Textual Analysis of “Frankenstein”
The Unlikely Driving Force Passage A depicts a crucial fragment of Victor’s time at the university of Ingolstadt.
Upon his arrival he grows dissatisfied with seemingly unimportant applications of modern science, nevertheless, his fervor for obtaining scientific mastery and uncovering the arcane secrets ot science is revi talized when ne attends the lecture ot professor Waldman. As eloquently portrayed in Passage A by Mary Shelley, Waldman’s words carry such compelling force that they awaken the true nature of
Frankenstein and bring to surface an integral piece of his character” a deeply rooted desire to reproduce life as a direct result of his mother’s death. As such, the passage represents the catalyst in Victor’s predetermined and incessant pursuit toward the conquest of death. Although Victor’s affinity for abstruse science manifests itself early in his life, it possesses no real influence over him and simply appears to be a temporary infatuation, “l at once gave up my former occupations..
. and entertained the greatest disdain for a would-be science which could never even tep within the threshold of real knowledge” (Shelley, 43).
The death of his mother, despite seemingly insignificant, plays a critical role in Victor’s development and psyche. He becomes deeply concerned with the notion and implications of death. Throughout the book, his consequent psychological ailments are difficult to overlook. In many instances, he exhibits dissociative and antisocial tendencies and unchecked bouts of depression, always regarding the death of those whom he loves.
This is especially clear at the prospect of Justine Moritz’s death where Victor’s depression ecomes the center of concern within his family, “My dearest friend, you must calm yourself.
These events have affected me, God knows how deeply; but I am not so wretched as you are. …
Dear Victor, banish these dark passions” (84). In this quote, Elizabeth, who is the closest to Justine, attempts to comfort Victor as she notices unusual sentiments and pleads with him to put an end to his uncharacteristic behavior. Following the death of his mother, Victor experiences a resurgence of interest in science, specifically arcane science, particularly in the presence of Waldman’s lecture. It is precisely this moment, where his inert passions become active.
He becomes instantly enveloped in a desire to “unfold to the world the deepest mysteries of creation” (49). This is ever clear in passage A where Shelley vividly describes the effect Waldman’s words have on his emotional state through the use of certain phrases like “mechanism of my being”, “soul of Frankenstein” and “internal being”, all of which indicate an essential and irreducible part of his existence that is being affected.
Furthermore, his tone is marked by an unprecedented intensity that yearns to “… pioneer a new way, explore unknown owers, and unfold to the world the deepest mysteries of creation”.
Also, Victor’s emotional condition is described to be in “a state of insurrection and turmoil” which points to a toppling of personality that further denotes his process of awakening.
This rather sudden barrage of emotions could only arise from an already existing, albeit dormant reserve that becomes triggered by Waldman’s speech. It is also important to note Shelleys deliberate use of the word “fate” early in the passage which points to Victor’s future as predestined by his mother’s death. Victor’s awakening is further described in the passage.
Following his powerful experience Shelley writes, “l awoke…
there only remained a resolution to return to my ancient studies” (49). Interestingly, there is a strong emphasis by Shelley on the first-person narrative voice, with Victor repeatedly proclaiming the nature of changes on both his physical and psychological being. Moreover, the mood of the passage is altogether electrifying. The enormity of Victor’s transformation becomes apparent with each passing sentence. Compelling images appear as Victor grapples witn a “palpable enemy’ and sounds come alive as “chord after chord is sounded”.
Frankenstein’s awakening is complete, “my mind was filled with one thought, one conception, one purpose… I will unfold to the world…
the deepest mysteries of creation” (49). Frankenstein’s transformation however, was predetermined by Caroline’s death. The death of his mother signifies the inception of his future disposition. As the intense aversion he experiences toward the notion of death becomes ever more apparent throughout the book, the more transparent his destiny becomes. Victor experiences a resurgence of dormant feelings at the time of passage A, which signifies the catalyst stage that sets in motion his destiny.
Lastly, his destiny is ultimately realized following the creation of the monster.
Shelleys underlying motivations in describing Frankenstein’s transformation remain numerous. Is it possible she is chronicling the devastating psychological and physical effects of sorrow, despondency and desolation? Perhaps. However it is also likely that Frankenstein’s rapture may be a warning to those who allow unchecked emotional currents take ahold of their destiny.