What is the literary term for M. Waldman and the effect that his lecture and guidance have on Victor in Mary Shelley's Frankenstein?

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Your question makes me think about archetypes, and I believe Professor M. Waldman fits the bill for the mentor archetype. In literature, archetypes are typical characters or situations (like quests) that seem to carry figurative, as well as literal, meaning. Typical mentors motivate and inspire the hero of the...

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Your question makes me think about archetypes, and I believe Professor M. Waldman fits the bill for the mentor archetype. In literature, archetypes are typical characters or situations (like quests) that seem to carry figurative, as well as literal, meaning. Typical mentors motivate and inspire the hero of the story—in this case, Victor is loosely defined as the hero—guiding the hero with their superior wisdom. For Victor, Waldman seems like someone who can direct his scientific study and encourage his scientific endeavors; obviously, Victor is not completely honest about his experiment, but it is Waldman who ultimately turns Victor on to the real possibilities associated with science, rather than the magic and pseudoscience that interested him when he was a child.

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M. Waldman, a professor at Ingolstadt where Victor attends college in Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, would typically be considered a flat and/or static character. In the sense that Waldman fails to change or be defined with great detail, he acts as a static and flat character. This said, the impact he has upon Victor proves to be far more important than a simple static character.

 Although readers are not told much about Waldman himself, they are allowed to infer about the great impact he has on Victor and his desire to re-animate life. In fact, in chapter three, Victor enlightens readers about the true impact Waldman has upon him and his studies: “Such were the professor's words—rather let me say such the words of the fate, enouncedto destroy me.” The professor had been speaking about the power of the philosophers and their ability to perform miracles.

 Therefore, Waldman does not only serve as a secondary character in the novel. He, instead, serves as a literary catalyst to Victor’s actions. Without the “pep talk” given by Waldman, Victor may have never ended up on the path which insured his own destruction.

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To answer this question, you will need to return to Chapter Three of this incredible classic, which details our and Victor's first introduction to Waldman and the impact that his teaching had on the young and impressionable Victor Frankenstein. To try and identify the literary devices that are used to explore the seismic consequences his teaching had, consider the following description from Victor about Waldman's opening to his lecture:

Such were the professor's words--rather let me say such the words of fate, enounced to destroy me. As he went on, I felt as if my soul were grappling with a palpable enemy; one by one the various keys were touched which formed the mechanism of my being: chord after chord was sounded, and soon my mind was filled with one thought, one conception, one purpose.

Note the simile that is used to compare the impact of Waldman's lecture to a conflict between Victor's soul and some "palpable enemy." Clearly Waldman's lecture can be compared to lighting some kind of fuse in Victor's inner being, as he feels a tremendous conflict and also he also feels that his fate is being decided. Thus a simile is used to describe the impact of Waldman's lecture on Frankenstein.

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