AS English Literature- Frankenstein Themes Revision

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  • Frankenstein Themes
    • Power and Ambition
      • Victor is completely possessed by knowledge and the desire for ultimate power. Desires to assert a god like power over people and to, "understand the creatures in which I seek".
      • Power and ambition are presented very differently in the novel through Clerval and Victor. Clerval is ambitious and driven to achieve his goals, yet does not sacrifice his sanity and health as a result of power. Contrasts greatly to Victor who is completely driven by power and ambition and in turn looses his sanity and his health suffers, forcing Clerval to sacrifice his ambitions. Shelley uses the dichotomy in the two characters to emphasize Victor's wrongdoings and to make the reader feel sympathy for Clerval, so subsequently feels unsympathetic towards Victor.
      • Frequently refers to the "yellow light" of the moon when nearing an accomplishment. Moon reflects the sense of power he feels at these climatic moments and the colour "yellow" and the "light" may be referring to a trophy, the award for his accomplishments.
    • Justice
      • Injustice Victor shows the creature contrasts greatly with the justice of God with Adam and Eve. God is merciful and loving towards his creation, yet Victor abandons him and makes him the ultimate outcast. God banished Adam and Eve from the garden, but he never completely abandoned them as Victor does with the creature.
      • "I was benevolent and good misery made me a friend". Social injustice from not only Victor but the rest of society makes him miserable. A critic suggests the creatures argument for just treatment is rooted in classical enlightenment values, values he may have learned through Paradise Lost and the other texts in the novel.
      • Justine's trial is referred to by Frankenstein as a "mockery of justice", showing the absurdity of the judicial system and the court. Shelley may have intentionally chosen Frankenstein to pick faults at the court to show that if even the one character in the novel who is guilty and void of sense of justice towards the creature later in the novel, can point as flaws within the court, it shows just how horrendous the judicial system must be.
    • Presentation of Women
      • Elizabeth- completely unconventional woman for the time. Voices her beliefs, goes against social norms for women, yet is still perceived as "angelic" by Victor. May be used to accentuate his insanity, or used to show that women of the time were right to have a voice and to not be afraid to buckle under the oppressions of society.
      • Victor saw Elizabeth as his property, "I looked upon Elizabeth as mine... possession of my own". Reflects the views of the typical man in society. Women were merely property for men and only useful for child birth.
      • Justine in court reflects the vulnerability of women in society. How an innocent woman could be driven to "confess, but I confessed a lie" shows that women were overwhelmed by their stereotypical requirements, so much to the point that they were "threatened and menaced until I began to think I was the monster he said I was".
      • Margaret- a feminist critic would say that women within Frankenstein were deemed the  means to an end in the sense their presence is needed for the male characters. Margaret is not a physical character in the novel, but it is because of her that we hear of the story in the first place, showing women are pivotal not only in the novel but also in society as, Shelley shows they help to move the plot along, this could be used to show they help society progress.
      • Shelley's mother was a famous feminist writer who was known for voicing her beliefs about the issues of equality and justice for women. The character of Elizabeth may be used to represent the influence Shelley's mother had over her. Elizabeth has a greater degree of control over Victor than most other characters in the novel, and this could show the influence her mothers writings and ideas had on her. Shelley in her novel may be using the character of Elizabeth to build upon her mothers ideas.
    • Relationships
      • "I ought to be thy Adam, but I am thy fallen angel"- Victor should be a paternal influence for the creature and should be as God was to Adam, especially considering Victor endeavoured to "mock the physical world with its own shadows", yet he abandons the creature and threatens to kill it, "Begone, vile creature, begone!".
      • "I desire the company of a man who could sympathise with me; whose eyes would reply to mine"- these were Victors motivations for creating the creature, and this adds to the surprise of the reader when Victor abandons him. He seeks such company not only in the creature, but in Henry, who he develops a great fondness for.
      • The three narrative voices in the novel are all similar in the sense they desire the same things as one another, the company of a man and the desire for a friend. This desire for companionship motivates all three characters in their drives and ambitions.
    • Doppelgangers
      • Doppelganger in Victor and the creature- Frankenstein is the scarier side of the doppelganger, feelings of resentment from their childhood mean they can't survive without each other. The creature, the scarier one upon appearance, is the more nurturing, humane one the two, which implies he may be Frankenstein's conscience. The two characters are linked to give the full spectrum of what is happening, and the stark antithesis in the characters shows it is not from a biased, one sided perspective.
      • Doppelganger in Clerval and Victor- intellectual doppelganger, study completely opposite sides of science(Clerval studies prober science, Victor studies corrupted science, eg Galvanism). Clerval is very optimistic and Victor pessimistic, yet when Clerval is with Victor, Victor sees everything in a more optimistic way. He reveals the slightly more optimistic, loving side of Victor.
      • Literary links with doppelgangers- Rime of the Ancient Mariner, referred to in novel, doppelganger haunts main character(as the creature haunts Frankenstein) because the main character is obsessed with knowledge and haunted by guilt.
      • Literary links with doppelgangers- Paradise lost, Victor and the creature are two people who share the same mind. Victor created the creature through his own image, just like God in Paradise Lost.
    • Weather
      • Pathetic falasey has an important influence over thee characters. Victor and the creature both escape to the lake when enduring suffering and they go to reflect on themselves. This is fitting as the reflective quality of the water reflects the true inner nature of the characters.
      • Victor's relationship with nature is very conflicting, as he seeks comfort in nature, this can be seen when he escapes to the mountains and the lake, however he is constantly trying to defy it. This shows that his obsession and drive to exceed all that is close to him shows his insanity and how unhealthy his relationships are, making us less open to trusting him as a character and making us unsympathetic towards him.


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