Foreshadowing In Frankenstein
What foreshadowing exists in Frankenstein?
Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
Throughout Shelley's gothic novel, Frankenstein, there is much foreboding that is suggested by
- In the frame story, the events of the novel are foreshadowed by Walton's presumption that he can successfully venture into the icy wilderness
- It is the great forces of nature that drive Victor into his scientific pursuit. (The Romantic view holds that when one tampers with the forces of nature, retribution by nature will follow.)
- On the night of his creation, it is dark and dreary; later comes a "tempest." This suggests ominous happenings.
- When Victor returns home after the death of William, Victor fears what will come,
"Night closed all around, and when I could hardly see the dark mountains, I felt still more gloomily. The picture appeared a vast scene of evil, and I foresaw obscurely that I was destined to become the most wretched of human beings" (72).
- Victor's pursuit of the creature through the dangerous and icy regions of the mountains presage his death.
THE WORDS AND ACTIONS OF CHARACTERS
- Victor states, "It was the secrets of heaven and earth that I desired to learn" (28). His hubris will be his nemesis.
- Victor's rejection of his creature, and running from it when it opens its eyes and smiles at Victor. Rejected and alone, the creature will seek revenge.
- Victor's refusal to confess that he knows who has killed William and the others presages more murders.
- Victor's refusal to create a partner for the creature. The monster will retaliate as promised.
- The creature is feared, rejected, and abused when he reveals himself to the occupants of the cottage, whom he has helped. He will reject humanity for its cruelty to him.
In addition to frequent sybolism, as stated in the previous response, Shelley makes particular use of narration to divulge elements of the plot. Whenever Victor is particularly positive about a friend or family member, disaster is just around the corner. In Chapter 18, for instance when Clerval joins Victor, Victor describes him as "alive to every new scene, joyful when he saw the beauties of the setting sun, and more happy when he beheld it rise and recommence a new day." No one this happy lives long in this novel. Another good example is Elizabeth's letter in Chapter six regarding "little darling William" and his adorable "little dimples." I her very next letter, just a few pages later we learn that "William is dead!"
Shelley reminds us that Victor is narrating his story to Walden aboard the ship. Often, Victor uses apostrophe ("Oh, Henry!") and lets us know how terrible he feels about some later tragedy in the story. Victor has a wonderful memory and is precise about his account of events. It seems that he cannot help but give us some spoilers along the way, though.