"Frankestein" Mary Shelley. This passage then is the beginning of the monsters narrative, and in it he recalls what he calls the original era of my being, explaining how he first became aware of his existence. The reader is presente
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Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus, Mary Shelley (1818) Background The daughter of the philosopher Mary Wollstonecraft, Mary Shelley had a considerable output in her own right, as a novelist, dramatist, essayist and travel writer. Having married the renowned Romantic poet Percy Bysshe Shelley in 1816, Mary Shelley spent the summer in Switzerland in the company of a circle of Romantic writers that included Lord Byron. During this stay she conceived a story that she would later expand into the novel Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus (1818). The novel relates the tale of Victor Frankenstein, a scientist whose artificial life experiment creates an unnamed monster. The author employs an embedded narrative technique: the book purports to be a collection of letters written by Captain Robert Walton, who finds Frankenstein on a voyage to the Arctic. These letters include the story that Frankenstein tells him, and within this embedded narrative is a further embedded narrative, as Frankenstein recounts the story told by the monster. This extract, Chapter XI, is the monster's story. Introduction Mary Shelley's Frankenstein; or, the Modern Prometheus (henceforth Frankenstein)
All of the monster's needs are met by nature, which is presented by Shelley as nourishing and protective. Each time that the monster becomes aware of a need, help is provided by nature. So it is that nature provides him with a place to sleep (ln. 15), and then food (ln. 17) and water (ln. 18). Later when cold, the monster finds a "huge cloak" (ln. 30) with which to cover himself. This relationship is made more explicit later in the passage where the active form is used to imply a will behind nature's provision - "the clear stream that provided me with drink and the trees that shaded me with their foliage" (lns. 37-38). Part of his growing comprehension - shared by the reader - is a proper understanding of nature as a provider. b) Moreover, nature not only meets physical needs but also provides aesthetic delight to the monster. Again the active form is used to bestow nature with a benevolent will, with personification emphasising the technique: "various scents saluted me" (lns. 34), with the verb repeated though this time with birdsong as the subject (ln.
Remember she was only 18 at the time of writing, and that Frankenstein was her first novel. Ultimately then, the creation myth is also a record of the writer's attempt to create. Conclusion A striking passage in which the monster, who up until this point in the book has only been described by Victor Frankenstein in his narration, is given the power of a narrative voice. What is most immediately interesting is that this allows Shelley to present the reader with an account of a being's creation told by the being itself. Thus using a metaphor of illumination, we see how the monster gradually understands more and more of his environment, and also that he must satisfy his physical needs. Shelley presents nature as a benevolent provider that not only feeds, shelters and warms the monster, but also provides him with solace and delight. Such themes fit with the Romantic view of nature as a source of wonder, whilst also playing on religious ideas of a benevolent provider and creation. Ultimately it is through an analysis of this archetypal dimension of the creation story that we can consider the parallel drawn between creation within the diegesis of Frankenstein and between the creative act of writing the work itself.
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