The story of Frankenstein follows Victor Frankenstein’s journey into hopelessness and despair. What began as a life full of promise and joy leads to a sad, bitter end. The story is not meant to have a satisfying, feel-good resolution – in fact, the entire story is filled with injustice and punishment to those who do not deserve it. Even within the first ten chapters, before Frankenstein has had much interaction with his creation at all, he suffers from the consequences of his innovation.
Victor Frankenstein appears to have experienced nothing but happiness early on according to his account of childhood. He clearly possessed a great love and respect for his mother and father, and appears to have missed the common stage of life in which one does not get along with his or her parents. He knew his soul mate from a very young age and from that moment on never once strayed from his passionate love for Elizabeth. Honestly, reading this I thought his description of childhood, although very idyllic and interesting, seemed overly glorified.
However, I think it provides for a more dramatic contrast once Victor’s life finally does go to ruin, and therefore makes for a better story. The first real misfortune that falls upon Victor does not occur until he is seventeen, when his mother dies. Victor and the rest of his family are obviously grief-stricken, but even in the midst of that he must come to terms with her death quickly in order to leave for the university soon after. However, he describes the death as “an omen” signifying the misery that is to come.
This, I think, is one strength of Shelley’s style of writing the story as a narrative within a narrative – by writing the events that occur through the eyes of Walton hearing the events from Victor, everything in the story is accountable to the misery that overtook Victor and led him to icy, desolate Antarctica. Negative occurrences are described as “omens” and in this way we see clearly what kind of a story Frankenstein is meant to be.
Some may believe that this detracts from the suspense factor of the story, but I think it is an important part of the horror genre which this book has spawned – the reader knows immediately that the book he or she is reading will not have a happy ending and will not be filled with smiles and laughter. Think of a short story by Edgar Allan Poe. Most begin with some means of saying “I am in a state of utter despair and here’s why. ” Before Frankenstein begins his first chapter, Walton tells the reader – his sister – that the events that are to come are the events that wrecked Frankenstein’s life.
We as readers are expecting to read the account of a man’s utter downfall, and therefore the starting point – a happy and promising childhood nurtured by caring parents and loving friends – causes this tale of a fateful journey to have that much greater of an impact. An obvious example of Mary Shelley’s usage of intertext can be found in Chapter 10, when Frankenstein decides to climb to the top of the glacier Montanvert. Shelley incorporates an excerpt of the poem “Mutability,” which was written by her husband, to further depict the tumultuous changes which have already occurred in Frankenstein’s young life.
I thought this was an effective way to illustrate this already-descriptive passage; it felt to me like a picture or a photograph helping to enhance the words that accompanied it. Shortly afterward Frankenstein finds himself in the presence of the monster he created. He realizes that it is the monster that has caused the untimely death of William and Justine, and is overcome with rage. Although he is ready to kill the monster, it entreats him to listen, and then compares Frankenstein’s feelings toward him as God’s toward the fallen angel, when he should be seen as Adam, his creation.
This, of course, is a reference to Paradise Lost, which obviously has a great influence on the novel and is even used directly later when the monster gives his own perspective. I think Shelley’s usage of these other works is very effective, and even more so within the context of the time period in which it was written. At that time, the horror genre was very new and may not have even existed at all, and some of the topics she wrote about could have been accepted less readily had it not been for the fact that she used so many references to other literature that made the story more relatable.
Cite this Frankenstein Reflections
Frankenstein Reflections. (2017, Jan 23). Retrieved from https://graduateway.com/frankenstein-reflections/