PROMPT:Refer to volume one, chapter four, from the third paragraph, “One of the phenomena” to the end of the chapter. What impact does this passage have on you and how is this achieved?
This passage is one in which Victor Frankenstein describes the birth of his creature. Frankenstein’s words and memories reflect his feelings towards his newborn child. This essay will examine Victor Frankenstein’s words, feelings and attitude towards his new companion and also his creation.
Shelley uses this twelve paragraph passage to gain the trust of the reader towards Frankenstein and to also make the reader disapprove of the creature. Shelley tries to make the creature seem inanimate and worthless when Victor Frankenstein tells Robert Walton about his ‘experiment’. Frankenstein refers to the creature as ‘a daemon’, ‘lifeless matter’, ‘a frame for the reception’, ‘the being of gigantic structure’, ‘about eight feet in height’, ‘the lifeless clay’ and ‘the great object which swallowed up every habit of my nature’. Every one of these quotes infers that the creature is a terrifying being who does not resemble a human at all. These descriptions are ones which would describe a hideous fiend. Frankenstein and Shelley use these descriptions to ensure that Robert Walton and also, more importantly, the reader, can gain a prejudice towards the creature on account of Frankenstein’s attitude and the creature’s depressing countenance. Frankenstein knows that Walton is very gullible as he is very lonely and will believe everything that Frankenstein tells him. This is backed up when Walton writes:
In the novel Frankenstein, by Mary Shelley, Victor Frankenstein is the true monster, not the creature himself. Victor Frankenstein grew up in Geneva. He ... creation. The death of Victor's wife, Elizabeth, is Victor's fault also. The creature told Frankenstein that he would be ... assume that in Frankenstein, the creature was the murderer, the truth is the exact opposite. Victor was the real murderer ...
“I have found a man who, before his spirit had been broken by misery, I should have been happy to have possessed as the brother of my heart” (letter 4)
It is obviousthat Victor Frankenstein has reconstructed Walton’s views of the creature. Walton describes him as ‘ apparently a gigantic structure’, ‘savage inhabitant’. This shows that Robert Walton has a natural opinion based on appearance. As Walton acts as the narrator, his views influence the reader. However, due to his split personality, we must ask ourselves as to whether or not, we trust him. His loneliness forces him to side with Frankenstein.
Walton and Frankenstein both share a determined pursuit of knowledge which incorporates the ideas by which Mary Shelly lived. Her father, William Godwin (1756-1836), a radical philosopher and novelist, strongly objected to the pursuit of her happiness, upon the marriage to a leading figure in the romantic, poetic movement, Percy Shelly. This is reflected in the pioneering attitudes of Walton and Frankenstein. In Robert Walton’s case, his father’s last wish was for him not to embark on the journey which he is undertaking.
“My father’s dying injunction had forbidden my uncle to allow me to embark in a seafaring”
Frankenstein’s pursuit of knowledge is displayed in his passionate views on the metaphysical world.
“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 enquiries were directed to the metaphysical, or in its highest sense, the physical secrets of the world.”
Robert Walton wishes to help mankind and become famous by discovering magnetic North. Whereas Victor Frankenstein wants celebrity status whilst banishing disease and saving mankind.
Obviously due to the creature’s recent birth, it must acquire knowledge, like everybody else.
This passage shows a different side to Victor Frankenstein. This is a side that shows his cold heartlessness. He continually refers to the human skeleton as ‘the structure of the human frame.’ By referring to the beauty of the human body as this, Frankenstein shows that he doesn’t care as to the origin of the pieces, as long as they construct what he wishes.
... where he is now. His name is told to be Victor Frankenstein. Walton, during the narration, takes notes in the form of a ... operation. His ignorance is essentially different from that of Victor, for Walton contained no knowledge of how to accomplish his task, and did ... sciences and began a routine of intense studying in the pursuit of preventing death and decay. He then unlocked the secret ...
Frankenstein has been raised to believe that a graveyard, a place of death and of praise is;
“merely the receptacle of bodies deprived of life, which, from being the seat of beauty and strength, had become food for the worm” (1.4)
This proves that Victor Frankenstein does not respect the dead nor appreciate their harmony.
Instead of appreciating the fete of birth and the peaceful, harmonious rest of death, Victor Frankenstein simply believes that they are his boundaries of experimentation. Frankenstein believes that he is above God and can therefore give himself his own boundaries and merits.
“Life and death appeared to me ideal bounds, which I should first break through, and pour a torrent of light into our dark world. A new species would bless me as its creator and source.” (1.4)
Victor Frankenstein seems self critical and despises his creation, and not enjoy his commitment to the never ending pursuit of knowledge.
“Who shall conceive the horrors of my secret toil”(1.4)
“With profane fingers”(1.4)
“I kept my workshop of filthy creation”(1.4)
“Turn with loathing from my occupation”(1.4)
“My employment, loathsome in itself”(1.4)
“I appeared rather like one doomed by slavery to toil in the mines”(1.4)
All of these quotes from the pioneering Victor Frankenstein show us that his pursuit of knowledge has taken over his existence even though he finds his ‘occupation’ loathsome, he is determined and motivated which force him to conquer his ambitions.
Mary Shelly introduces mythological side to her novel by incorporating the idea of one of the Titans, Prometheus. Prometheus stole fire from the Greek God Zeus and gave it to mankind. Victor Frankenstein ids thought to steal knowledge and use it to create a life. This is why the novel can also be called ‘The Modern Prometheus’.
Shelly also incorporates the tale of Faust, who was a legendary magician who sold his soul to the Devil. This implies that Frankenstein gave up his soul in return for the ability to create a life.
... Frankenstein is consumed in his work he feels none of the emotions that the creature feels in his first years of life; Victor says ... or remorse, while Frankenstein's creation has a very natural, human desire to be loved and accepted, ?Once [the creature] falsely hoped to ... evil work stems only from his own greed. Victor Frankenstein and his creation are very much alike. Both are abandoned by their ...
One of Shelly’s important themes in this novel is that of parenting. In reflection to her disapproved relationship with Percy Shelly, the creature is rejected by its father, Victor Frankenstein. Frankenstein and the rest of society, reject the creature due to its hideousness.
“Oh! No mortal could support the horror of that countenance. A mummy again endued with animation could not be so hideous as that retch.”
Victor Frankenstein rejects his creation even when he shows childlike instincts. When Frankenstein went to bed, the creature approached him in its hour of need and begged for love. However Frankenstein simply ran away.
“One hand was stretched out, seemingly to detain, but I escaped and rushed downstairs.” (1.5)
This enlightened us upon the fact that Victor Frankenstein is a terrible father due to his lack of compassion and refusal of responsibility towards his fellow man. This contrasts the relationship between Victor Frankenstein and his parents. He was shown loving affection by both parents and had a very happy childhood.
“No human being could have past a happier childhood than myself. My parents were possessed by the very spirit of kindness and enduldgement” (1.2)
Victor Frankenstein is said to have been a romantic. This is noticed in his interest in nature and scenery, especially for more untamed and orderly areas. Such as the Valleys of Arveiron. He also emphasizes the need for spontaneity in thought and action and also in expression of this. Frankenstein also has an increasing importance attached to the idea of natural genius and the power of the imagination. All of these characteristics are ones which a true romantic would posses. Other romantics include William Wordsworth (1770-1850), John Keats (1795-1821), Lord Byron (1788-1824) and Mary Shelly’s husband, Percy Bysshe Shelly (1792-1822).
In the following quote the landscape can be seen as a parallel between Frankenstein and his creation. As Victor Frankenstein admires the beauty of the Valleys, the scene lifts his spirits.
“These sublime and magnificent scenes afforded me the greatest consolation that I was capable of receiving. They elevated me from all the dullness of feeling, and although they did not remove my grief, they subdued and tranquillized it. In some degree, also, they diverted my mind from the thoughts over which it had brooded for the last month.”
... England where he studies anatomy and works to create his creature. Victor Frankenstein begins his story with the death of his mother during ... see what is happening to them and their family. As Victor Frankenstein said it himself, Seek happiness in tranquility and avoid ambition ... . The novel opens in the desolate Alps with Dr. Victor Frankenstein telling his horrid tale to Walton, an explorer on a ...
In conclusion to this essay I believe that this passage persuades us into sharing Frankenstein’s wild views of the creature. Shelly does this by introducing all of the above themes early into her novel. The theme of countenance is the one, which causes a chain-reaction between the other themes. Shelly describes Victor Frankenstein as a determined hero who is trying to benefit mankind.
Shelly’s attempt to mount tension is done with extreme emphasis upon the creatures countenance. Frankenstein’s description urges the reader to have a negative opinion towards the creature. The introduction of mythological characters reinforces the idea of the creation of life. Shelly’s determination to allow her characters to pursue knowledge adds more tension within the novel, this entices the reader to continue. The reader continually has to ask themselves as to whether or not they can trust the split personalities of all of the novel’s characters. I believe that Mary Shelly chose her words with precision so as to involve the reader within the tale.