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The particular construction of one’s face and body has an immediate effect on how a person is perceived. Humans develop personalities and social behaviors that are different from anyone else because of the way other humans react to their physical appearances. In the novel Frankenstein two instances stand out in which Victor gives a description of two very different characters who change the dynamic of the novel. When Victor describes his future wife Elizabeth, and when he describes the Daemon he created.
The way Victor describes Elizabeth makes her seem like a heaven sent angel who embodies the only goodness the novel possesses. The Daemon to Victor epitomizes the evil and ugliness in his life. Victor Frankenstein’s responses to other characters and their physical appearances enhance the emotions portrayed on the reader and the reader’s emotions change along with Victor’s.
Victor Frankenstein describes the first time he ever saw his future wife Elizabeth Lavenza. Victor describes Elizabeth as an angel.
Her brow was clear and ample, her blue eyes cloudless, and her lips and the moulding of her face so expressive of sensibility and sweetness that none could behold her without looking on her as of a distinct species, a being heaven-sent, and bearing a celestial stamp in all her features (Shelley 36).
The way Victor describes Elizabeth expresses the beauty he sees coming from her. To Victor a celestial light radiates from her. “Her brow was clear and ample,” implies that Elizabeth is free of worry and inquisitive.
“Her blue eyes cloudless,” means Elizabeth possesses innocence. Lastly, “A being heaven-sent,” as said before he characterizes her as an angel who possess so much sweetness she would have to be other worldly. The reader cannot help but see Elizabeth as precious and wonderful because through Victor’s eyes she is described as nothing else. Frankenstein is a dark novel with themes of death and evil more specifically: good versus evil, treatment of the uneducated, and the invasion of technology created on those who created it. Victor loses his entire family at the hands of the Daemon and ultimately goes insane in the pursuit to end his life. In such a dark story a release is needed for the reader not to feel like no hope exists. In Victor’s description of Elizabeth he gives the reader the release that is needed. As proof that she is a release for him Victor’s mood changes for the better whenever he receives a letter from Elizabeth, or is able to see her. Elizabeth becomes the bright spot in the novel or the “light” so to speak for the reader and for Victor.
Another instance where Victor describes a physical appearance in which he relays his emotions is when he first lays eyes on his creation. Victor worked relentlessly for two years to complete his creation; his work consumed his entire life. Victor describes his creation as having, “yellow and too horrible for human eyes, and his limbs while attached proportionally were now over grown and deformed” (Shelley 102). He exclaimed that the sight of him was, “tremendous and abhorred” (Shelley 101). Elaine L. Graham describes the creature’s appearance as a reason for other humans to be terrified of him. Graham says, “The visual monstrosity serves as the rationale of the creature’s marginalization by human society, even as his own voice and human sensibilities contradict such vilification” (64). Graham claims that even though the creature’s voice and learned human social skills are quite acceptable his physical appearance continually scares people away. Victor describes his creation’s appearance as, “abhorred,” which implies loathing and detest so much so it makes the reader feel opposition and objection to his existence. The Daemon after his creation causes the death and destruction that haunts Victor throughout his life and makes Frankenstein such a dark novel. As Elizabeth became the light to the readers of novel the Daemon becomes the darkness.
Victor’s descriptions of Elizabeth and the Daemon’s physical appearances make them what they are. They are the light and dark characters in the novel who give Victor his happy moments and horrific moments throughout his life. But Victor Frankenstein is also a character brought to life by the author of the novel Mary Shelley. Instead of being just Victor’s physical descriptions of Elizabeth and the Daemon that sets the mode in Frankenstein Mary Shelley’s use of expert technique with her writing does also. Shelley had to make characters who would revolve around her main character Victor. Shelley, in other words, had to make an “other” for Victor so what she wrote through Victor’s eyes and actions would have merit, and so she would have a successful story. Diane Negra elaborates on what makes characters an “other,” “Although it is now a commonplace in critical studies to conceive of a monster figure as “Other,” and a commonplace in feminist analysis to talk about the cultural positioning of the feminine as “Other.” Shelley understood that society naturally sees women as the partner or the “other” to their male counterparts. So Shelley gave Victor his counterpart in Elizabeth. Shelley also knew that anything outside the norms of physical appearance would be seen as monstrous and therefore automatically dubbed an “other.” So Shelley has also given Victor his Daemon. Elizabeth and the Daemon can be compared to weapons in Victor’s arsenal. Shelley is able moves them around strategically in order to have a dynamic and powerful story. She succeeds in creating such a story and produces a technically inspirational novel which has become a classic throughout the world.
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