Frankenstein, or, the Modern Prometheus

Frankenstein, or, the Modern Prometheus
By Mary Shelley

“Frankenstein, or, the Modern Prometheus” is a masterpiece of Gothic literature that explores the dangers of ambition and the consequences of playing God. Mary Shelley skillfully employs various literary devices such as symbolism, foreshadowing, and allusion to create a hauntingly beautiful tale of horror and despair that continues to captivate readers even after two centuries.”

Themes 📚

  1. Ambition: The novel explores the dangers of ambition and the consequences of trying to play God, as Victor Frankenstein’s desire for knowledge and power ultimately leads to his downfall.
  2. Isolation: The novel examines the theme of isolation and loneliness, as Victor and the monster both struggle with feelings of isolation and loneliness as a result of their actions.
  3. Nature vs. Nurture: The novel questions whether a person’s nature is determined by their upbringing and environment or by their inherent qualities, as the monster’s actions are shaped by his experiences and treatment by others.
  4. Responsibility: The novel emphasizes the theme of responsibility and the need to take responsibility for one’s actions, as Victor must confront the consequences of his creation and the monster must confront the consequences of his actions.
  5. Revenge: The novel explores the theme of revenge, as the monster seeks revenge against his creator for abandoning him and leaving him to suffer alone.
  6. Humanity: The novel questions what it means to be human and explores the humanity of the monster, as he demonstrates emotions and desires that are typically associated with humans.

Use of Literary Devices ✍🏽

  1. Epistolary structure: The novel is structured as a series of letters and narratives, creating a sense of immediacy and intimacy with the characters.
  2. Foreshadowing: The author uses foreshadowing to give readers hints of what is to come, creating a sense of tension and anticipation. For example, the monster’s creation is foreshadowed by Victor’s feverish nightmares.
  3. Imagery: The novel is full of vivid descriptions and images that create a strong emotional impact on readers. For example, the descriptions of the monster’s appearance and actions create a sense of horror and disgust.
  4. Allusion: Shelley makes references to other works of literature and historical events to add depth and complexity to the story. For example, the subtitle “The Modern Prometheus” alludes to the Greek myth of Prometheus, who created humans and gave them fire.
  5. Irony: The author uses irony to create a contrast between what is expected and what actually happens. For example, Victor’s pursuit of knowledge and power leads to his own destruction and misery.
  6. Metaphor: Shelley uses metaphors to compare different things and draw connections between them. For example, the monster is metaphorically described as a fallen angel, representing his isolation and alienation from humanity.
  7. Personification: The author uses personification to give human qualities to non-human things. For example, the natural world is personified as a character with its own emotions and desires.
  8. Repetition: Shelley uses repetition to emphasize certain ideas and create a sense of rhythm and structure in the story. For example, the repeated use of the word “miserable” emphasizes the monster’s suffering and isolation.
  9. Symbolism: The novel uses various symbols to represent ideas and themes. For example, the monster’s appearance symbolizes the danger of judging others based on their appearance.
  10. Flashback: The author uses flashbacks to provide background information and develop the characters and their motivations. For example, Victor’s childhood experiences with lightning and electricity foreshadow his later obsession with creating life.

Examples of Literary Devices 📋

1. Foreshadowing

Foreshadowing EventDescriptionSignificance
Victor’s interest in alchemyVictor’s fascination with alchemy and the mysteries of lifeForeshadows his creation of the Creature and the tragic consequences that follow
Walton’s ambitionWalton’s desire for fame and knowledge in his lettersForeshadows Victor’s similar obsession and serves as a warning
The Creature’s threatsThe Creature’s promise to be with Victor on his wedding nightForeshadows the murder of Victor’s bride, Elizabeth

2. Symbolism

The CreatureVictor’s monstrous creationRepresents the consequences of unchecked ambition and mankind’s capacity for both good and evil
Light and fireThe dual nature of scientific discovery and knowledgeSymbolizes the potential for both enlightenment and destruction
The Arctic landscapeThe desolate, frozen setting of the novel’s frame narrativeServes as a metaphor for the characters’ emotional isolation and the destructive nature of obsession

3. Imagery

Imagery TypeExampleSignificance
VisualThe grotesque appearance of the CreatureHighlights the horror of Victor’s creation and its impact on both the Creature and society
EmotionalVictor’s guilt and despair following the deaths of his loved onesDeepens the reader’s understanding of Victor’s torment and the novel’s tragic tone
SensoryThe sublime landscapes of the Swiss Alps and the ArcticEvokes the novel’s Romantic themes of nature and human emotion

4. Motif

The pursuit of knowledgeThe characters’ thirst for understanding and mastery of the natural worldExplores the potential dangers of unchecked ambition and the moral implications of scientific discovery
Nature vs. nurtureThe Creature’s development and treatment by societyRaises questions about the role of environment in shaping one’s character and moral compass
Isolation and lonelinessThe emotional isolation experienced by both Victor and the CreatureExamines the destructive consequences of loneliness and the human need for connection

5. Irony

Type of IronyExampleSignificance
Dramatic ironyThe reader’s awareness of the Creature’s innocence and capacity for goodnessCreates sympathy for the Creature and intensifies the tragedy of his rejection
Situational ironyVictor’s creation of life leading to the destruction of his own lifeEmphasizes the tragic consequences of his actions and the dangers of playing God
Verbal ironyThe Creature’s eloquence and education, despite his monstrous appearanceChallenges the reader’s expectations and underscores the novel’s themes of prejudice and humanity

6. Allusion

The Modern PrometheusThe novel’s subtitle referencing the Greek myth of PrometheusDraws a parallel between Victor’s creation and the myth, emphasizing the dangers of overreaching ambition
Literary referencesAllusions to works such as “Paradise Lost” and “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner”Deepens the novel’s thematic complexity and situates it within the Romantic literary tradition

FAQs 💭

What literary devices are used in “Frankenstein, or, the Modern Prometheus”?

“Frankenstein, or, the Modern Prometheus” makes use of several literary devices, including symbolism, foreshadowing, allusion, and metaphor.

What is the role of symbolism in the novel?

Symbolism is used to convey deeper meanings and themes in the novel. For example, the monster is often interpreted as a symbol of the dangers of scientific progress and unchecked ambition.

How is foreshadowing used in the novel?

Foreshadowing is used to hint at the tragic events that will occur later in the novel, such as the deaths of William and Justine. This creates a sense of tension and unease for the reader.

What allusions are made in the novel?

The novel makes several allusions to other works of literature, including Milton’s “Paradise Lost” and Coleridge’s “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner.” These allusions add layers of meaning and complexity to the narrative.

How is metaphor used in the novel?

Metaphor is used to convey complex ideas and emotions, such as the monster’s feelings of isolation and loneliness. For example, the monster compares himself to Adam in “Paradise Lost,” emphasizing his sense of being an outsider.