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Explain the making of the monster, literally and figuratively, in Mary Shelley's...

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pri73gb | Student, Undergraduate | eNotes Newbie

Posted April 25, 2012 at 5:42 AM via web

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Explain the making of the monster, literally and figuratively, in Mary Shelley's Frankenstein.

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literaturenerd | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

Posted May 25, 2012 at 7:20 PM (Answer #1)

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The monster Victor creates, in Mary Shelley's Frankenstein, can be defined both literally and figuratively. Prior to defining the monster's creation, both "literal" and "figurative" need to be defined.

When discussing a literal meaning, one is examining the exact meaning of the words/phrase in question. Therefore, when examining the literal creation of the monster, one is examining the exact way in which the monster was created.

When examining the figurative meaning, one is examining what is represented by the word/phrase in question. Therefore, when examining the figurative meaning behind the monster's creation.

The literal creation of the monster is relatively straightforward. Victor took great care, and concern, regarding the creation of his "son."

As the minuteness of the parts formed a great hindrance to my speed, I resolved, contrary to my first intention, to make the being of a gigantic stature; that is to say, about eight feet in height, and proportionably large. After having formed this determination, and having spent some months in successfully collecting and arranging my materials, I began.

His limbs were in proportion, and I had selected his features as beautiful. Beautiful!

One can see that Victor took much care, questioned his own ability, and selected the "parts" with careful consideration.

As for the figurative meaning associated with the creation of the monster, the monster's creation represents a blasphemous act. In essence, Victor has sinned against God, thrown the balance of nature askew, and assumed the ability of "child-birth" as his own. Figuratively, the creation of the monster represents Victor's refusal to accept mortality, the laws of nature, and religious ideology.

Therefore, the making of the monster, figuratively, represents the moment in time where the balance of nature shifts. Women, through God, were no longer the sole gender who could give life--man, through Victor, have claimed ultimate authority over life.

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