What are some literary/rhetorical devices found in chapter one of Frankenstein?

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literaturenerd eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Mary Shelley's Frankenstein is a Romantic-Gothic text. The language of the text is eloquent and beautiful. As part of the vivid images provided by Shelley in the text, she also includes numerous literary/rhetorical devices. 

Although typically found in poetry, alliteration can be found in the text. Alliteration is the repetition of a consonant sound (again, typically within a line of poetry). For example, Big brown bear batted at biting black beavers. The repetition of the "b" sound is alliteration.  "From a flourishing state, fell," from chapter one (paragraph two) is alliteration.

 He strove to shelter her, as a fair exotic is sheltered by the gardener, from every rougher wind.

In the above quote appears a simile. (A simile is a comparison between two typically dissimilar things using "like" or "as.") In this sentence, Victor (actually Walton) is retelling about how Victor's father sheltered Victor's mother--as if she were an exotic flower needing protection. Therefore, the sentence compares Caroline Frankenstein to an exotic flower. 

The sentence also contains a metaphor. (A metaphor is a comparison between two typically dissimilar things, not using "like" or "as.") Victor's father wished to shelter Caroline from "every rougher wind." Rougher wind refers to any challenges she may face in life. Victor's father thought that Caroline had already lived a trouble-filled life and needs to face no more strife. Therefore, the metaphor exists in the comparison between trouble and rough winds. 

edcon eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In chapter one of Frankenstein, Shelley uses first-person narration in the voice of Victor Frankenstein, and the novel begins as a retrospective of prior events. Victor's diction is typically hyperbolic as he describes how his father met and married his mother; Victor's father exhibited "a show of gratitude and worship in his attachment." The narrator's hyperbolic description of his idyllic childhood replete with doting parents ("I was their plaything and their idol") will provide later contrast for the abandonment of the creature by his creator. This first chapter also explains how Elizabeth became his sister and is also hyperbolic: "Everyone loved Elizabeth. The passionate and almost reverential attachment with which all regarded her." The tone with which Shelley instills Victor is self-aggrandizing and melodramatic and perfectly suited to a character that will place himself alongside God as a creator of life. 

Victor uses a metaphor to describe the parenting he received as "a silken cord that all seemed but one train of enjoyment."  Again, this is a highly romanticized way of looking back on his childhood.  His description of Elizabeth as a child is that she was "heaven-sent, and bearing a celestial stamp in all her features."  Metaphorically speaking, Elizabeth is an angel, not a foundling abandoned by two sets of parents. Victor Frankenstein seems incapable of relating objective facts, which calls into question early his reliability as a narrator. His tendency toward overstatement is an integral part of his characterization. 

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Frankenstein

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