Mary Shelley was, at that time, living in an age of scientific experiments and research that could change the world forever. So, her ideas for the story were influenced by experiments and scientific debates of that time. She uses the concept of ‘Galvanism’ which was originally known as ‘animal electricity’. This was the idea of ‘Luigi Galvani’, he suggested that there was a form of electricity different from any other, which was produced by lighting and the brain. This form of electricity made muscles move rapidly. This lead to further experiments on human corpses. Another experiment took place using another form of electricity.
It was on the body of ‘Thomas Forster’, after he was hanged. The method was that wires were attached to the body, through different sensory parts, and a current then sent electricity around the body and the body began to move. Mary Shelley knew about these experiments as these were often discussed the great detail by popular newspapers, also pamphlets and lectures would have discussed these ideas. The novel is based on Victor Frankenstein creating a monster. This monster is abominable. Victor is in from Geneva and in his early childhood, his cousin (and lover later in the novel), Elizabeth, came to stay with his family.
In his late teens, his mother passed away and he went to university in Ingolstadt, whilst there he creates a monster. He never tells anyone about it, but spends long days and nights working on his creation. After, the monster comes alive Victor abandons it, and becomes very ill. His friend, Henry Clerval, nurses Victor back to health. Victor gets better and returns home to Geneva, but before returning home he receives a letter from his father stating that his brother, William, has been murdered. Victor is distraught as returns home as quickly as he can.
Whilst at home, he goes to the mountains, there he meets the monster and the monster admits that he committed the murder and begs Victor for a companion. Victor makes a female monster, but later dumps it in the river. In the morning when he arrives at the river bank, he is arrested for murder. Victor then recognises the body; it is Henry. Again, Victor falls ill, but he is kept in prison until he recovers he then marries Elizabeth, but he is worried that the monster will kill him so, on his wedding night he sends Elizabeth away to a hideaway to await his return.
Victor hears a scream, and rushes to the hideaway, Elizabeth is dead. Victor goes searching for the monster but he falls ill and eventually dies, and the Captain of the ship finds the monster sobbing over Victor. The monster says that now his creator is dead he will have to die. The monster then departs to the Mountain to die. Chapter 5 describes how, on one stormy night, in the secrecy of his apartment, Victor completes his creation. But when it is brought to life, its appearance horrifies him. Victor then goes to the next room and tries to sleep, but is awoken by a dreadful dream about his late mother and Elizabeth.
He wakes up to find the monster towering above his bed, Victor rushes out of the house and spend the night in the courtyard below. He then goes in to town and meets Henry. They go to his apartment, but victor is surprised the monster is gone. Victor is weakened by the energy he has spent on creating the monster and falls ill. His illness lasts for several months, but with the help of Henry he soon gets better, Henry then passes him a letter from Elizabeth. Mary Shelley used careful words choice, alliteration and many more effects to create the dark atmosphere that that the paragraph evokes.
In the beginning of the paragraph, the word ‘dreary,’ beheld and ‘toils’ add emotional weight to the narrative, making you sense what is really happening. In the phrase ‘with an anxiety’ the word ‘anxiety’ describes the way Victor feels about his creation, also ‘amounted to agony’ highlights this feeling. The line ‘I collected the instruments of life around me’ suggests that victor is consumed in his work and that he is marshalling his forces, before the push into the unknown. ‘Spark of…….. light’ this phrase introduces the only illumination in the paragraph, creating a variation atmosphere from the rest of the paragraph.
The sentences ‘the rain pattered dismally against the pains’, ‘candle was nearly burnt out’ and ‘the half extinguished light’ mirror the dark setting that was introduced in the beginning of chapter 5. The bodily features of the monster, are described as un-natural, this is initially shown to us through imagery. The phrase ‘dull yellow eye’ suggests that the body is an un-natural and that it is also breaking the laws of god and man as it is an unhealthy and unusual sight. The phrase ‘convulsive motion’ is usually associated with fits as it is an unhealthy action.
The first description of the monster is very dramatic. The negative vocabulary adds to the tension that the first paragraph created. The first of the negative words is ‘catastrophe’. This suggests that the birth is a negative event. The picture of the creature is initially created for us through imagery and descriptive vocabulary. The word ‘wretch’ implies that we should have pity for the creature as its features are grotesque. Victor’s feelings towards his creation are both horror and shock. Also, Victor is being selfish because he doesn’t have a loving feeling towards the monster because of its abnormality.