Motif Similarity in Frankenstein and How to Read Literature Like a Professor
Although Frankenstein and How to Read Literature like a Professor are written in two different time periods, they have many of the same motifs and archetypes. Frankenstein explores the creation of a monster but develops a character that is just as unstable. Fosters guide dissects many books of literature including Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, the guide helps make connections and encourage deeper reading and understanding. As the story transposes Fosters chapters can directly link to Frankenstein such as symbolism, geography, and prejudice. To begin the quest among Victor, the monster, and Walton there are five requirements along the said journey: “(a) a quester, (b) a place to go, (c) a stated reason to go there, (d) challenges and trials en route, and (e) a real reason to go there” (Thomas Foster 3). This is the beginning to comprehending the journey of a book and literature. Frankenstein begins the same way, as chapter one begins there are three characters that are going on different quests throughout the book.
Walton, Victor and the monster. “Natural philosophy is the genius that has regulated my fate; I desire, therefore, in this narration, to state those facts which led to my predilection for that science” (Mary Shelley 35) This is the beginning of Victor confessing his love for science that ultimately becomes the beginning of the quest of his creation that leads to nothing but his transitioning into a monster. In chapter seven Foster creates a scene of elaborate stories on religion and lost innocence. An example is “Araby”, “loss of innocence,” (Foster 49). This example relates directly back to William whom is killed by Victors monster. “The figure passed me quickly, and I lost it in my gloom. Nothing in human shape could have destroyed that fairchild” (Shelley 75). As well as the loss of innocence, symbolism strikes amongst Victor as he arrives to the place his brother died. “ I remained motionless. The thunder ceased,” (Shelley 75). The following symbolism relates to the “four horseman” (Foster 48). The symbolism of death arriving, as well as lightning to which brought the monster to life and became the demise of two innocent lives. In chapter nine of Frankenstein and chapter ten of (HTRLLAP) the connection of weather resonates with Victor as he mourns the loss of his brother, William.
Foster states that weather is never a coincidence it always symbolizes an idea, emotion or perhaps the next part of the ‘quest’. “The sound of the river raging among the rocks, and the dashing of the waterfalls around, (Shelley 92). Foster provides an biblical example of the weather representing peace, thus connecting with Victor whom finds his only escape to the mountain montanvert. “Thus not the tenderness of friendship, nor the beauty of earth, nor of the heaven, could redeem my soul from woe: (Shelley 91) Foster explains in chapter ten the symbolism of the rainbow in the bible, “God promised Noah with the rainbow never again to flood the whole earth. No writer in the West can employ a rainbow without being aware of its signifying aspect, its biblical function (Foster 79). Violence is prevalent in Victor’s monster, Victors intentions to create life only led to death and his demise. The biblical connection of the monster and Victor is the way that his creation views him. “This I relieve thee, my creator,” he said, and placed his hated hands before my eyes, which I flung from me with violence, “ this I take from thee a sight which you abhor” (Shelley 99). The monster claims that he has resulted to violence due to Victors abandonment. In chapter eleven of (HTRLLAP) Foster refers back to Toni Morrison’s Beloved, in the example the mother kills her children when she finds out they will become victims of slavery. “Violence is one of the most personal and even intimate acts between human beings, but it also can be cultural and societal in its implications.
Violence in Fosters example is made out of emotion, as well as the monster in Shelley’s book. In chapter twelve Foster begins to dissect symbolism and how identifying an example of symbolism can be easier rather than comprehending what it means. “We want it to mean some thing, one thing for all of us and for all time. That would be easy, convenient, manageable for us. But that handiness would result in a net loss: the novel would cease to be what it is, (Foster 99). The symbolism of nature in chapter eleven of Frankenstein is developed through fire, the coldness the monster tells Victor he experienced.
The coldness can relate to the abandonment he felt towards Victor, as well as the fire representing the true feelings and bestowing the emotions the monster felt alone in the woods without his creator. “In my joy I thrust my hand into the live embers , but quickly drew it out again with a cry of pain.” (Shelley 103) Chapter thirteen Foster goes into depth on how every book has a political piece to it. “ Nearly all writing is political on some level” (Foster 111). As the monster continues his story of being isolated and abandoned, he discusses the evils of humanity and the legal system. The monster describes disgust and remorse. “For a long time I could not conceive how one man could go forth to murder his fellow, or even why there were laws and governments; but when I heard details of vice and bloodshed, my wonder ceased, and I turned away with disgust and loathing (Shelley 118). Frankenstein hardly seems like the book to have political pieces but deep within the monsters prejudice he suffers from and the government Fosters statement stands. “The world contains many thing , and on the level of society, part of what it contains is the political reality of the time power structures, relations among classes, issues of justice and rights, interactions between the sexes and among various racial and ethnic constituencies” (Foster 115) “Literary geography is typically about humans inhabiting spaces, and at the same time the spaces that inhabit humans” (Foster 166) Victor makes a point to go North, as Victor moves farther away from society, his family and friends. The monster speaks of being abandoned, and as he grows to understand the world, and his love for nature, much like Victor you can feel his ultimate demise.
The monster is growing and thriving in nature, Victor tells of how he only solemnly feels at peace in nature but even that too is destroyed “I enjoyed the scene; and yet my enjoyment was embittered both by the memory of the past, and the anticipation of the future” (Shelley 159) The geography of where Victor flees to says a lot about who he is, and how he enjoyed it before and felt peace and comfort but now only feels it for a moment. The monster has a way of taking everything from Victor, including his sanity. In chapter twenty-one Foster addresses Mary Shelley’s book directly, although the monster physically was unappealing than Victor, the real monster was the creator himself. “But in the novel it’s the idea of the monster that is frightening, or perhaps it’s really the idea of the man, the scientist-sorcerer forging an unholy alliance with dark knowledge that scares us (Foster 199). The psychological downfall that the audience witnesses the longer the monster is alive is more concerning than the physical monster in itself. In chapter twenty-two Victor has basically become the monster. Victor’s state of mind is full of isolation, he confesses to his father of the murder he has committed, at this time the difference between Victor and his creation are not to be found. Although Victor looks human his mind and his heart have become one with the monster. “I am not mad,” I cried energetically; “the sun and the heavens, who have viewed my operations, can bear witness of my truth. I am the assassin of those most innocent victims; they died by my machinations. A thousand times would I have shed my own blood, drop by drop, to have saved their lives” (Shelley 184).
Victor takes blame for the deaths of his family and friends, as victor loses his family the closer the monster gets to showing Victor the isolation the monster experienced when his creator abandons him. Victor is a death away from becoming the monster and completely living in isolation from all those he loves, including his own wife Elizabeth. CONCLUSION In conclusion, Frankenstein and How to Read Literature like a Professor are similar in many aspects but just as different. They share several of the same motifs such as symbolism, archetypes, prejudice and nature. Foster sprinkles in several books, he uses quite a bit of variety yet he uses Toni Morrison’s Beloved several times. The violence and prejudice relates back to Victor and his creation in several ways. In the same ways they are different where Frankenstein is a story of upset and adventure psychologically and physically.
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