Linguistic Techniques #
Mary Shelley uses the narrative device of a Ship’s Captain retelling a tale through epistemology (letters to his sister) he has heard from an obsessed distraught Scientist he has rescued from an ice floe in the remote Arctic Ocean. Both men have challenged the frontiers of human knowledge and have suffered for it.
Shelley draws a parallel between Walton’s spatial explorations and Frankenstein’s forays into unknown knowledge, as both men seek to “pioneer a new way,” to make progress beyond established limits.
Mary Shelley – The Preface:
I have thus endeavoured to preserve the truth of the elementary
principles of human nature, while I have not scrupled to innovate upon their combinations.
***“…my chief concern in this respect has been limited to avoiding the enervating effects of the novels of the present day and to the exhibition of the amiableness of domestic affection, and the excellence of universal virtue. ***The Preface
For her young years, Mary Shelly had a wide ranging vocabulary:
I will glut the maw of death, until it be satiated with the blood
of your remaining friends.
* – Mary Shelley,* Frankenstein, 1818**
maw \maw\, noun:
1. the symbolic or theoretical center of a voracious hunger or appetite
of any kind: the ravenous maw of Death.
2. the mouth, throat, or gullet of an animal, especially a carnivorous mammal.
3. a cavernous opening that resembles the open jaws of an animal: the gaping maw of hell.
Maw comes to us from the Old English maga meaning “stomach.” Its figurative use first appeared in the late 1300s. ** Dictionary.com **
Allusions to Coleridge The Rime of the Ancient Mariner
Her home was visited frequently by other famous writers such as Hazlett, Charles Lamb, Coleridge and Percy Shelley. She and her step sisters hid behind the sofa one night to listen to Coleridge recite The Rime of the Ancient Mariner. Her novel Frankenstein has many parallels to this poem.
I am going to unexplored regions, to “the land of mist and snow”; but I shall kill no albatross, therefore do not be alarmed for my safety, or if I should come back to you as worn and woeful as the “Ancient Mariner.”
I have often attributed my attachment to, my passionate enthusiasm for, the dangerous mysteries of ocean, to that production of the most imaginative of modern poets.
***I have wandered here many days; the caves of ice, (146) ***
Milton’s - Paradise Lost
Did I request thee, Maker, from my clay
To mould me Man, did I solicit thee
From darkness to promote me?
“But Paradise Lost excited different and far deeper emotions….. ***Like Adam, I was apparently united by no link to any other being in existence; but his state was far different from mine in every other respect. He had come forth from the ******hands of God a perfect creature, happy and prosperous, guarded by the especial care of his Creator; he was allowed to converse with, and acquire knowledge from, beings of a superior nature: but I was wretched, helpless, and alone. Many times I considered Satan as the fitter emblem of my condition; for often, like him, when I viewed the bliss of my protectors, the bitter gall of envy rose within me. ** ***
Satan had his companions, fellow-devils, to admire and encourage him; but I am solitary and abhorred.’ (176)
Dante’s – The Inferno
For mankind’s vision of hell on earth we have either Milton’s Christian version or Dante’s more paganistic view.