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Frankenstein - Chapters 1 & 2.

Extracts from this document...

Introduction

Frankenstein: Chapters 1 & 2 A first impression of Walton would be to say that he is extremely ambitious. He desires to go to the North Pole to "accomplish some great purpose". He has his own theories on what should be there, and will not rest until he has proved them. This is somewhat a 'Godlike' ambition, in that he wishes to be praised for discovering something new which will benefit everyone else in the world. The language used is also very much like Old Testament, Biblical; "Heaven shower down blessings on you". The image of Walton being 'Godlike' is enhanced by this. However, he is disrespectful of his family, as he goes against his fathers "dying injunction", which had "forbidden" him from embarking on a "seafaring life". He seems to be very egocentric, and not aware of anyone else or their feelings. He is deliberately disobeying his father to pursue a personal ambition. He is leaving his sister in England, and at the end of each letter he writes that he may not see her again, "Farewell my dear, excellent Margaret", "Remember me with affection, should you never hear from me again". Each time she receives a letter from him, she will be hopeful of his return and safety, and then he writes "Shall I meet you again?". This is selfish of him, as it will worry her even more about his expedition. Again this 'Godlike' theme reoccurs as he is doing what he wants to do. Having only been educated about this passion through his own reading, he cannot really be sure of what he will discover once he reaches his destination. His beliefs that "snow and frost are banished" from the North Pole seem as eccentric as believing that the earth is flat. But of course he doesn't see it this way, he needs to prove his own theory. After failing at being a poet he doesn't want to fail as a scientist and explorer either. ...read more.

Middle

As well, credit is given to formal aspects of the work, the "excellence of its style and language" as well as "its originality, excellence of language, and peculiar interest". Though this review was brief, and did little more than summarize the book for interested readers of the time, it did what many others did not, in that it focused on Frankenstein as an original work that offered something new to readers of the time. Further reviews, from sources such as Blackwood's Edinburgh Magazine allowed the author, whose identity was not known for certain at the time, some small leeway in their criticisms. Though they too agreed that the formal style of Frankenstein was unique and praiseworthy, strictly mimetic theories are taken into account in matters they consider inconsistent within the novel, particularly as they pertain to the nature of the monster. It is looked upon as non-reflective of the way of the real world, that a monster such as that should be able to roam the country side unnoticed for so long, or learn to speak and enjoy novels such as Paradise Lost or Plutarch's Lives. This sentiment is echoed in The Belle Assemblee's review, calling it "prolix and unnatural". One of the recurrent themes in early critical reception of the novel was the morality, or perceived lack thereof, within the work. The Quarterly Review, proffered a particularly harsh review, going so far as to say it "inculcates no lesson of conduct, manners, or morality; it cannot mend, and will not amuse its readers, unless their taste have been deplorably vitiated". This review, like many others of the era, was very concerned with the final message imparted to the audience, which follows the strong rhetorical tradition of the times. What was lost on these reviewers however, and seems to be clear to many modern day reviews of the work, is that there is a clear and strong moral message ingrained in the text. ...read more.

Conclusion

Colleen Devlin2 states, plucked out of thin air. The idea of reanimating corpses was a subject of scientific study at the time. What some attributed to a diseased mind was in fact an "indictment of the hubris of modern science." In this way, it can be seen that early expressive criticisms of what the author brought to the work had missed the mark, as had rhetorical criticisms of the morality being imparted to readers, since it does seem clear that Shelley had been speaking against the monstrous acts displayed in her tale, and the presumptive nature of men like Victor Frankenstein, who thought to dabble in the realm of gods. From 1818 to the present, many methods and underlying principles of criticism have remained the same. While every Period seems to have its predominant theory, each one will be linked in some way to one or more other theories, for in any analysis, aspects of the rhetorical often will encompass expressive theories or mimetic, and formal theories are very nearly integral as well. How these critical theories are applied differs over the course of time as critical theory expands and new perspectives are borne. The rise of psychoanalytic, feminist and other theories certainly shaped how later critics read the text of Shelley's work. Critics of the present day have been able to form more in-depth analyses of the text that go beyond the very basic analyses of those from the time of Frankenstein's publication, due to the more widely available information about the life of author, Mary Shelley, as well as more insight into varying theories and how they can all be applied to a given work. Moreover, the significant presence of the science fiction genre in today's literature and a wider range of experimentation within novels has left today's critics in a position to be less shocked and offended by a novel, thereby allowing them to give a more impartial critical assessment of a work than was the case when Frankenstein was first published while going beyond the limits of preliminary formal, expressive, mimetic and rhetorical theories. ...read more.

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