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How Does Mary Shelley Use Chapters 15 And 16 Of "Frankenstein" To Evoke The Reader'S Sympathy For The Creature?

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How Does Mary Shelley use Chapters 15 and 16 of "Frankenstein" to Evoke the Reader's Sympathy for the Creature?

In this essay I will be commenting on Mary Shelley's use of chapters 15 and 16 in the novel "Frankenstein" to evoke feelings of sympathy from the reader. I will be analysing her presentation of character, the language and literary devices she uses, and what effect she intended her writing to have on the reader.

There were a number of influences on Shelley, during the writing of the novel "Frankenstein". Firstly, at the time of writing, gothic fiction was hugely popular, and so Shelley decided to have her novel set in this genre. All gothic literature follows a certain set of conventions which are present in all works of this genre. Gothic tales all occur in an inhospitable place, such as a mountain or dense forest, during bad weather. The characters in Gothic tales are often unnatural or sinister, and the plot is usually morbid, focusing on murders or strange paranormal occurrences. However, "Frankenstein" does not always follow these conventions to the letter, as Shelley sometimes deviates from this set formula in a deliberate design which enhances the atmosphere of the tale and the effect upon the audience.

Many of the themes and occurrences in the novel were relevant to her personal life as well; she was mourning the death of her firstborn at the time, which could explain the more morbid twists of the plot and she was the victim of discrimination as she had to publish the book anonymously due to the fact she was a woman. She lived in a time when science was in contention with the church and there was precedence of electricity being used to stimulate dead frogs, which may have given inspiration as to how the monster was created.

Chapters 15 and 16 occur around the middle of the novel, after Victor has animated the monster and then rejected it. The chapters are written entirely from the monster's point of view. This is very important to the novel as a whole, as it enlightens the reader to the creature's motivation and also sets the stage for the events which occur later in the novel. These chapters also add a lot of depth to the novel, as it forces the reader to question his/her morals; it changes the story from a simple tale with a clearly defined hero and villain to one where you understand and relate with the creature and are less enamoured of Victor.

By giving the creature a voice and personality, Shelley introduces a great deal of pathos into the story, as we no longer see the creature as basically an object which needs destroying, we also come to understand what it has been through and why it has acted as it has. The creature's use of language allows the reader to relate with it, as it speaks fluently with an extensive and intelligent vocabulary. The fact that the creature is articulate makes the readers reconsider their perception of the creature, as we can no longer think of it as a mindless beast, but a sentient being with thought and feelings. Shelley has the creature use very emotive language when describing his experiences and feelings; this has a profound effect on the reader, for example when the creature describes his being "sunk in the lowest dejection."

In these two chapters, the creature raises a number of points which contribute to the theme of nature versus nurture, which is present throughout the novel. The creature defiantly contributes towards the nurture argument, as these two chapters detail his metamorphosis from a positive view of mankind "I learned he views of social life which it developed, to admire their virtues, and to deprecate the vices of mankind" before his maltreatment, to a wholly negative one after "The mildness of my nature had fled and all within me was turned to gall and bitterness". This contradicts the nature argument, as, if it was in his nature to be evil (being made of dead criminals), he surely would have not been so gentle and caring before. The creature has been consciously written to evoke sympathy, as it is plainly obvious that Shelley wrote in many of his characteristics for the sole purpose of making the reader feel sorry for the creature. Its ugly appearance and constant lamentation of loneliness cannot fail to provoke a reaction. "But I was wretched and alone."

The creature, and his situation, is not the only device Shelley uses to stir feeling for the creature among the readers. Her use of first person narrative when the creature is explaining himself makes both chapters feel very personal, and her descriptions of how other characters in the story react to him induce a copious amount of pathos. There is a great deal of dramatic irony in the writing when the creature is talking to De lacy, who is blind and cannot see the creature's ugliness. The fact that they have a cordial conversation only because the man is blind, represents the exploration of another theme in Frankenstein, that of prejudice. "But if you are really blameless, cannot you undeceive them?"

Shelley uses the creature's encounters with humans to create a feeling of injustice, as it becomes obvious just how unfairly the creature has been treated. "That was the recompense for my benevolence! I had saved a human being from destruction, and, as recompense, I now



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