Mary Shelley uses many literary devices in Frankenstein. In chapters 18 and 19, literary devices include alliteration, allusion, anaphora, apostrophe, hyperbole, and rhetorical question.
Alliteration is the repetition of initial consonants. When Victor’s friend Henry Clerval is describing impressive scenery, he uses alliteration with the W sound: “when the wind tore up whirlwinds of water.”
Allusion is an indirect or vague reference to historical events, real people, or fictional characters. Within his descriptions of his visit to England, Victor both directly refers to historical events, such as the Spanish armada, and alludes to events with which readers would probably be familiar, such as the overthrow and murder of King Charles I.
The whole nation had forsaken his cause to join the standard of parliament and liberty.
Similarly, as they wander through Oxford, Victor alludes to another incident from that era, featuring an opponent of the king.
We visited the tomb of the illustrious Hampden, and the field on which that patriot fell.
Anaphora is the repetition of a phrase at the beginning of successive sentences or phrases. This device creates unity and may stir emotion. Clerval uses anaphora in his long speech about the scenery. He begins with “I have seen” and repeats this twice, varying it with “I have visited.” The length of the speech and the repetition lead to the point he is making, which is to accentuate his strong preference for where they are now, in Switzerland.
“I have seen,” he said, “the most beautiful scenes of my own country; I have visited the lakes of Lucerne and Uri ... I have seen this lake agitated by a tempest ... I have seen the mountains of La Valais, and the Pays de Vaud: but this country, Victor, pleases me more than all those wonders.”
Apostrophe is direct second-person address to another person, often one who is absent, an object, or an abstract idea. As Victor reflects on his journey through Switzerland with Clerval, he addresses his absent friend.
Clerval! beloved friend! even now it delights me to record your words.
Victor uses apostrophe again in speaking to Clerval.
Your form so divinely wrought ... but your spirit still visits and consoles your unhappy friend.
Hyperbole is extreme exaggeration for effect. Victor uses hyperbole when he thinks about the disadvantages of using his family home while making the creature’s mate. He exaggerates the number of possible disasters.
I knew that a thousand fearful accidents might occur.
Another example of Victor using a “thousand” in this way occurs regarding the numerous emotions that Elizabeth feels when he departs for England.
A thousand conflicting emotions rendered her mute as she bade me a tearful silent farewell.
After he reaches England, he waits for letters from home, using the same hyperbolic quantity.
I was miserable, and overcome by a thousand fears.
A rhetorical question is one to which the answer is already known or predetermined. When Victor wonders what happened to Clerval’s essence, he asks:
And where does he now exist? Is this gentle and lovely being lost forever?