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What would an analysis written as a literary or film critic be like for "The Mortal...

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nurse2007 | eNoter

Posted July 7, 2013 at 6:37 AM via web

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What would an analysis written as a literary or film critic be like for "The Mortal Immortal: A Tale," by Mary Shelley, with consideration given to various aspects including the literary/filmatic elements of plot, theme, setting, character, point of view and the literary/filmatic technique of symbolism?

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K.P.L. Hardison | College Teacher | eNotes Employee

Posted July 7, 2013 at 5:27 PM (Answer #1)

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If you address this as a film from a film critic's perspective, you might say it is a C level film in the film noir genre with a strong dose of German Expressionism guiding its cinematography and characterization. [German Expressionism: side-tilted camera angles, high-angle shots, dim lighting, spot lighting with a dark background, dingy mise en scene, dream-like quality etc.] These are not deemed compliments today though they are characteristics of contemporary cult films and would have been both popular and genre defining in earlier cinematic eras and in Shelley's literary era.

If you address this as from a literary critic's perspective, you might say this is an over-sentimentalized example of early Gothic in the Romantic period that shows the author's poor mastery of her artistic effort as her male narrator fades in and out of credulity. "He" initially presents "himself" with the voice of a female narrator (with Mary Shelley's voice) from the first words, "This is a memorable anniversary for me," until the surprise revelation that a male is narrating:

lingered a dark-haired girl, .... I cannot remember the hour when I did not love Bertha;....

As a critic, you might also note the looseness of the author's style that alternately bores then interests the reader as the author alternately loses her focus and persona then is absorbed by it:

Loose: I will tell my story, and my reader shall judge for me. I will tell my story, and so contrive to pass some few hours of a long eternity, ...

Focused: I ceased to be the scholar of Cornelius, but I continued his friend. I always felt grateful to him ...

A critic might also say that the author's attempt at parodying the stereotypes held by men about women goes awry as she combines the ludicrous with the serious. Parody carried to the level of the most ludicrous is effective when combined with the humor of satire but when combined with the sentimentality of Gothic it becomes jarring melodrama:

[she] dismissed me in scorn, and vowed that any man should possess her hand rather than he who could not be in two places at once for her sake. She would be revenged!

For critiques in both film and literature, the plot is interesting; the characters overblown and drawn with too much exaggeration; the theme of immortality is a universally intriguing one; the point of view, being a first-person participant, is a good choice and renders the narrative cinematic; the symbolism (where any can be found) is drowned by the parody carried to the level of the ludicrous; the settings (with it's forest symbolism) are apt ones in which the dangerous town life challenges the nurturing, natural pastoral life.

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