In Mary Shelley’s gothic novel, Frankenstein, Victor Frankenstein creates and animates a monster from various corpses. Victor’s experiment works, yet when the creature he creates comes to life, he is hideous. He immediately flees from Frankenstein’s laboratory and kills Frankenstein’s brother. Later, feeling ultimate loneliness, the creature begs Frankenstein to build a companion for him, but he refuses to complete the task. In revenge, the creature murders Frankenstein’s wife and best friend (Hawkins). Frankenstein is a story that focuses on the outcome of Victors endeavor to interfere with nature.
In the novel, Victor’s creation is not born evil; rather it is the result of poor parenting that he becomes evil and vengeful. Throughout the novel, Shelley creates a definite perception of the creature and his creator by using various writing techniques. Shelley makes readers sympathetic towards the creature by offering hints in her work as to the creature’s true sentiments. She also uses writing techniques to create the perception that the true monster is Victor, not the creature that he created. Shelley offers insight into a series of character’s qualities and actions and this offers readers a greater view into their knowledge and their personalities. By using these effective writing techniques, Mary Shelley is able to create the perception that the real monster is Victor and not the monster himself.
Shelleys use of the technique of having three different narrators offers readers a greater perception into the experiences and the personality of Walton, Frankenstein, and the creature. This switch allows readers to have greater insight into the inner experiences of the characters, which leads to further development in the attitudes in which the readers begin to grasp from each character. Shelley includes the story of Victor, the creator, and the story of the creature, the created, to emphasize the contrast between their personalities and their different experiences. The contrast offers readers two entirely different views, and thus two entirely different responses towards each character.
One example of this can be found in the story of the creature. The story incorporates the innocence and benevolence in the creatures personality along with the tormenting hardships that the creature was forced to experience. Even the creatures creator detests him, and upon meeting him in the summit of Mont Blanc, Victor roared Abhorred monster! Fiend that thou art (Shelley 81)! The revulsion that is present toward that creature causes the reader to sympathize with the creature rather than to detest him.
Shelley also includes the perspective of Victor, which gives readers insight on Victors arrogant, haughty, and appearance-based personality. Again, this causes readers to sympathize with the creature, which has fallen victim to Victors thoughtless actions. The beauty of the dream vanished, and breathless horror and disgust filled my heart. Unable to endure the aspect of the being I had created, I rushed out of the room and continued a long time traversing my bedchamber, unable to compose my mind to sleep (Shelley 42), Victor said.
This example causes the reader to question Victors capability of thinking and the thought that he actually put in before making the creature, and thus the reader begins to question whether the creature is the monster, or whether it is actually Victor who is the thoughtless, ignorant monster. Readers are made to think that the creature is the more civilized creature of the two, and that the character of Victor is far more monstrous and dangerous than that of the creatures. By using the structure of three narrators, Shelley ultimately shapes the readers responses towards Victor and the creature.
Shelley uses the writing technique of imagery and symbolism to shape the reaction of readers and the ideas surrounding them. The use of imagery portrays ideas visually, which is ultimately more effective in causing the reader to respond in a certain way (Imagery). For example, Shelley portrays the depressing and miserable world in which the creature is born into as full of hypocrisy, oppression, and prejudice. The creature experiences neglect and is left to fend off for himself. When he tries to acquaint himself to the DeLaceys, a family that the creature has been watching and learning from in the forest for a long time, and fails and is beaten, he is left with a sense of ultimate loneliness. My heart sank within me as with bitter sicknessI saw [Felix] on the point of repeating his blow, when, overcome by pain and anguish, I quitted the cottage, and in the general tumult escaped unperceived to my hovel (Shelley 115).
This powerful imagery causes readers to visualize and place themselves in the situation of the creature, thus feeling his pain and suffering as he was continually beaten by Felix for the cause of only trying to make an introduction and make some friends. In turn, this causes readers to deeply sympathize with the creature and understand the neglect and suffering that he is facing. This situation also causes readers to think about the prejudice he faced just because of his ugly appearance. It makes readers consider who the monster really is, whether it is the creature with the unsightly appearance, or the mad, heartless man who created him. Shelley cleverly uses the writing techniques of imagery and symbolism to shape the responses of readers towards the idea that the real monster is Victor, not the creature.
Shelleys use of tone and word choice in Frankenstein is also very efficient in influencing the way readers thought about Victor and the creature. Shelleys tone always consists of emotion and figurative language. Along with powerful and expressive word choice, which emphasizes and dramatizes Shelleys ideas, her tone and word choice also helps to arouse the readers emotions in a particular way. For example, when the creature narrates, the tone is very depressing and unhappy and dramatizes the experiences that he had and the feelings that he felt. Shelley used words such as pain, miserable, desolate, and oppressed to describe the experiences of the creature, which dramatizes the suffering and torment that the creature faces and arouses the emotions of the readers to sympathize with the creature.
Shelleys tone and word choice for Victor is also very influential in revealing his character. Shelleys word choice dramatizes the personality of Victor and highlights the selfish, appearance-based attitude which he is shown to have. When Victor first sees the creature, his own creation, and examines it, his tone is of shock and disgust rather than of admiration or love, and the first thing he mentions is how ugly the creature is. I beheld the wretch—the miserable monster whom I had created (Shelley 43). Readers respond negatively towards Victor even from the beginning, ironically viewing him as more dangerous and treacherous than the monster himself. Shelley uses powerful words that force the reader to respond a certain way. She uses tone to arouse the readers emotions and to make her readers understand the relation between Victor and the creature and who the real monster is.
Mary Shelley is able to create the perception that the real monster was Victor and not the monster himself. Readers continually sympathize with the creature and realize that Victor is actually more of a monster than the creature is. Readers realize that society never gave the creature a chance. Although the creature was born innocent, the corruption and prejudice of society spoiled the creature. Mary Shelley uses writing techniques, such as the implementation of characterization, imagery, symbolism, tone, and word choice to successfully depict ideas, create visual images, and arouse emotions, to create the perception that Victor was the real monster in Frankenstein. Works Cited”Imagery.” HMS. Harris Middle School. 30 Sep 2008.
Hawkins, Kathy. What is Frankenstein?. Conjecture 2003. 24 Sep 2008.
Shelley, Mary. Frankenstein. New York: New American Library, 2000.