Windows Are the Eyes to the Soul: Functioning Window Motif in Shelley’s Frankenstein

Topics: Frankenstein, Mary Shelley, Novel Pages: 4 (1282 words) Published: October 9, 2012
Throughout Frankenstein, Mary Shelley uses various reoccurring images. Motifs such as the moon, eyes, and fire are seen many times throughout and add a stronger sense of understanding to the novel. Although windows do not appear nearly as many times as these other images, their consistent placement in important scenes makes them notable in the text. By further examining the placement and context of window references, the reader can use this symbol as a tool to deepen the understanding of the relationship between Victor Frankenstein and the creature.

One of the reasons that windows are such a useful literary device in this novel is because they set up a physical barrier between Victor Frankenstein and his creation. The first appearance of a window takes place when the creature comes to Frankenstein’s apartment during the first time Victor sees the creature since the night of its awakening. The extreme horror that Victor felt was palpable: “I started from my sleep with horror; a cold dew covered my forehead, my teeth chattered, and every limb became convulsed; when, by the dim and yellow light of the moon, as it forced its way through the window shutters, I beheld the wretch...” (Shelley, 57). Because the creature decided to enter the room through the window, Victor was not able to observe him with the barrier of the window between them. Later in the novel, Victor gets a chance to look upon the monster with the aid of a window: “I trembled and my heart failed within me, when, on looking up, I saw by the light of the moon the demon at the casement” (159). While Victor is clearly still uneasy at the sight of the creature, it seems that the physicality of the window between them separates them to the point that the monster seems like scary. The observation taking place on either side of the window is important, by placing a physical barrier between the two, they can each without the greater danger that would exist if the window was not there.

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