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Formalist Criticism of Frankenstein

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Group Three

on 20 November 2013

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Transcript of Formalist Criticism of Frankenstein

Formalist Criticism of Frankenstein

Activity One
Definitions of Cadence, Repetition and Imagery:
- rhythmic flow of a sequence of sounds or words
- repeated element or motif; reiteration
- words or written phrases that appeal to the senses.
Activity Two
Describe the

- Frankenstein & Creature
- Frankenstein & Elizabeth
- Creature & Cottagers
- Frankenstein & Clerval
- Frankenstein & Frankenstein Family
- Frankenstein & Walton
Activity Three
Look at handout.
Background Information
Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley, the prized author of
, was born on August 30, 1797 to William Godwin and Mary Wollstonecraft. Sadly, at eleven days old she became a child of a one parent family. Left to solely her father Mary became
attached to learning and the mystery of language
. At the young age of nineteen she wrote
on vacation with loved ones. Shortly after her first child’s death, Shelley had a dream believed to inspire the timeless piece. The small beginning of her story became a
pronounced Gothic novel in British history.
Shelley’s work will remain prominent in literature and continue to be read generation to generation.
• Frankenstein continually called the monster,
• Objectified the monster
• Never granted a name
• The monster was horrifically ugly
• No human will ever be able to accept his horrific appearance
• “His yellow skin scarcely covered the work of muscles and arteries beneath; his hair was a lustrous black, and flowing; his teeth of pearly whiteness; but these luxuriance only formed a more horrid contrast with his watery eyes, that seemed almost of the same color as the dun white sockets in which they were set, his shriveled complexion and straight black lips.”

Cadence of Other Characters
Elizabeth Lavenza:
• She speaks
and with kind words. She is an
and speaks with a
flare for the dramatics
• Her genuine disposition comes through in how she speaks.
• "‘Be happy, my dear Victor,’ replied Elizabeth; ‘there is, I hope, nothing to distress you; and be assured that if a lively joy is not painted in my face, my heart is contented. ‘” (Pg. 180)
Henry Clerval:
• Henry was well- educated and thoughtful, yet his speech was
not overly complicated
• He was highly
positive and optimistic
. “…but Clerval called forth the better feelings of my heart; he again taught me to love the aspect of nature, and the cheerful faces of children.” (Pg. 56)

• The Creature speaks with
• His diction and word choice are
stronger than those of Victor
in certain instances.
• His
angelic speech contrasts with his inhuman features
as well as his actions of violence.
• His words are believable because he does not keep any information hidden.
• " 'At this time a slight sleep relieved me from the pain of reflection, which was disturbed by the approach of a beautiful child, who came running into the recess I had chosen, with all the sportiveness of infancy.' "

• The Creature speaks about Frankenstein in a
manner. Throughout the story, he accuses Frankenstein of being an absent caretaker.
• The monster’s opinion of Victor does not change through the course of the novel. In fact, when Victor refuses to create another creature like him, the monster’s
hatred toward Victor increases.
• “He had abandoned me: and, the bitterness of my heart, I cursed him.”

Frankenstein & Creature
Frankenstein and his Creation are linked with a
relationship. On one level, the Creature is
to his creator. After being rejected by cottagers, the creature pleads for mercy and a favor. ‘You must create a female for me with whom I can live in the interchange of those sympathies necessary for my being. This you alone can do’” (Shelley 133). This signifies a submissive position within the Creature. Victor is the only person who can create a female companion for him. He believes that a female companion can allow him to interchange sympathies necessary to his being. In result, the Creature must be
with Victor, who is the only man with enough knowledge to create another of his kind. On another level, however, Frankenstein is submissive to his Creation because it is physically stronger than he and able to cause destruction without much effort. Ironically, their relationship is not set into a “
format. Frankenstein nor the Creature are considered heroes, but neither of them are
. Both of the characters are sympathized and condemned.
A big part of someone’s judgment of someone else is their appearance. This is portrayed as a key factor in the story. The
horrific appearance
of the Creature allows the conflict to begin between Frankenstein and the Monster in their relationship.

The Monster is described by Frankenstein as "His yellow skin scarcely covered the work of muscles and arteries beneath ... formed a horrid contrast with his watery eyes, that seemed almost of the same colour as the dun-white sockets in which they were set, his shriveled complexion and straight black lips… no mortal could support the horror of that countenance (44)". The horrid appearance of the Creature was a key factor that
allowed the plot to progress

Frankenstein & Elizabeth
The relationship between Frankenstein and Elizabeth portrays a "
men over women" perspective
. During the time that this piece was written, women were considered inferior to men. But the relationship in the piece portrayed a sense of
, rather than dominance. The night prior to Elizabeth’s adoption, Frankenstein’s mother tells him “I have a pretty present for my Victor—tomorrow he shall have it (Shelley 20).” His mother embedded the idea that Elizabeth
to Victor. In result, Victor emphasizes Elizabeth as more than a sister and states “
till death she was only to be mine
(21).” Their arranged marriage was known to both children. “You well know, Victor, that our union had been the favourite plan of your parents ever since our infancy…look forward to it as an event that would certainly take place. (161)” Victor views Elizabeth as a
pleasure that he deserves
. He states that “for myself there was one reward I promised myself from my detested toils it was the prospect of that day when I might claim Elizabeth (135).” Describing another human as a reward can be an “indication that Victor believes in ownership” (Jessica Fernquist).
Creature & Cottagers
The Creature does not obtain a true relationship with the Cottagers. A relationship
exists between two or more things
. “Like Adam,“ he says, “I was created apparently
united by no link
to any other being in existence“ (Shelley 117). In this case, the De Lacey family didn’t even know that the creature resided next to their cottage. But the Creature longed for a relationship with the family. His
view of love and companionship originated from watching the family
interact with one another. But unfortunately, when the Creature decides to establish as relationship with this family, they evacuate the cottage,
that the Creature will return.
Frankenstein & Clerval
Henry Clerval is one of the most important characters in the novel. Clerval is Frankenstein’s best and closet friend. This relationship has great importance to the text because Clerval is Frankenstein’s
. Although they are both doctors, Clerval is much more
in his ideas and the way he approaches the
curiosity of life
. Clerval tended to occupy himself “…with the moral relations of things” (23) and deeply “…read in books of chivalry and romance.” Unlike Clerval, Frankenstein becomes absorbed in the
part of science. Frankenstein researched heavily about the human body, ultimately allowing the creation of the Creature. In addition, Victor is constantly depressed, especially after the murder of William. However, Clerval tends to be a happy individual and always looks for beauty in things. Throughout the story, Clerval tended to be very
but Frankenstein was always arrogant. We see Frankenstein’s
when he will not take
for the Creature and what happened as a result of creating the Creature. Clerval kept Frankenstein from going insane while he was with him. When Clerval was not around, Frankenstein only thought about science and the mistake he made in creating the monster. When Clerval is killed, Frankenstein completely falls off the deep end. After Clerval’s death, Frankenstein tries to put his life back to normal but Elizabeth is killed soon after and he never really was sane again.
Frankenstein & Frankenstein Family
The relationship between Frankenstein and his family is a very
one. Frankenstein’s father loved Frankenstein but did not pay much attention to Frankenstein as he grew up. One particular event that is evidence of
partial neglect
is that, when Frankenstein began to read the books he found, his father looked at the book “carelessly” (24) and said that it was “sad trash” (24). Frankenstein concludes that if his father had “taken the pains” (24) to actually explain that the theories in those books had been since proven wrong, he would have thrown the book away and forgotten about it. Although this is true, later in the book, Frankenstein’s father helps him to get through hard times and encourages him to make family more important in his life. Frankenstein’s mother is also
to him. His mother is actually the one who saved Elizabeth, his future wife, from a family of peasants in Italy. As far as the relationship between Elizabeth and Frankenstein goes, Elizabeth is very
with him. She waits many years to marry Frankenstein while he chased his scientific dreams. Lastly, Frankenstein loved his younger brother very much. When William is killed, Frankenstein becomes very depressed. He is also burdened with a great amount of guilt because the murder of William was ultimately his fault. The Frankenstein family plays a key role in the story because they are the people that Frankenstein leans on for support. They are also the ones who are killed so that the Creature may get his vengeance. The fact that Frankenstein’s father was not a very intimate father and the patience of Elizabeth are evidence of the
time period
in which it was written.
Frankenstein & Walton
Walton is very important in Frankenstein because his letters set up the
Romantic aspect of scientific knowledge
, which has great
on characters later in the work. The letters at the beginning of the novel give us a characterization of both Walton and Frankenstein. They also give us a
between the two characters. In addition, the letters make the story more mysterious because they
events to occur later in the story and lead right into Frankenstein’s telling of the story. Walton and Frankenstein are very similar in many ways. One way in particular is that they both want to be
famous for discovering something scientific that will change the world
. They both go to great lengths trying to achieve their goals. Walton believed that it would have “inestimable benefit” to discover the “wondrous power which attracts the needle” (1). On the other hand, Frankenstein asked what “proceed[ed] the principle of life” and studied the ability of a person to live and die. We find that both Walton and Frankenstein were trying to
help society
in some way, but Frankenstein ended up taking it too far. In the beginning of the novel, Walton appears to be Frankenstein’s
. However, at the end, the ship is stuck in the ice for many days and the Creature ends up killing Frankenstein. Walton helps to connect the Frankenstein’s story to what happens at the end of the work.
Cadence Cont.
With these particular characters the cadence is relatively the same in lightness of tone. They're both motivators with nurturing personalities. In reference to these characters it is proven that
gender does not play a role
in one's cadence. Despite the fact the Elizabeth and Henry come from different backgrounds, Elizabeth seems to have a more eloquent speech even though Henry is more educated. One character's particular cadence reveals certain
aspects of their personality.
Repetition Cont.
• The Creature
yearned to be like Adam
, “a perfect creature”.
• However, he declared that
Satan was a closer
comparison to his true identity.
o He felt as if his Creator had forsaken him much like God banished Lucifer from Heaven.
• “Many times I considered Satan as the fitter emblem of my condition…”
Full transcript