Presentation of 'the Monstrous' in the Opening Chapters of Frankenstein

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The Presentation of ‘The Monstrous’ in the opening chapters of Frankenstein

In Frankenstein, Mary Shelley presents a powerful depiction of monstrous nature that is perceived to us through the use of: nature, context, contrast, perception, imagery and language in the novel. Through these devices and means, a bleak outlook of humanity as a whole is portrayed.

According to Fred Botting in, ‘Making Monstrous’ monsters often appear in political and literary writings as symbols of ‘a terrible threat to established orders’ and therefore ‘frequently emerge in revolutionary periods.’ In the case of Frankenstein, the context of the French revolution may have some bearing on the presentation of the creature, as it showed that brutality leads to brutality, and that people are often a product of the society they experience. The creature is neglected and maltreated, and therefore becomes bitter and vengeful. This leads us to conclude that through Shelley’s experiences during her lifetime, she believed the monstrous nature of Frankenstein’s creature was purely due to its neglect and abuse, making its actions, to an extent, no fault of its own.

Shelley uses nature and the environment to prophesise the arrival of the monstrous in the novel. Peter Brooks comments in ‘Godlike Science/Unhallowed Arts": Language, Nature, and Monstrosity’ that ‘virtually every time nature is invoked in the novel…it appears to produce only the monstrous.’ For example, When Frankenstein visits the site of William’s murder in Geneva, ‘The most violent storm hung exactly north of the town.’ The storm is then described as a ‘noble war in the sky.’ This reference to nature depicts a scene of chaos and hostility. This is then followed by the arrival of ‘the filthy daemon to whom I (Frankenstein) had given life.’ Shelley uses the power and fear invoked by nature to foreshadow the appearance of a monstrosity, in this case, the realization of the creature’s presence and its guilt in the murder of...
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