by Mary Shelley
In the Gothic novel Frankenstein, Mary Shelley integrates the rhetorical devices figurative language, imagery, and tone to impart the concept that the desire to acquire knowledge and emulate God will ultimately result in chaos and havoc that exceeds the boundaries of human restraint.
I.Life of Mary Shelley / Characteristics of Gothic Literature
A.Life of Mary Shelley
1.Eleven days after Mary Shelley's birth, her mother, the famed author of A Vindication of the Rights of Woman, succumbed to puerperal fever, leaving her [Mary Shelley's] father, William Godwin, bereft of his beloved companion. In her honor, Godwin puts together a loving tribute entitled Memoirs of the Author of a Vindication of the Rights of Woman, a sensitive and factual account of his deceased wife's life.
2.The relationship between Mary Shelley and her stepmother was strained. The new Mrs. Godwin provoked Shelley's ire by encroaching upon her privacy. In addition, she resented Mary's passionate affection for her father and was envious of the interest showed by visitors in the two radical thinkers of the day.
3.Death revolved around Mary Shelley's life. Her first child was born prematurely and survived for only eleven days; her second child died of malaria; the next child succumbed to dysentery after sustaining life for about a year; and her sister Fanny committed suicide.
4.Mary Shelley was denounced by her beloved father; who thought that she "had been guilty of a crime." Shelley, who was seventeen at the time, was not yet a wife and no longer a mother. She felt insecure and was dependent on her future husband Per Shelley for emotional support and familial commitment.
5.Shelley suffered her greatest loss in 1822, the death of Percy Shelley by drowning. Percy's sudden death left Mary in a psychological turmoil, with feelings of "fierce remorse" and guilt. In order to make up for her guilt, Shelley decided to write his biography and an idealized portrait of him in her next novel, The Last Man.
B.Characteristics of Romantic / Gothic Literature
1.Romantic literature everywhere includes themes such as: imagination was praised over reason, emotions over logic, and intuition over sciencemaking way for a vast body of literature of great sensibility and passion.
2.This literature emphasizes a new flexibility of form adapted to varying content, encourages the development of complex and fast-moving plots, and allows mixed genres and freer style.
3.No longer tolerated, for example, were the fixed classical conventions, such as the famous three unities (time, place, and action) of tragedy.
II.Rhetoric in the Novel
1.From the tortures of my own heart, I turned to contemplate the deep and voiceless grief of my Elizabeth. This also was my doing! And my father's woe, and the desolation of the late so smiling home all was the work of my thrice-accursed hands...Thus spoke my prophetic soul, as torn by remorse horror, and despair, I beheld those I loved spend vain sorrow upon the graves of William and Justine, the first hapless victims to my unhallowed arts."
a.In this quote, Frankenstein has an inner conflict within himself. He has realized that his lack of foresight has caused the deaths of two of his loved ones William and Justine. In doing so, he has also placed grief into the hearts of his father and Elizabeth. Tone here is agonized this is because he is filled with anguish knowing the fact that he created a monster that induced grief among his loved ones. This quote also serves as an example of irony. It implies that instead of achieving the glory he had hoped for by discovering the secret of creation of life, he has only caused grief.
2."Liberty, however, had been a useless gift to me, had I not, as I awakened to reason, at the same time awakened to revenge. As the memory of past misfortunes pressed upon me, I began to reflect on their...