Frankenstein By Mary Shelley Outline English Literature Essay
In the novel Frankenstein, by Mary Shelley, Victor Frankenstein is retelling, to Walton, how his life was heading downhill. He explains that he is at the bottom pit of life and knows that he can’t fulfill his purpose of killing his monstrous creation. The title of the novel correlates to the story through the life of Victor Frankenstein. It is the biography of his whole life leading up to the point of his unfortunate death. Knowledge is a useful and powerful element, but it can be the downfall of life.
In the summer of 1816, Mary Shelley wrote her most famous novel, Frankenstein, when she visited Lord Byron at his villa beside Lake Geneva in Switzerland. The weather was dark and gloomy, which forced them to stay inside. They often read many ghost stories during the time they were inside and Bryon challenged them to write a horror novel. The scenery of the villa helped her write such a gothic novel, which she produced at age nineteen. Her life was similar to the novel through the many deaths, her children and husband, she had mourned just as Victor had. She wishes multiple times that she can bring back her first dead child, which sparked the creation of her work. The era in which she lived in was of during the age of reasoning, which was mainly about scientific exploration and biological experimentation. The novel was written as the modern version, at the time, of Prometheus. Prometheus and Frankenstein both are creators of a human species and both defied heaven. Prometheus was associated in the creation of men through earth and water, while Frankenstein created the living dead. Zeus confiscated fire from man and Prometheus went against the heavens and returned it to man, while Frankenstein possessed knowledge that only the heavens knew and created what was once dead, alive.
In the opening scene, Walton found Frankenstein half dead in the arctic. Frankenstein then tells the story of events leading to his recent sole purpose in life. He starts out describing a childhood that he cherished. Frankenstein had everything; intelligence, he’s family was not in poverty, he had a “promised gift” and a soon to be wife, and a family that was full of love, “kindness and indulgence”. He described a perfect life with a perfect family; however, his thirst for knowledge provoked his misfortunes that would soon strip away his happiness and everything he was fortunate for. The purpose of describing his wonderful and peaceful childhood was to increase the impact on a tormenting life and pitiful death. The transition from having everything to ending up with nothing appealed to our emotions of sympathy.
The setting in which this takes place is the North Pole, when Walton and his men found the creature and Frankenstein. Then the places the Frankenstein family travelled because the father believed that “[they] should be acquainted with other customs than those of [their] native country.” Also, their native land, which is Geneva. They belong to the high class citizens. The creature was “irrevocably excluded” from society because of his unappealing features. The feeling of isolation and loneliness from society influenced the creature to sabotage Frankenstein’s life for making him suffer through his miseries.
One theme of the novel is appearance. Through the creature, Shelley expresses how society judges solely on appearance and not the personality of an individual. Sown together by body parts of corpse, the creature wouldn’t end up beautiful and because of his alarming features some [villagers] attacked [it] until [it] was grievously bruised by stones and many other kinds of missile weapons.” What the villagers didn’t know was that the creature was a sensitive kind man. The creature stole foods from the harvest that the family in the cottage lived in, but when he realized that they were unhappy because they lived in poverty, he refrained from stealing their foods and “satisfied [himself] with berries, nuts and roots [he] gathered from [the] wood[s].” As a repayment of stealing their foods he “assist[ed them with] their labours.” Throughout his life, the creature was never accepted by anyone because he was known only as a “figure hideously deformed and loathsome [and] was not even of the same nature as man.” The conflict that the creature faced was with Frankenstein and how he had a chance to be happy and the creature didn’t, in which that hatred “filled [him] with an insatiable thirst for vengeance.”
-Important Quotes: “Am I to be thought the only criminal, when all humankind sinned against me” “was there no injustice in this?” “I, the miserable and the abandoned, am an abortion to be spurned at, and kicked, and trampled on.” “Even now my blood boils at the recollection of this injustice.”
Frankenstein’s and the creature is external conflict because the conflict is involving struggles outside the character’s mind. Frankenstein’s struggle to protect his loved ones from the malicious creature who was murdering them. The creature was in conflict with Frankenstein because he created him, whom was destined to be isolated from society and Frankenstein will not take the blame for it. The characters are realistic because they are in the novel to demonstrate the conflict between two men and how they provoked each other’s downfall. They are at first a creator and his creation, but the creature viewed their relationship as “the slave …[and] the master, while Frankenstein viewed their relationship as the victim and the murderer. Frankenstein is a secluded person who “avoid[s] a crowd and attach[es himself] to a few;” however, the creature seeks “love and fellowship” and wishes to not be isolated from society. Frankenstein and the creature both are quick learners and have an interest in obtaining more knowledge. They also, have the same purpose in life, which is the “completion of [their] demoniacal, [which] became an insatiable passion.” They both had no other purpose but to cause each other misery through their vengeance. The significance to the comparison is that they both had similar qualities and could have been good friends if it weren’t for the gruesome appearance of the creature.
Shelley’s diction is not very strong because sensory detail doesn’t help support her cause. There are some detailed sceneries about nature and the settings, but it isn’t a major factor. Tone is one major factor. Shelley used dramatic irony when Frankenstein believed that he is the next victim of the creature on the night of his and Elizabeth’s wedding, but from previous murders, the audience realizes that the next victim is actually Elizabeth. Also she uses situational irony when Frankenstein looks “upon the sea, [which he believes] was to be [his] grave.” He gets stuck in the boat and believes that it is the end of his life, but then his “heart [started] bounding with joy at [his] unexpected escape.” He was then shocked that instead of helping him out they accused him murdering Henry.The tone of the novel is sympathetic because of the agonies that Frankenstein and the creature faced. It makes the reader feel pity for their unfortunate souls.
The time period is during the 1800’s, when Frankenstein is at the near end of his life. Then it switches to his whole life story, which starts from his birth until the present time of him telling the story. The plot is told through Walton’s, Frankenstein’s and the creature’s point of view. It was told through Walton’s point of view because he is writing letters to his sister, updating her about what is going on in his life. It was told through Frankenstein’s point of view because he was telling the story of his sole purpose to Walton. It was told through the creature’s point of view because he was telling Frankenstein his story about what problems he had faced. It changes point of view to hear from all sides of the story. It is to not have the author influence the reader into reading a one-sided plot. The striking incident was the deaths of the loved ones of Frankenstein. For such a kind monster, he physically killed two innocent people. Also at the end when the creature showed “expression of misery” to Walton, it was surprising because of the strong feelings of hatred that the creature had towards Frankenstein was all gone when his creator died. He felt the new misery of grief and regret. The exposition of the novel happens in the letters and in the first two chapters. In the letters they give a background to how Walton has been living his life and how he met Frankenstein. Then Frankenstein tells him about his worry free childhood up until his mother catches the scarlet fever from Elizabeth. The rising action is when Frankenstein beholds a secret that only the heavens knew and that he used that information to bring the dead back to life. He produced a creature that was hideous to look at. That creature became isolated from society and lived his life full of misery and loneliness, which he then seeks out to find just one person who will accept him for who he is. His misery has provoked him to kill Frankenstein’s loved ones. The climax is when the creature convinces Frankenstein to create another monster, so that he won’t feel so lonely, but during the process of making a female monster Frankenstein destroys it, fearing that they will create a “race of devils… that might make the very existence of the species of man a condition precarious and full of terror.” This angered the creature and puts them in a conflict of causing misery for one another. The denouement is when Frankenstein dies on the ship at the North Pole. The creature feels remorse and guilt for his dead creator. He then decides to “ascend [his] funeral pile,” in which he believes is where he “will [finally] sleep in peace.”
In Prometheus, fire was an essential element of human kind. It is used for light, warmth, and food. It is related to the creature through the creature discovering that fire can create warmth, but when he “thrust[ed his] hand into the live embers” and he burned his hand. Although fire may seem like a positive element, it can “produce such opposite effects.” Fire symbolizes humans by how essential humans are to the advancement of life, yet it can hurt you verbally and physically.
As Frankenstein told the story of his misfortunate life, he mentions a flashback of the times where everything was peaceful and perfect. He uses that to tell Walton that he had everything, but because he defied the heavens and created the monster, his life fell apart. He retells the past as a background of his purpose in life, which is to “destroy the being to whom [he] gave existence” before he died. He wanted to escape the misery that his creation placed upon him. The misery of being responsible for the deaths of all of his loved ones.
The parallel events in the novel is that Frankenstein uses nature to restore his peace of mind and to obtain happiness once again; however, during the time that he admires nature, he then meets the creature who ruins his happiness and brings him back into reality. Also, the creature kills the loved ones of Frankenstein until he is left alone. Shelley uses dramatic irony when Frankenstein was preparing himself to fight the creature because of his threat of being “with [him] on [his] wedding-night.” He thought that the creature was going to attack him, but through previous murders, the audience knew that he was after Elizabeth. The creature and Macbeth from Shakespeare’s play Macbeth, both use the tactics of violence to obtain their goal and accomplish their purpose. Macbeth kills Ducan and arranges the death of Banquo and his son, Fleace, in order to become the king and have his descendants become king. The creature kills all of Frankenstein’s loved on in order for him to feel the loneliness and misery that the creature feels.
I believe that Frankenstein’s death was a satisfaction to his and the monster’s tormenting life. The creature is extremely intelligent and plans to toy with Frankenstein his whole life. Only through his death did he escape the game that the monster laid out for him and fulfill his purpose of “destroy[ing] the being to whom [he] gave existence [to].” He put himself out of misery by unintentionally killing the creature and reuniting with his loved ones in the Underworld. The creature will also “no longer feel the agonies which now consume[s it] or be the prey of feelings unsatisfied, yet unquenched.’’ They both ironically will be more at peace through death than living life.
My impression of Frankenstein, was that it was actually an interesting book. I’m usually into romantic novels more than gothic and dark evil novels; however, this novel surprisingly has kept me interested since chapter one. The fear that arouse from the villagers when they saw the monster and the reaction of monster when it was looking at its self in the reflection of the water reminded me of how a teenage girl would feel when she has a humongous zit on her face and she has to walk through school with it. I personally have imaged people running in fear away from me while I stand in the mirror cringing at a gigantic zit I had once. This whole process of analyzing a novel with this outline and breaking down the parts of the novel that we will most likely be using for the AP test, was very helpful. It provides a bit of a summary of the novel, and quotes that I can use for my test.
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