The main motif in Mary Shelly's "Frankenstein" is acquiring knowledge. The three main characters of the book; Walter, Victor and the monster are on a quest for knowledge. Each of the three desires knowledge of a different sort, but in all cases the knowledge and experience they experience are dangerous and unsatisfactory.
Robert Walton attempts to reach the North Pole, a mission that many before him have failed to complete. Although Walton is aware of
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Frankenstein the knowledge is the cause of grief, sickness, and death. Victor, Walton and the monster are all trapped in a maze with no way out; Walton is trapped in the ice, Victor knows that there is no way that he could fix the creation he has given life to, and the monster is trapped with the knowledge that it will be alone forever. In Frankenstein the search for knowledge is the source of tragedy.