Analyse how the strengths and/ or weaknesses of one or more characters reinforced a message.
|Strengths and Weaknesses||Message||Evidence|
|Character Weakness: VF|
Dangerously acquires knowledge + pushing the limits of nature due to his need to know
|Obtaining knowledge which the human frame cannot acquire will mess with the balance of life.||“One secret which I alone possessed was the hope to which I had dedicated my self; and the moon gazed on my midnight labours, while, with unrelaxed and breathless eagerness, I pursued nature to her hiding-places”|
“The world was to me a secret which I desired to divine. Curiosity, earnest research to learn the hidden laws of nature, gladness akin to rapture, as they were unfolded to me, are among the earliest sensations I can remember.”
|Character Weakness: VF has many loved ones who he wishes to protect from the creature’s wrath, thus enabling him to submit to the creature’s threats and become morally trapped. ||Love you hold for your loved ones can be used against you by your enemies.||“If you will comply with my conditions, I will leave them and you at peace; but if you refuse, I will glut the maw of death, until it be satiated with the blood of your remaining friends.”|
“Death snatches away many blooming children, the only hopes of their doting parents; how many brides and youthful lovers have been one day in the bloom of health and hope, and the next a prey for worms and the decay of the tomb!”
|Character Strength: VF|
Looks to nature for healing in tough times.
|Nature can be used as a sedative for life’s problems when one learns how to uphold its many beauties.||“…bending my steps towards the near Alpine valleys, sought in the magnificence, the eternity of such scenes, to forget myself and my ephemeral, because human, sorrows.”|
“A serene sky and verdant fields filled me with ecstasy. The present season was indeed divine; the flowers of spring bloomed in the hedges, while those of summer were already in bud.”
“How can I describe my emotions at this catastrophe, or how delineate the wretch whom with such infinite pains and care I had endeavoured to form?”
The famous gothic novel ‘Frankenstein’ by Mary Shelley follows the doomed downfall of the rich, and ambitious Victor Frankenstein during the late 1700s. Due to compassionately succeeding in creating a ‘monster’ from the leftovers of death, he disrupts the balance of nature and suffers as a consequence. Immediately after creating this fiendish creature, he is terrified and therefore makes the terrible mistake to abandon and neglect the creature thus forming a destructive and bitter enemy set on ruining the life of Frankenstein for bringing him into a hateful world. An ongoing mental conflict within Victor brings out the strengths and weaknesses of Victor and by learning these, messages are reinforced to the reader. In this essay, I will be discussing one strength and two weaknesses held by Victor and how they reinforce a message to the reader.
Looking towards the beauties of nature as a sedative for his miseries is a strength in Victor, reinforcing the message that life’s problems can be appeased when one learns how to heal themselves through nature’s beauties. Victor delves into a deep depression after bringing life to his creation and realising that his decision was a monstrous atrocity. Though Clerval miraculously aids in nursing him back to health, nature is ultimately the spiritual renewal that heals Victor after such emotional distress. Nature’s effect on Victor becomes evident when he claims that a “… serene sky and verdant fields filled me with ecstasy. The present season was indeed divine; the flowers of spring bloomed in the hedges, while those of summer were already in bud.” Whilst surrounded by the sublime natural world, the reader notices how his narrative tone changes from hectic, pessimistic and regretful to enlightened, peaceful and optimistic, therefore reinforcing that nature can have a major influence on mental health. Positive connotative words are used to reinforce this powerful effect, the above quote containing words such as ‘serene, verdant, divine and bloomed’ as well as the words ‘filled me with ecstasy’ indicate a drastic change in Victor’s mental state and how important nature is to his restoration of happiness. Soon after, the deaths of his brother William and the innocent Justine hits him, and with that a wave of grief, guilt and sorrow. Again, nature uplifts his spirit during his journey to the village of Chamonix, when Victor “… steps towards the near Alpine valleys, sought in the magnificence, the eternity of such scenes, to forget myself and my ephemeral, because human, sorrows.” The severity of his depression is clear when earlier he is contemplating drowning in the silent lake, however due to his love for his remaining family and the consoling nature of the beautiful scenery that surrounds him he continues in his journey. Connotative words such as ‘magnificence and eternity’ continues to change the often bleak mood and tone of the novel, words being used to reinforce to the reader nature’s soothing effect. Due to nature’s beauty, Victor is able to be enlightened and rationalise, realising that he can temporarily forget the chaos and misery of his life, that this dark period is merely ephemeral and that it’s in human nature to experience sorrow. In turn, the reader learns that nature’s beauty can act as a medicine for tough times.
Despite his strengths, on the other hand, Victor holds many weaknesses, these weaknesses resulting in him becoming mentally trapped with depression, grief and paranoia in the first -place. One of his weaknesses is his persistent ardour for uncovering nature’s secrets, reinforcing the message that humans shouldn’t curiously mess with the sublime natural world, or there will be negative repercussions. Victor affirms that the “… world was to me a secret which I desired to divine. Curiosity, earnest research to learn the hidden laws of nature, gladness akin to rapture, as they were unfolded to me, are among the earliest sensations I can remember.” Attempting to surge beyond accepted human limits and accessing nature’s secrets is a primary downfall to Victor’s character, this weakness being evident in the beginning. Connotative words such as “hidden, laws, rapture and unfolded” are again used to indicate that the ‘laws’ of nature weren’t meant to be broken, this point being reinforced to the reader by the negative outcome of his actions. A famous saying ‘curiosity killed the cat’ truly applies to Victor, his personal weakness of needing to uncover what should be left alone, biting him in the back, as both his creation and fate had worked against him, resulting in the death of his loved ones and immense suffering up to his death. Whilst Victor experiments with life from death, he states that “… the moon gazed on my midnight labours, while, with unrelaxed and breathless eagerness, I pursued nature to her hiding-places”. Personification is used, the inanimate moon gazing down on him, suggesting that he commits his shameful actions during the night and out of sight of any human eye. The fact that he is pursuing what should remain hidden in secrecy shows that he knows that others will disapprove, indicating to the audience that this isn’t right and establishing the message that it is both frowned upon and dangerous to mess with the balance of the world’s nature.
Another weakness that Victor holds is his fervent fear for losing his loved ones, this fear enabling the creature to hold him in a mental trap, his threats to murder his family forcing him to weaken capitulate to the creature’s demands. This personal weakness reinforces the message that we all hold this weakness; that our love for our family can ultimately be used against us by our enemies. After directly murdering William and indirectly causing Justine’s death, the creature confronts Victor threatening that if “… you will comply with my conditions, I will leave them and you at peace; but if you refuse, I will glut the maw of death, until it be satiated with the blood of your remaining friends.” Subsequently, the threat works in the creature’s favour, trapping Victor in a moral dilemma and forcing him to obey to the creature’s demand to create a female companion and once again dangerously mess with the balance of nature. The harsh and unforgiving tone of the creature indicates that there are only two choices, sacrifice his family or submit to the creature’s control, putting him in a weak and defeated position. This concept reinforces the idea that if any one of us humans received the same threat, we would also feel trapped and feel submissive to the demands of our ‘captor’. Later in the novel, after his female creation reaches completion, Victor experiences a change of moral values, prioritising humanity over his loved ones, therefore escaping the creature’s mental trap. However, due to this defiance, the creature murders his best friend Clervall and whilst mourning Victor states “… death snatches away many blooming children, the only hopes of their doting parents; how many brides and youthful lovers have been one day in the bloom of health and hope, and the next a prey for worms and the decay of the tomb!” Personification of death is effectively used in Victor’s accepting that our beloved ones no matter how beautiful (Elizabeth) or youthful (William) will ultimately be ‘snatched’ by the almighty reaper and become a decaying corpse this bleak message being reinforced to the reader through Victor’s realisation what is the ‘greater good’.
To conclude, I have discussed how the strengths and weaknesses of Victor’s character have effectively reinforced an important message to the reader. Shelley skillfully implements multiple language features to reinforce messages in her novel and create an intelligent and capable, though vulnerable and foolish main protagonist.