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Motif of Light and Darkness in Mary Shelly's Frankenstein

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Introduction

Frankenstein Motif Journal - Section 2 (Ch. 9-17) - Light/ Darkness Quote 1: "This state of mind preyed upon my health, which had perhaps never entirely recovered from the first shock it had sustained. I shunned the face of man; all-sound of joy or complacency was torture to me; solitude was my only consolation -- deep, dark, deathlike solitude. My father observed with pain the alteration and endeavored by arguments deduced from the feelings of his serene conscience and to inspire me with fortitude, and awaken in me the courage to dispel the dark cloud, which brooded over me." (85) In this quote, Shelly generates sympathy toward Victor Frankenstein by means of word choice. "Observed pain" and " torture" uncovers a miserable state and hence creates a grievous and upsetting mood. The use of dark imagery through out the passage reveals a forlorn tone of narration. Shelly emphasizes on alliteration to paint a dark and gloomy picture of the situation. ...read more.

Middle

These verbs set a very melancholic mood through out the passage and thus exemplify the deep state of sorrow that the monster is in. The monster also mentions that " the light became more oppressive" which symbolizes and displays the dark side of knowledge and discovery. The word "oppressive" further connotes and foreshadows the creature's cruelty and thus, it also brings out the theme of dangerous knowledge presented by Shelly. Quote 3: "I wept bitterly, and clasping my hands in agony, I exclaimed, "Oh! Stars and clouds and winds, ye are all about to mock me; if ye really pity me, crush sensation and memory; let me become as nought; but if not, depart, depart, and leave me in darkness." (151) The monster portrays his remorse and is disgusted of his own existence. Light imagery like "stars" contrasts with dark imagery such as "agony" to create confusion which replicates the confusion experienced by the monster itself. ...read more.

Conclusion

The contrast between light and darkness is once again presented here by juxtaposing "light of the moon" next to "the demon". This juxtaposition of two opposites ideas reveals the theme of the dark side of light, that is, too much knowledge could prove to be dangerous. Quote 5: "I cherished hope, it is true; but it vanished when I beheld my person reflected in water, or my shadow in the moonshine, even as that frail image and that inconstant shade. I endeavored to crush these fears, and to fortify myself for the trial which in a few months I resolved to undergo; and sometimes I allowed my thoughts, unchecked by reason, to ramble in the fields of Paradise, and dared to fancy amiable and lovely creatures sympathizing with my feelings, and cheering my gloom; their angelic countenances breathed smiles of consolation." The monster's innermost thoughts are greatly emphasized by the contrast between light and darkness, and how the family is a ray of light for him. He envisions approaching them soon and hoping that they would reciprocate with their "angelic countenance", thus light symbolizing hope and darkness symbolizing despair. ...read more.

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