‘Frankenstein’ - Commentary
The extract from ‘Frankenstein’ by Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley is a narrative of Victor Frankenstein, a scientist, who has created life from dead matter. He has made a promise to his creature that he would create another monster – a female – for his companionship. He has been working hard on this task alone in his laboratory. Victor contemplates the ramifications of his work on society. He fears that the new monster may become wicked and treacherous, maybe even worse than his first creation. He looks out the window and sees his monster, who had followed him everywhere to make sure he fulfilled his promise. Seeing the look of malice on the monster’s face and becoming aghast with the fact that he might create a race of monsters, Victor Frankenstein tears up the project he is working on. The extract concludes with a mysterious figure rowing a boat up to Victor’s house and quietly entering though the front door.
The events of this extract are set in an isolated laboratory, possibly located on an island, in Europe. The laboratory itself is situated by the seaside, which is made clear by the line: ‘A few fishing vessels alone speckled the water’. In this context, the laboratory setting conveys an eerie atmosphere because the narrator is working on an abnormal experiment; his work is for his own purposes rather than for the good of mankind. In fact, his work may very well be the opposite. The setting of the passage provides a cold, gloomy atmosphere which complements the dark and foreboding nature of the story.
The title of the novel is worth mentioning: Frankenstein; or The Modern Prometheus. There is a common misconception in popular culture that the monster’s name is Frankenstein, however in Mary Shelley’s novel Victor Frankenstein is the name of the scientist and his monster is unnamed, a symbol of his lack of human sense and identity.
Characterization is especially significant to appreciating this piece. The character of...
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