Frankenstein

by: Mary Shelley

Style

The overall style of Frankenstein is elevated and formal. The characters use complex diction (word choice) to capture the intensity of their emotional experiences. For example, when Walton writes to his sister at the start of the novel, he explains his loneliness by lamenting that “I have no one near me, gentle yet courageous, possessed of a cultivated as well as a capacious mind, whose tastes are like my own.” Walton gives an idealized description of his vision of the perfect friend, and focuses on describing the intellect and cultural sophistication he imagines such an individual would possess. Similarly, when Victor describes learning what contemporary scientists were capable of achieving, he explains that “I felt as if my soul were grappling with a palpable enemy; one by one the various keys were touched which formed the mechanism of my being.” He uses the metaphor of a musical instrument being played to describe the revelation and inspiration he experienced at this moment.

Both Walton and Victor are well-educated and highly ambitious men committed to achieving prestige in their chosen fields. The sophisticated language they use reflects the grandeur of their ambitions to do things like explore uncharted lands and develop a system for creating life. Interestingly, the monster speaks in a similar style, despite having been raised in isolation with practically no human contact. When the monster first speaks with Victor during their meeting on the mountaintop, he threatens to “glut the maw of death, until it be satiated with the blood of your remaining friends.” Despite his monstrous appearance and the grotesque actions he is threatening to commit, the monster has a highly sophisticated command of language and speaks in the same elevated and grandiose style as Victor does. This stylistic choice confirms the implicit comparison between Victor and the monster that reoccurs throughout the novel, and supports the inherent humanity of the monster. Although Victor desperately wants to believe that he has nothing in common with his creation, the shared style of their speech suggests otherwise.