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Book Analysis

Analysis of "Frankenstein’s" Fifth Chapter - Shreya Sachdev

The small passage that is situated at the beginning of Chapter 5 in the world famous novel, Frankenstein, has an enormous impact on the reader because of how literal Mary Shelley, the author has decided to convey Victor Frankenstein’s feelings and emotions in this extract. The narrator in this passage is indeed, Victor Frankenstein who is introduced as a brilliant scientist on a mission to expand life spans by hundreds by creating life out of inanimate objects. Victor thinks of this as a service to humanity as he is creating a "new human.”

This passage at the beginning of Chapter Five is so pivotal and engrossing because of the message and description that happens before this passage. Before this passage, the audience is completely brainwashed into thinking that Victor’s creation is going to be a revolutionary invention and has the audience clinging on to their feet waiting to see what happens but then comes this sudden plot twist, where Victor Frankenstein is absolutely revolted and disgusted by the way his creation has turned out to be. The way Victor Frankenstein uses phrases like “How can I describe my emotions at this catastrophe, or how delineate the wretch whom with such infinite pains and care I had endeavored to form? His limbs were in proportion, and I had selected his features as beautiful. Beautiful! Great God! His yellow skin scarcely covered the work of muscles and arteries beneath; his hair was of a lustrous black, and flowing; his teeth of a pearly whiteness; but these luxuriances only formed a more horrid contrast with his watery eyes, that seemed almost of the same colour as the dun-white sockets in which they were set, his shrivelled complexion and straight black lips” gives the audience such a precise, disturbing image of just how ugly this creature must look because of the gothic corporeal imagery that Mary Shelley uses.

Immediately, the image of this monster is stuck in the audience’s brain which just makes the reader want to keep on reading. The general meaning and purpose of this passage is sentiment that Victor feels about his creation. Victor describes his creation in full detail as "beautiful" yet repulsive with his "yellow skin,""lustrous black, and flowing" hair, and teeth of "pearly whiteness." Victor describes the monster's eyes, considered the windows upon the soul, as "watery eyes, that seemed almost the same colour as the dun-white sockets in which they were set, his shrivelled complexion and straight black lips." I believe that in a way, this passage fits in the idea of Victor Frankenstein being a small, ignorant little man who judges people by their appearance. The fact that he had devoted two years to sleepless nights and exhaustion to complete his project, and the moment that his creation isn’t how he wanted it to be, he completely runs away abandoning a piece of him. At this point, the audience is disgusted by the way Victor Frankenstein reacts because of his bipolarness. Victor Frankenstein says “ I had worked hard for nearly two years, for the sole purpose of infusing life into an inanimate body. For this I had deprived myself of rest and health. I had desired it with an ardour that far exceeded moderation; but now that I had finished, the beauty of the dream vanished, and breathless horror and disgust filled my heart. Unable to endure the aspect of the being I had created, I rushed out of the room and continued a long time traversing my bedchamber, unable to compose my mind to sleep. At length lassitude succeeded to the tumult I had before endured, and I threw myself on the bed in my clothes, endeavouring to seek a few moments of forgetfulness.” Which is a rather intense, deep description and has the potential to break the audience’s heart when they try and understand why exactly Victor Frankenstein is so petrified. When we come to the idea of what the author is trying to accomplish in this passage, I believe that Mary Shelley’s goal is not to show everybody that Victor Frankenstein is an idiotic, arrogant man that is only open to beauty and nothing else, but rather keep us hung on to this book.

Mary Shelley succeeds in leaving a breathtaking cliffhanger with the literary technique, foreshadowing, also using diction helps the audience to capture the moment and make them feel as if they are part of their story because of how specific the words are. Another way Mary Shelley advances the plot is the characterisation of the monster because of how she describes him reaching out, which is a cliche sign of asking for comfort and safety. It is a fact that everybody has heard of the regular, somebody being judged by their looks stereotype and so when the monster reaches out for protection, it gives the audience a sense that the theme may be linked to that.  This again invites us to read on and on because now we start to feel a bit of empathy and the need to protect this poor creature since that is human nature. In conclusion, this rich passage present in the beginning of Chapter Five has definitely made an impact on the reader because of all these constructive literal strategies that Mary Shelley has used.

Shreya Sachdev