Mary Shelley's Frankenstein Essay

2155 words - 9 pages

Mary Shelley’s novel “Frankenstein” is infused with metaphors, revealing the state of the world during 1818 when the first edition was published. Firstly, through the initial dialog between Victor Frankenstein and the monster he created, an image of a repulsive creature is depicted, revealing the destructive relationship possible between a creator and his offspring. Secondly, it can be observed that the metaphor of the monster reveals Shelley’s criticism of the displacement of religion during the era of the enlightenment. Thirdly, Frankenstein can be seen as a condemnation of the treatment given to those with a visible difference within society. Additionally, Shelley’s creation of the monster in her novel could be seen to reveal the toxic effect of a world without female influences. Finally, Victor Frankenstein’s creation of his monster may have been to reveal the detrimental effects isolation can have on any living being. Thus it is revealed that Mary Shelley’s novel, through the creation of the monster, has many allegories to comment on society’s condition.


Firstly, it is significant to observe the initial depiction of the monster and the dialogue with his creator, Victor Frankenstein, to understand Shelley’s comment on the harmful effects of a negative relationship and the significance of the monster’s portrayal. It is understood that the monster’s physical appearance in the novel is created to represent an object of terror, which is an integral element of the gothic genre. Halberstam argues that Frankenstein’s monster causes its audience to rethink its idea of who is the object of fear, instead of what (Halberstam 1995, p28). In this context, the monster suggests that it is in fact, people, or bodies of people who scare people, and not ghosts, monks, labyrinthine monasteries or windswept castles (Halberstam 1995, p29). It is made evident how monstrous Shelley created the monster to appear when she revised the text in the third edition and apologised for her adolescent audacity, exclaiming she now considered the monster a “frightful transgression” (Poovey 1980 p333). Halberstam’s suggestion for why the fear is so powerful in Frankenstein is due to the change from the landscape representing fear to instead the sutured skin, and the conniving villain is replaced with a monster with dual characteristic, were you are left wondering if he represents good or evil in mankind (Halberstam 1995, p29). The good, however, in the monster is never unveiled on first meeting with the monster, revealed in Victor’s devastation, exclaiming “How can I describe my emotions at this catastrophe, or how delineate the wretch whom with such infinite pains and care I had endeavoured to form? (Shelley, chapter 5, paragraph 2)” This first meeting in many ways sets up Victor’s attitude towards his creation for the duration of their relationship. Victor never shows kindness to his offspring, depriving his monster of his desperation for love, resulting in the...

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