Motif of Light and Darkness in Mary Shelly's Frankenstein

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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.  Shelly elaborates the Victor Frankenstein’s feeling at that point by unraveling his solitude to being “deep, dark, deathlike”. The repetition of the sound ‘d’ adds to the melancholic mood. Darkness in Frankenstein symbolizes despair. Shelly furthers the idea of Frankenstein’s upcoming upheavals and foreshadows his dangers by using dark imagery.  Victor Frankenstein’s willingness to overcome these dangers is also presented by means of Victor wanting to inspire himself “with fortitude” to fight against the turmoil that is to be experienced by Victor Frankenstein.

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Quote 2: Darkness then came over me, and troubled me; but hardly had I felt this, when, by opening my eyes, the light poured in upon me again. I walked, and, I believe, descended; but I presently found a great alteration in my sensations. Before, dark and opaque bodies had surrounded me, impervious to my touch or sight; but I now found that I could wander on at liberty, with no obstacles, which I could not either surmount or avoid. The light became more and more oppressive to me, and the heat wearying me as I ...

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