What does Victor use to make his creature? How graphic is Mary Shelley when describing it?

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Linnea Archibald eNotes educator| Certified Educator

As mentioned already, Victor does use the body parts of the dead in creating his monster, however, he also uses pieces of dead animals. The line about "the dissecting room and the slaughterhouse" (Frankenstein chapter 4) reveals that not only has Victor stolen bodies from mortuaries and graves, but also used animal body parts to complete his creature. While Victor originally tries to create life just out of human parts, it seems he runs out of un-corrupted bodies and has to resort to the animal dead. While Shelley is not overly graphic about the process itself, the connotations are still quite terrifying. The closest thing to a description of the creature she gives is in chapter 5 when the creature is brought to life: 

"His yellow skin scarcely covered the work of muscles and arteries beneath; his hair was of a lustrous black, and flowing; his teeth of a pearly whiteness; but these luxuriances only formed a more horrid contrast with his watery eyes, that seemed almost of the same colour as the dun white sockets in which they were set, his shrivelled complexion, and straight black lips.”

Although the creation of the monster is fairly tame, it suggests such horror and his creature is so grotesque that it's more than enough to shock the reader. According to the story, when Mary Shelley was first telling her story and got to the section of the story when the creature comes to life, her husband, Percy Shelley, ran from the room screaming. If that's not effective storytelling, then nothing is!

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pippin1313 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Victor uses body parts from the dead to make his creation. Shelley is not graphic in modern terms when describing the collection of these parts:

"Who shall conceive the horrors of my secret toil, as I dabbled among the unhallowed damps of the grave, or tortured the living animal to animate the lifeless clay?"

"The dissecting room and the slaughterhouse furnished many of my materials; and often did my human nature turn with loathing from my occupation..."

The connotations of the places Victor vists to create his "daemon" are rather horrific and would have shocked Shelley's contemporary audience. The idea of disturbing the dead is still frowned upon but for the time, the thought of it would have been utterly abhorrent.

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