3 Pages, Grade: 2,3
The passage provided from M. Shelley´s Frankenstein is a part of Victor Frankenstein´s description of the journey he and his friend Henry Clerval undertake, after the monster killed his brother William and demanded Victor to create a female companion. In particular, it is a description of the stay in Oxford and Victor´s inner thoughts and feelings.
He describes the city of Oxford very pictorially. The reader gets the impression that this is the perfect city (“[...] its majestic assemblage of towers, spires, and domes, [...]”, l 4f) and the best place for Victor´s “miserable [...] self” (l 15f) to recover; as he says at the end of the passage “my soul was elevated” (l 23). Although he has the monster and its demand for a companion in the back of his mind, he is a little bit calmer and less nervous as he usually is, as there are no exclamations or questions. Instead of short and snatchy sentences, he uses long ones which make the stream of speech smooth and steady (e.g. l 1-5, l 17-22).
Throughout the text, Victor uses – on the one hand - numerous positive words to describe Oxford, his surroundings and when he talks about the English history. There are words such as “magnificent” (l 2), “enjoyment” (l 6), “peaceful happiness” (l 8); expressions like “my soul was elevated” (l 23) or even “a free and lofty spirit” (l 27). He seems to enjoy the journey together with his best friend. However, in the whole book, such words are used very rarely by Victor. He is constantly terrorized by his creation and is also very depressed, especially since the time when the monster begins to murder his family. This is very well mirrored in the usage of – on the other hand- various negative words and expressions such as “embittered” (l 6), “wrecked” (l 15), “debasing and miserable fears” (l 23 f); he even says “[...] the iron had eaten into my flesh [...]” (l 27f) when he compares his problems with “chains” (l 26).
Generally, the positive words are mainly used for nature, voyages, Victor´s family, science and the past (especially his childhood); while the negative words are mostly used for his inner condition and memories, e.g. the guilt and fear he feels when thinking upon his creation: “But I am a blasted tree; the bolt has entered my soul; [...]” (l 13). Like the bolt entered the tree, the creation and existence of the monster enters his soul and in the end, destroys Victor. This oppositeness of positive and negative words in this passage is just another example of the basic conflict between good and bad in the whole book. This antagonism can be interpreted in different ways. First, as I mentioned above, good can stand for the outside world (nature, travelling, family and friends, learning and science, Victor´s childhood) and bad for his inside world (irrevocable mistake of creating the monster, Victor´s carelessness about it, he keeps it as a secret, his guilt for the murder of William as well as his fear that the monster fulfils its threat to kill the rest of his family). Secondly the antagonism, of course, portrays the conflict between Victor and his creation. Ever since the monster was created, its existence is a constant threat which he tries to ignore, for example when he says:
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