes you forget why you are struggling so much to understand concepts and spending months trying new ways to do something, and this quote speaks to why we do what we do. Glory is not the major factor, and this book shows that it should not be the major factor of discovery. But, glory speaks to something amazing done, and that is what we do. We discover and work to find ways to make the world a better place.