THE MODERN PROMETHEUS
A Classic Novel Analysis
Inojales, Angel May E.
DR. DANILO B. SOLAYAO
In partial fulfilment of the requirement in
English 7- World Literature
Saint Michael’s College of Laguna
1st semester 2012-2013
A. Title of the Book: Frankenstein or The Modern Prometheus
B. Author: Mary Shelley
C. Publisher: Simon and Schuster Inc.
D. Place of Publication: 1230 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10020 II. Introduction:
Before reading the novel “Frankenstein” I’m thinking of a somewhat like a boring situation I will experience since I thought that it was not interesting at all. Upon the progress of my reading, I never thought that I’d be enjoying it and found myself excited of what was going to happen next. I really enjoyed it to the extent that I’d just set aside my other subjects because I pre-occupied myself reading it. After reading, I was amazed by how wild the imagination did the author have that she came up such a very fine and exquisite work of literature. I was really fascinated and found myself idolizing the author Mary Shelley for such a very excellent novel she had published.
III. Author’s biography:
Mary Wollstonecraft Godwin was born in 1797 into the most celebrated intellectual and literary marriage of the day. Her mother, Mary Wollstonecraft, was among the most influential Enlightenment radicals, and wrote passionately and persuasively for the rights of women, most famously in a Vindication of the Rights of Woman (1972). Her father, William Godwin, was a celebrated philosopher and writer who believed in man’s individual perfection and ability to reason. His best- known work, The Enquiry Concerning Political Justice, and it’s Influence on General Virtue and happiness, was published in 1793. Young Mary never knew her mother, who died of complications from her birth. Godwin, also raising Wollstonecraft’s other daughter, Fanny Imlay, needed a mother for his girls and found one in Mary Jane Clairmont, the unmarried mother of two. Clairmont was jealous of the attention paid to her notable stepdaughter and favoured her own children, making life at home difficult for young Mary, who was often whipped for impertinence and found solace reading or taking her meals at her mother’s grave. Although she received no formal education, growing up in William Godwin’s house provided ample opportunities for learning, with its well-stocked library and frequent visits from the great minds of the time. When relations between his wife and daughter became intolerable, Godwin sent Mary to live with his friends the Baxters in Scotland in 1812, where she enjoyed her first taste of domestic harmony. That year she briefly met the newly married Percy Bysshe Shelley, a noted young romantic poet and ardent follower of Godwin’s philosophy. She returned to her father’s home in 1814, where Shelley was a frequent visitor. The tow fell in love, and with Mary’s stepsister Jane Clairmont, ran off to the continent. The couple’s first child was born prematurely in 1815 and survived only a few weeks, and their second child was born in early 1816. Claire began an affair with another famous young poet, Lord Byron, and the four passed the unusually cold summer of 1816 together on the shores of Lake Geneva. They stayed by the fire talking and telling ghost stories, and Percy, Byron, and Mary decided to see who could write the most frightening tale. Mary’s tale became the basis for Frankenstein. Percy’s wife, Harriet, drowned herself in November 1816, and Percy and Mary married in December. Mary published Frankenstein anonymously in 1818, but since Percy had written the Preface and the book was dedicated of being the book’s author. Tragedy followed the Shelley's as the e third child, Clara, died in 1818 and their second child, William, died in 1819, and gave birth to her fourth child Percy Florence, in November. She suffered a miscarriage in June 1822, and the following month Percy drowned in his boat sank in a storm in the Gulf of Spezia, near Genoa, leaving her a widow at the age of twenty-four. Mary continued to write for the rest of her life. Her second novel, Valperga; or, the Life and adventures of Castruccio, Prince of Lucca, and found success after it was published in 1823. Other works of fiction include The Last Man (1826), The Fortunes of Perkin Warbeck, a Romance (1830), Ladore (1835), and Falkner, a Novel (1837); Lives of the Most Eminent Literary and Scientific Men of Italy, Spain, and Portugal and Lives of The Most Eminent Literary and Scientific Men of France were published in 1835 and 1838, respectively. An account of her European travels with her surviving son in the 1840s was published in two volumes under the title Rambles in Germany and Italy in 1840, 1842, and 1843 (1844). She lived with her son and his family until she died, in 1851, at the age of fifty- three.
On an expedition to the North Pole, English explorer Robert Walton and his crew find the wreak and weary Victor Frankenstein stranded among the ice floes. They rescue the stranger, who in time tells wanton the story of how he became to be travelling alone in the Arctic. Walton relays the tale in letters to his sister, Margaret Saville, in England. Born into a wealthy Swiss family, victor enjoyed an idyllic childhood with kind, loving, ideal parents. His father, Alphonse, took in the daughter of a dear friend after she was orphaned, and they eventually fell in love and were married. He is generous and dotes on his wife, Caroline, who in turn shares her good fortune with care and charity in the poor community near their home in Geneva. Elizabeth Lavenza, the daughter of Alphonse’s sister, comes to live with the Frankensteins after her mother dies. Caroline adores the girl and treats her as a daughter while hoping that she and Victor will someday marry. Victor has two younger brothers – Ernest and William- and a close friend named Henry Clerval. The friends have different interests: Victor in Science and Henry in history. When he is seventeen and preparing to go to the university in Ingolstadt, Victor’s mother dies of scarlet fever. On her deathbed, she tells Victor and Elizabeth that it is her greatest wish that the two will be married. Victor arrives in Ingolstadt grieving for his mother, and he becomes obsessed with anatomy and discovering the principle of life. When he becomes “capable of bestowing animation upon lifeless matter ’’, he sets to building a creature from pieces of dead bodies to endow with life. After working and neglecting his family for nearly a year, he completes his work and is immediately horrified by the huge, ugly monster. He flees from his laboratory and returns the next day to find the creature gone. Anxiety about the creature brings on a nervous fever that lasts for months, during which Victor’s friend Henry takes care of him. The friends spend two years together at school when word arrives from Geneva that Victor’s youngest brother William, has been murdered. On his way home, he catches an unmistakable glimpse of his eight-foot-tall creation, and realizes that the monster is the murderer. He learns that Justine, a member of the household through a servant, is accused of the murder. He knows she is innocent, yet he dares not tell anyone about his creation, so he does nothing to save Justine from being convicted and hanged. Victor’s guilt, the monster’s rage at being rejected by society and his parent, and the growing loneliness and anger both Victor and the monster feel lock them into a nightmarish struggle involving murder, betrayal and revenge. Oddly, the tragedy of the story is not that the hatred shared by two living beings caused such suffering around them, but that their love for each other- though real- could never be expressed or admitted.
Question 1: Explain the title. How appropriate is it?
Answer 1: Frankenstein is a model for gothic fiction and all the horror novels that followed it. Weaving the gothic elements of the supernatural, terror, anguish and love with the romantic values of nature and individualism. Victor Frankenstein continues to represent the destruction that scientists try to avoid as well as the genius artists strive to achieve. Question 2: Characterize the main protagonist of the story. Who among them impressed you most? Why? Answer 2: Victor Frankenstein. The novel’s protagonist and narrator of the main portion of the story, is a man of science doomed by his own arrogance and lack of humanity. He starts as an innocent, happy youth fascinated by the promise of science and turns into a wretched, guilt- ridden man bent on revenge. I was impressed upon how his obsession to create life-and the monster that became his legacy. Question 3: Which part/ chapter of the novel do you like most? Elaborate. Answer 3: The chapter that I like best was in Volume II, Chapter II. It was when Victor Frankenstein/the creator and his monster creation had finally met after the crime which the latter had committed. The cause of death to his younger brother- William. Victor Frankenstein cursed his own creation and said he had regretted the day he had created the daemon. The daemon then told his creator that he was benevolent, his soul glowed with love and humanity but he is miserably alone because his own creator abhorred him and by that he could not gain hope from his creator’s fellow creator. In this chapter also we can conclude that man’s physical appearance although in this fiction the character is just a product of science invention, can relate to real life situation on how it greatly affects other beings that leads them to wretchedness and a feeling of isolation. Thus, they commit crimes out of frustration. Question 4: Cite at least five quotation/lines/dialogues from that novel that show symbolism/figures of speech. Explain the meaning of each.
1. The wind fanned the fire, and the cottage was quickly enveloped by the flames, which clung to it, and licked it with their forked and destroying tongues. -PERSONIFICATION.
2. We rest; a dream has power to poison sleep. We rise; one wand ring thought pollutes the day. We feel, conceive, or reason, laugh, or weep, Embrace fond woe, or cast our cares away - ALLITERATION.
3. Like one who, on a lonely road, doth walk in fear and dread, And, having once turned around, walks on, and turns no more his head, because he knows a frightful fiend doth close behind him tread. -SIMILE.
4. I gradually saw plainly the dear stream that supplied me with drink, and the trees that shaded me with their foliage. -PERSONIFICATION.
5. “This suspense is a thousand times worse than the most horrible event: tell me what new scene of death has been acted, and whose murder I am now to lament. -HYPERBOLE.
QUESTION 5: Identify the novels:
Victor’s mother dies.
Victor’s way of grieving his mother’s death is to get obsessed with death and to bring something dead, or rather, a compilation of many dead something's, back to life. Adding conflict to conflict, the monster is really, really, ridiculously ugly. By playing God, Victor has gotten more than he had bargained for. He has created this conflict for himself. And now he will suffer for it. The monster is unhappy with his life and kills William.
Victor’s monster is out of control. This was slightly unexpected. And it complicated matters. Again, this is Victor’s own doing; if he hadn’t neglected his creation, his creation wouldn’t have gone on a killing spree. b. Tone
Although there are elements of realism in the text, particularly in regards to descriptions of nature’s effects, the story is also ancient what with all the supernatural and creepy events. Further, the things that happen are sad. People die. That’s tragic. The biggest tragedy is that the most human character, the monster, has no outlet for his feelings of benevolence towards humanity. Things also seem to be predestined once a singular act sets them in motion, so that would indicate a certain sense of fatalism here, too. c. Style
The gothic tradition highlights the fantastic, relies on mysterious and remote settings, and is intended to evoke fear. All of these qualities are evident in Mary Shelley's Frankenstein. The "monster" around which the novel revolves is itself a product of Victor Frankenstein's attraction to the grotesque, which results in deformity and deviation. The monster towers over other human beings. While he has a good soul, he strikes fear in all who lay eyes on him. The fine settings within the novel are striking and distinctively gothic. Appropriately, the creature first breathes on a "dreary night of November." Victor creates his monster in a remote laboratory at Ingolstadt, while the second "monster" is begun in a desolate area of Scotland. Elizabeth is killed on a stormy night, the perfect time for a dramatic murder. QUESTION 6: What are your feelings toward the conclusion of the story? Expound. ANSWER 6: His words had a strange effect upon me. I compassionated him, and sometimes felt a wish to console him; but when I looked upon him, when I saw the filthy mass that moved and talked, my heart sickened, and my feelings were altered to those of horror and hatred. I tried to stifle these sensations; I thought that, as I could not sympathise with him, I had no right to withhold from him the small portion of happiness which was yet in my power to bestow. QUESTION 7: If you were the author, how would you have ended the novel? Explain. ANSWER 7: If given a chance to end the story I would probably not be putting Victor to death and rather Elizabeth. Instead, I will expound their love story on how they will continue their lives together without the other important people in their lives this time around. VII. CONCLUSIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS:
1. What insights/lessons/moral values/ timeless and universal pieces of human experiences have you gained from reading the novel? Immortality has long been a goal of many humans and stories of it have intrigued people for ages. Stories like this are examples of the human obsession with the notion of immortality.Frankenstein are another one of these stories. The idea that life can be created from something lifeless is an intriguing notion to a race that has long been fascinated with the idea that life could be eternal. This intriguing concept lies at the surface of the novel, and is only one reason why this novel has enjoyed continuing success. 2. Would you recommend this book/novel to a friend? Why? Why not? I would probably recommend this novel to a friend because it was such a job well done on Mary Shelley’s part. This novel rests its claim on being powerful and profound emotion. The sentiments are so affectionate and so innocent- the characters are clothed in the light of such a mild and gentle mind – the picture of the most plain and simple and attaching character. Frankenstein is unexpectedly diverted to the monster that, it would seem, is wicked only because he is eternally divorced from human society.