Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Frankenstein Works Cited

Cockren, A. "Paracelsus." 26 Aug. 2008 .

Hooker, Richard. "Homer." Homer. 1996. WSU. 26 Aug. 2008 .

Kennedy, Daniel. "St. Albertus Magnus." The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 1. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1907. 27 Aug. 2008 .

"Mary Shelley." Mary Shelley. 2003. 26 Aug. 2008 .

"Maven's Word of the Day." Words at Random. 1999. Random House. 26 Aug. 2008 .

Miller, Michael. "The Philosopher's Stone." The Philosopher's Stone. Oct. 1999. Quackgrass Press. 26 Aug. 2008 .

"Natural Philosophy Introduction." Natural Philosophy. USYD. 26 Aug. 2008 .

"Northwest Passage." Northwest Passage. 1994. Britannica Online Encyclopedia. 26 Aug. 2008 .

"Paradise Lost: Overview." Paradise Lost: Overview. 1999. New Arts Library. 26 Aug. 2008 .

"Percy Bysshe Shelley, "Mutability"" Percy Bysshe Shelley. Goecities. 26 Aug. 2008 .

"Rime of the Ancient Mariner." Wikipedia. 26 Aug. 2008. Wikipedia. 27 Aug. 2008 .

"Scarlet Fever- Topic Overview." Web MD. 2007. Healthwise. 26 Aug. 2008 .

"Schiavi ognor frementi." Signor ognor frementi. UPenn. 26 Aug. 2008 .

Stewart, Michael. "Prometheus", Greek Mythology: From the Iliad to the Fall of the Last Tyrant. November 14, 2005

"The Vicar of Wakefield." Wikipedia. 5 Aug. 2008. Wikipedia. 26 Aug. 2008 .

"Word of the Day- Lineament." Word of the Day. 29 June 2005. 26 Aug. 2008 .

Saturday, August 23, 2008



“Satan had his companions, fellows devils, to admire and encourage him, but I am solitary and abhorred.”

Quite possibly the most important theme pertaining to Frankenstein’s creature, companionship and understanding are displayed full force when the Creature discusses his need to be accepted by another being. Frankenstein’s abandonment and disgust at his own creation deeply affected how the Creature emotionally developed. His only desire in life was to understand why his master hated him so much and to find someone to accept him. In his desire for a companion, he feels anger when others refuse to accept him and when his creator refuses to build him a companion. Had Frankenstein acknowledged the Creatures basic “human” need for companionship, he may have avoided much of the misery that occurred later in his life, like the murder of his wife and best friend or the death of his father.

EDIT: Shelley references Satan in this passage to show that even the most hated and feared creature in the world has companions, but he (the Creature) still has no friendship.

Paradise Lost

Paradise Lost

“…consisted of Paradise Lost…” (pg. 116)

Paradise Lost was written by John Milton in the seventeenth-century when the Anglican Church was beginning to receive backlash from the people of England. Milton was deeply angered by the vanity of the church and chose to express his contempt through an epic poem. Milton’s epic work centers around Genesis and the fall of Adam and Eve. In the end, Milton described something known as the “felix culpa”, better known as the “fortunate fall”, a idea that explains how mankind is better having been expelled from the Garden of Eden because it lead to the arrival of the Messiah and gave mankind more opportunity to prove itself as good.

EDIT: Shelley uses Paradise Lost as a reference in Frankenstein so the reader can draw the similarities between Adam and Eve's fall from grace and Victor's own fall in going against nature. When Victor decides to rebel against the natural flow of things and create his own monster, the unfortunate events in the rest of his life is his fall from grace.




“…divine a retreat as Pandemonium appeared to the demons of hell after their sufferings in the lake of fire.” (pg. 93)

Here, Frankenstein’s monster references John Milton’s Paradise Lost. Milton created the word pandemonium from two words-- ‘pan’ meaning all or every and ‘daimon’ which meant demon. In the sense of Paradise Lost, Pandemonium was the capital of Hell. After that, Pandemonium also grew to represent Hell in general.


The Moon

The Moon

“I started up and beheld a radiant form rise from among the trees.” (pg. 91)

This sentence is taken from the chapters narrated from the creature’s point of view while telling Frankenstein the story of his travels after running away from his creator. At the point that he is describing, the creature would have had no idea what the great white ball climbing into the sky but the reader knows that he is speaking of the moon.

Mutability by Percy Bysshe Shelley

“We rest: a dream has power to poison sleep.
We rise; one wand’ring thought pollutes the day…” (pg 85)

The excerpt used in this chapter of Frankenstein is from the poem Mutability by Mary Shelley’s lover and future husband, Percy Bysshe Shelley. Shelley first came up with the idea for Frankenstein during a stay with Percy in the Swiss Alps while he was still married and she was only nineteen. Months later, once Percy’s wife had drowned, the young couple was able to marry. It makes perfect sense that Mary would use a poem her lover had written to help him get exposure and/or express her devotion to Percy.

EDIT: Shelley decided to use this poem because it expressed the idea that the only time either Victor or his Creation has any real peace is when they are sleeping or at rest. Even more than that, the idea that one "wand'ring thought pollutes the day" or "a dream has power to poison sleep". If you look at the idea of sleep being peace, a dream corrupts that much like Victor's dream of creating life corrupted his life.


The Vicar of Wakefield

The Vicar of Wakefield

“…the Dutch schoolmaster in The Vicar of Wakefield…” (pg. 46)

The Vicar of Wakefield was written by Oliver Goldsmith and tells the story of Dr. Primrose, a slightly wealthy and very generous young vicar with six children. Though the story begins with the vicar living peacefully with his family, Dr. Primrose’s life soon spirals out of control as he endures bankruptcy and several other domestic catastrophes including the disappearance of his daughter, a fire in his home and being sent to jail for being unable to pay his rent. In true Shakespearean-form, all ends well when the vicar’s friend resolves all the problems for him.

Ignorance is Bliss (Irony)

Ignorance is Bliss

“Learn from me, if not by my precepts, at least by my example, how dangerous is the acquirement of knowledge and how much happier that man is who believes his native town to be the world, than he who aspires to become greater than his nature will allow.” (pg. 39)

Clearly expressing the idea that “ignorance is bliss”, Victor extols the virtues of being content with a simple lifestyle to Walton. The slight irony shines through clearly in this piece as the reader knows Walton himself seeks some sort of glory in hoping to discover the Northwest Passage through the Artic Ocean.

Victor's Obsession 2

Victor’s Obsession 2

“I seemed to have lost all soul or sensation but for this one pursuit.” (pg. 40)

Victor’s obsession has only grown now that he has discovered the “secret of life” and is able to re-animate a body. Frankenstein often bemoans the fact that he created such a monster, but in the part of the story leading up the monster’s creation, Victor has retreated so far within himself and let his obsession take over so much that it wouldn’t be a stretch to call him a monster. Again, Shelley clearly shows her opinion of singular obsession to be a negative thing.

Victor's Obsession

Victor’s Obsession

“Two years passed in this manner, during which I paid no visit to Geneva, but was engaged, heart and soul, in the pursuit of some discoveries which I hope to make.” (pg. 36)

In this sentence, Victor’s obsession begins to show. Throughout Shelley’s novel, Frankenstein’s obsession with finding the secret of life (along with the forces of destiny) is credited with his demise in the long run. It is shown through the story that Shelley clearly believed that obsession with one singular topic only lead to negative outcomes.

Destiny and Fate 2

Destiny and Fate 2

“Thus ended a day memorable to me; it decided my future destiny.” (pg. 35)

Again, here Shelley makes use of fate and destiny. Victor says in telling his story to Walton that several things lead to his demise, all of them part of his destiny. At this point, Frankenstein has met two new people-- his drastically differing professors. They have both given him advice on his schooling, something he credits with the events of his horrible life being set in motion. Instead of taking responsibility for deciding his own fate, Victor often shoves the responsibility of his actions onto other people, saying “they” decided his fate.

Careful What You Wish For

Fulfilled Wishes and Regret

“I had often, when at home, thought it hard to remain during my youth cooped up in one place and longed to enter the world and take my station among other human beings. Now my desires were complied with, and it would, indeed, have been folly to repent.” (pg. 30)

In telling his story, Victor has already mentioned several times how much regret he feels in pursuing what ultimately lead to his demise. In this passage, he speaks of himself at a younger age when he hadn’t felt regret for any of his actions yet. Victor spent his entire youth wishing to be out in the world learning, only to have his wishing lead to a life of misery. Shelley uses Frankenstein as a vehicle to show the time-tested idea of being “careful what you wish for.”

Scarlet Fever

Scarlet Fever

“Elizabeth had caught the scarlet fever; her illness was severe, and she was in the greatest danger.” (pg. 28)

Scarlet fever is strep throat accompanied by a red-colored rash. Not all people who contract strep throat get the rash that lends it name to scarlet fever. The red rash usually begins on the tongue (giving the appearance of having strawberry-colored spots on the tongue) and then spreads over the chest and abdomen. Scarlet fever is no longer a serious risk to children and adults due to the invention of antibiotics, but during the 19th century scarlet fever was often a death sentence, hence the fear of Victor’s family and the death of his mother from the fever.

Destiny and Fate

Destiny and Fate

“It was a strong effort of the spirit of good, but it was ineffectual. Destiny was too potent, and her immutable laws had decreed my utter and terrible destruction.” (pg. 27)

Fate is an important theme in Frankenstein. Many times, Victor mentions that no matter what he had done, fate or destiny had already decided his outcome. The perpetual discussion of fate vs. free will would come under fire in this novel-- was Victor doomed from the beginning to a life of misery or was he simply using the role of fate as a scapegoat for his own mistakes?

Personification 1

Personification 1

“…partially unveiled the face of Nature, but her immortal lineaments were still a wonder and a mystery.” (pg. 25)

In this passage, Shelley gives nature a gender and physical attributes to something not human. This is an example of personification, a tool used to by authors to make something inanimate more lifelike and expressive. Calling nature a “her” and then using the word lineaments (a word meaning ‘one of the outlines, exterior features, or distinctive marks of a body or figure, particularly of the face’) makes the idea of nature come alive and give Frankenstein more ability to be intimate with the idea of nature.


Paracelsus and Albertus Magnus

Paracelsus and Albertus Magnus

“…of Paracelsus and Albertus Magnus.” (pg. 25)

Paracelsus (nee Auroleus Phillipus Theostratus Bombastus von Hohenheim) was a famous famous alchemist and doctor. He is credited with introducing opium (what many modern pain medications are still derived from) and mercury into medicine. As most scientists are at some point, Paracelsus was mocked and ostracized for his views later in life.

Albertus Magnus was another great thinker, called the Universal Doctor and thought to be one of the most knowledgeable men of his time. He taught at many schools and wrote may works concerning natural science and theology.


Cornelius Agrippa

Cornelius Agrippa

“…a volume of the works of Cornelius Agrippa.” (pg. 24)

Cornelius Agrippa was a German thinker who wrote on many topics including science and religion in the mid 16th century. He was widely considered a “mystic” by his peers and critics. He wrote about a myriad of different things, including daily domestic life to modern engineering and science. Often a critic of new scientific ideas and discoveries, Agrippa’s most famous work, De incertitudine et vanitate scientiarum (Of the Uncertainty and Vanity of the Sciences), was a scathing attack on what were cutting edge scientific theories and practices.

EDIT: Shelley includes this scientists to emphasize Victor's ideas on science and to give the reader a better idea of what Victor's future experiments would entail.

Natural Philosophy

Natural philosophy

“Natural philosophy is the genius that has regulated my fate…” (pg. 24)

Natural philosophy is the study of Earthly (of alien/extra planetary) things and how or why they work the way they do. Types of natural study and philosophy include what is now what is referred to simply as science. Natural philosophy includes the study of natural things from a grand scale (things such as Cosmology or Astronomy), the study of natural things on a very small scale, the study of elements, and the study of physical qualities to mention a few. Sir Isaac Newton named his famous book Mathematical Principles of Philosophy and has widely been regarded as one of the greatest natural philosophers (or scientists).

Foreshadowing 1

Foreshadowing 1

“…those events which led, by insensible steps, to my after tale of misery… has swept away all my hopes and joys.” (pg. 24)

Near the beginning of Frankenstein’s tale, he speaks of his love for natural science and how this love would eventually lead to his “misery”. The author/storyteller Frankenstein uses foreshadowing to let the reader/Walton know that something important (and clearly awful) will soon be occurring in the story.

Schiavi ognor frementi

7. Schiavi ognor frementi

“…one among the schiava ognor frementi…”

Directly translated from Italian to English as “slaves forever enraged”, Shelley is talking about Elizabeth’s birth father, a Milanese nobleman. The term applies to the group of Milanese citizens who didn’t like being part of Austria and wanted to restore Lombardy as a province of Italy again.


Clarification 1

“…I have communicated to him without disguise.” (pg. 13)

Here, Walton speaks of his conversations with Victor Frankenstein, who has recently come aboard the ship. The somewhat cumbersome language Shelley occasionally needs explanation, like here. What Walton is saying is that he was able to tell Frankenstein exactly what he meant without having to hide any of his ideas or thoughts like he might have to do with his crew or another friend. Shelley is trying to show that Walton already trusts and feels a deep bond with Frankenstein even though they have just met.

The Ancient Mariner and the Albatross

Albatross and The Ancient Mariner

“…I shall kill no albatross… worn and woeful as the “Ancient Mariner“.”

The poem The Rime of the Ancient Mariner by Samuel Taylor Coleridge tells the story of mariner at sea and his numerous trials. While at sea, he see an albatross flying ahead of his ship. Since albatrosses were seen as a sign of good luck, the mariner’s crew is happy to see the bird but the mariner shoots the bird down. Convinces that their voyage is now cursed, the crew forces the mariner to wear the dead bird around his neck until they all die from the curse. The metaphor of an albatross around the neck is now seen as a burden. Walton writes to his sister that he will not kill an albatross or suffer the fate of the Ancient Mariner, attempting to put her mind at ease and alleviate whatever worries she might have.


The Philosopher’s Stone and the Elixir of Life

“…the search of the philosopher’s stone and the elixir of life…”

The philosopher’s stone was a priceless object hunted for by alchemists for years. It was said to be a substance that held the power to transform regular everyday metals into gold. Of course, the stone has never been found and is now considered something of a silly bedtime story, much like the elixir of life. The elixir of life is a legendary fabled substance that was supposed to give the drinker immortality. Both the elixir of life and the philosopher’s stone were recently popularized again with the publication of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s (changed to Sorceror’s Stone for American publication) Stone. The children’s novel involved the villain’s search for both the stone and elixir in an effort to become all powerful.



“I accompanied the whale-fishers on several expeditions to the North Sea…” (pg. 3)

The profession of whaling was once a very popular and lucrative career. Crews of men would set off into the ocean to hunt for whales. Whales were hunted to make whale oil and later for their meat. Whaling was a very dangerous activity and often not rewarding as the crews would occasionally search for months only to return home empty handed (if they returned at all). The most famous representation of whaling is Herman Melville’s novel Moby Dick, the story of grizzly Captain Ahab and his unhealthy obsession for hunting down the great white that took his leg. While popular from the 17th century all the way through the early 20th century, whaling has since dropped off due to the cruelty and declining whale populations.

Homer and Shakespeare

Homer and Shakespeare

“…the names of Homer and Shakespeare are consecrated.” (pg. 2)

Homer was famous Greek story-teller who created and told what we now call the Iliad and the Odyssey. These two epic poems have long been considered radically important to the development of literature as a whole. Both works take their plot and form it around the Trojan War, a possibly fictional battle between the Trojans and Greeks. The Iliad and Odyssey both feature heavy themes including bravery, glory and identity.

Shakespeare has long been considered the greatest English playwright. Famous throughout for his tragedies, comedies and histories, Shakespeare is still studied (some would say ad nauseum) in most schools across the world. Shakespeare has also defined many archetypes in the modern world such as the classic romantic (“He’s such a Romeo”), the over-controlling wife (Lady Macbeth) and any power-hungry ruler (Macbeth or Claudius).


The Northwest Passage

The Northwest Passage

“…discovering a passage near the pole of those countries…” (pg. 2)

During the nineteenth century, explorers were keen to find a way to travel through the Artic Ocean in hopes of finding a faster trade route. Walton, with his crew, are about to set off and join the many other expeditions of sailors who attempted to find a Northwest Passage. These trips were extremely dangerous due to lack of communication, scarcity of food and encroaching ice flows.



"The Modern Prometheus"--Subtitle

The subtitle Shelley gave Frankenstein was The Modern Prometheus. In Greek mythology, Prometheus was the son of the Greek Titan Iapetus. Because Prometheus did not like Zeus, ruler of all the Gods, Prometheus stole fire and gave it to the mortals now living on Earth. When Zeus discovered that Prometheus had deceived him, he chained Prometheus to a rock and condemned him to an eternity of having his liver eaten out by a huge bird only to have the organ grow back each day to be eaten out again. Fire is often looked on as a symbol of life and it can be reasoned that Shelley used the allusion to Prometheus in reference to Frankenstein essentially stealing the spark of life from “the Gods” and giving it to his creation.

Credits: Stewart, Michael. "Prometheus", Greek Mythology: From the Iliad to the Fall of the Last Tyrant. (November 14, 2005)