Frankenstein

by: Mary Shelley

Foreshadowing

Main ideas Foreshadowing

Foreshadowing is a significant element in Frankenstein. Victor Frankenstein repeatedly and explicitly foreshadows the tragic events that will come later by saying things like “Destiny was too potent, and her immutable laws had decreed my utter and terrible destruction.” Foreshadowing is also heightened through references to fate, destiny, and omens, which gives the impression that Victor’s story was doomed from the start. This use of foreshadowing might be yet another way in which he obscures his failed moral responsibility by making it sound as though no alternative were ever possible, when he actually could have chosen different actions at many points.

The death of Justine

The death of Justine is foreshadowed in several ways. Before William’s murder, Elizabeth introduces the character of Justine in a letter to Victor, which foreshadows that she will play a significant role in the plot. Despite Elizabeth clinging to hope that Justine will not be executed, previous events in the novel have foreshadowed that Justine’s innocence will not protect her. William was a totally innocent child, and was still brutally killed. The monster was innocent at the moment of his creation, and he was still abandoned. If anything, these previous events signal that Justine’s innocence and kindness make her even more likely to meet a cruel death. Moreover, since Justine’s life rests on Victor’s willingness to be honest, and he has so far only shown himself to be deceptive, his past behavior foreshadows his refusal to speak out on her behalf.

The death of Elizabeth

Elizabeth’s death on her wedding night is heavily foreshadowed. Immediately after the monster comes to life, Victor has a nightmare involving a vision of Elizabeth lying dead, and then transforming so that “I thought I held the corpse of my dead mother in my arms.” This vision foreshadows that Elizabeth will die, and that her death is in some way connected to the monster. The foreshadowing continues when the monster, enraged that Victor has destroyed the female mate, vows “I will be with you on your wedding night.” This comment foreshadows the danger awaiting Elizabeth, as does the action Victor has taken: he has effectively murdered the creation that was going to be the monster’s bride, so now the monster will murder his.