Novel effect Essay
I think Mary Shelley used language to develop lots of atmosphere in chapter five, I think this is because this huge build up of atmosphere makes you read faster and faster, and makes you want to read more. She uses many long, complex sentences, such as “Delighted and surprised, I embraced her; but as I imprinted the first kiss on her lips, they became livid with the hue of death; her features appeared to change, and I thought that I held the corpse of my dead mother in my arms; a shroud enveloped her form, and I saw the grave-worms crawling in the folds of the flannel,” this creates tension, giving the novel more effect.
As she has used so many long complex sentences, many comma’s and semi-colon’s are used, this makes the reader pause a lot whilst reading, giving the effect of many short sentences, embedded into long, complex ones. As well as these sentences, she also uses many short sentences, and all of these changes lead you to read faster, which creates more tension. An example of one of the short sentences used is “Beautiful!” Another way Mary Shelley may have wanted to create atmosphere is by using many powerful adjectives such as “dreary,” and “miserable.” Words like these also give the effect of imagery, as well as creating huge amounts of atmosphere.
Many other phrases in the book also help build atmosphere, many of which are things Frankenstein says, often about his monster. Examples of this are “miserable monster,” and “wretch.” I think Mary Shelly also created atmosphere another way, without the reader even realising she is trying to. In the novel, many archaic words and phrases are used, like “lassitude,” and “I beheld the accomplishment of my toils.” These words and phrases suit the gothic horror style the novel is written in, and help build up atmosphere. They also give the impression something spooky is going on, as they don’t sound like words we would use today. Also, naturally, people are scared of things that are unfamiliar, and Mary Shelley may have used these archaic words to give the book more of a spooky effect.
I feel that chapter five links to the key themes in the novel, and I think the main one is the fact that Mary Shelley may have been hinting in her novel, that you can’t play god, and in chapter five, that is what Frankenstein is obsessed with doing. His friend, Henry, also notices this, and states “I did not before remark how very ill you appear; so thin and pale; you look as if you had been watching for several nights.” This implies that Frankenstein is an extremely obsessive character, and that he will not rest, until he has fulfilled his goal, creating life (playing god). The rest of the novel is about how Frankenstein’s desperation for power, comes back to haunt him. I also feel that chapter five links in with the key theme in the novel in another way.
Whilst taking about her novel, Mary Shelley said “Frightful must it be; for supremely frightful would be the effect of any human endeavour to mock the stupendous mechanism of the Creator of the world. I feel that the meaning of this phrase, is that she is saying only god should have the power over life and death, and anyone who tries to defy him (by creating life), should be scared, as he will not accept it, and punish the person who defied his right. I think that in her story, she was subliminally hinting this, as she constantly refers to god. When Frankenstein is running away from the monster, the night it is created, he sees the steeple, “its white steeple,” and many other hints are also made.
She could be hinting that straight after the monster is created, god has planned what will happen next. Furthermore, this shows that in the 19th century people were extremely religious, and took care about what they did, as they did not want god to punish them for their actions. Also, the phrase “infuse a spark of being into the lifeless thing that lay at my feet,” is stating that he is going to use electricity of some kind, to bring the “thing,” to life.
This relates to galvanism, which is the process of running charges of electricity through dead animals and trying to bring them back to life, in actual fact, the charges were just making the muscles of the dead animal spasm. So the phrase shows that in the 19th century, many people were trying to bring dead things back to life. Mary Shelley got the idea of using lightning to bring the monster back to life from Luigi Galvani’s idea of galvanism, we know this because as well as overhearing her husband and Lord Byron talking about it, she was also very up to date with scientific experiments at the time.
Furthermore, chapter five also gives us a better understanding of 19th century prose. The words and phrases in chapter five, are typical of 19th century language, for example, the phrase “infinite pain’s and care I had endeavoured to form,” is a phrase we would not use nowadays. Phrases such as this tell us that in the 19th century, writers would write in a much more formal style. I think that this is because in the 19th century, anyone who could read and write would be from an extremely wealthy family, and books were written to suit their style of language, not for the middle class. Another example of a 19th century word is countenance (another word for face), at present time, people are always looking to find abbreviations, so they can communicate faster, however, words like countenance are much longer, and more suited to the formal 19th century style of literature.
From chapter five, we can also learn that in the 19th century, writers would use lots of powerful adjectives, and 19th century works would be very descriptive, with lots of imagery. Examples of powerful descriptive phrases, and adjectives are “grave-worms crawling,” and “demonical.” These words add lots of atmosphere to the story, and there is a strong use of imagery. The final thing I have learned about 19th century prose from chapter five is the use of colons and semi colons.
Mary Shelley uses many semi colons and commas in the novel, and her use of commas and semi colons allows her to build atmosphere using long and complex sentences, and then often rapidly switch to a short one, for example “I took refuge in the courtyard belonging to the house which I inhabited; where I remained during the rest of the night, walking up and down in the greatest agitation, listening attentively, catching and fearing each sound as if it were to announce the approach of the demoniacal corpse to which I had so miserably given life,” then, the first sentence in the next paragraph is just the word “Oh!” This shows that in the 19th century, very often, some people would use commas and semi colons often, instead of full stops.
University/College: University of Arkansas System
Type of paper: Thesis/Dissertation Chapter
Date: 10 November 2017
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