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Sympathy in Mary Shelley's Frankenstein

Powerful Essays
Sympathy in Mary Shelley's Frankenstein

In her novel, 'Frankenstein', Mary Shelley employs many innovative

literary techniques to invoke feelings of sympathy for the monster.

Sympathy is created by the author both by making the readers pity the

monster’s loathsome existence and by leading them to understand his

violent and cruel actions. We pity the creature because of the way he

is treated by mankind and we can identify with his feelings and

reactions and understand why he behaves as he does. Shelley uses

different narrators throughout the novel and the reader sympathises

with the views of these people to differing degrees. The language

used when describing the physical appearance of the monster and his

feelings is very strong and evocative. The settings and motifs with

which the monster is associated are very dramatic and add to our

sympathy for his lonely existence. The monster’s use of rhetoric is

effective and his speech is eloquent, this is a strong technique by

which the reader is drawn in. Commentators have often compared the

monster to Adam, or to a newborn baby, this challenges the reader’s

view of him. Another technique employed by the author is to lead the

reader to draw parallels between the characters of Victor Frankenstein

and his creation.

The novel is told from the viewpoint of various narrators, a technique

explored by Emily Brontë in Wuthering Heights, which was popular with

writers in the nineteenth century. In Frankenstein, like in Wuthering

Heights, the first narrator is an outsider - Robert Walton - but as

the novel progresses the narrative moves in closer - to Victor, then

to the monster. Each narrator contributes their own feelings and

descriptions of both Victor and the mo...

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...r the period that Mary Shelley was

writing in – challenging the social conventions of the time.

Parallels are drawn between the anguish of the monster and the grief

felt by Victor Frankenstein. These strong emotions are portrayed

against some of the harshest, most desolate scenery in the world. The

contrast between these settings and the warm and pleasant scenes when

Victor is with his friends and family only serve to emphasise the

monster’s loneliness and isolation. Images of light and dark, heaven

and hell, warmth and cold, fire and ice, high and low, joy and despair

can be traced throughout the novel. All of these bring to mind

Milton’s ‘Paradise Lost’. The novel shows evidence of Mary Shelley’s

interest in scientific ideas of the time, a time when the conversation

of intelligent, well-educated people often turned to recent scientific

developments.
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