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Victor Frankenstein's Illness as Escape Mechanism - Essay Example

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This essay stresses that in Mary Shelley's "Frankenstein", or, "The Modern Prometheus", her eponymous character spends almost the entire novel in a state of poor health. The framing device of Walton's letters means that Victor Frankenstein is “a man on the brink of destruction”. …
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Victor Frankensteins Illness as Escape Mechanism
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Download file to see previous pages The paper highlights that this “nervous fever which confined for several months” is a reaction to the physical exhaustion of the previous two years, as well as to Victor's great guilt at unleashing such “horror and misfortune” upon the world. During the illness, Victor “raved incessantly concerning [the monster on which he had bestowed existence.”
Mary Shelley was born to a famous feminist author who died within two weeks of her daughter's birth. Sickness and death is a key motif in Frankenstein, a vehicle used to move the plot onward in several places. Victor is portrayed as a sickly man to highlight his wrongdoing; in the 1831 Preface, Shelley describes the original idea which spawned the novel: “I saw – with shut eyes, but acute mental vision – I saw the pale student of unhallowed arts kneeling beside the thing he had put together.” Words like pale and unhallowed enhance the sense of innate immorality – sickly takes on the meaning of bilious rather than the more neutral unwell.
This paper makes a conclusion that the protagonist Victor is susceptible to illness as a method of escapism. It is beyond doubt that his ailments succeed in withdrawing him from a reality which he can no longer face, but the escape is ineffective as Victor's bouts of infirmity allow the action to progress, unimpeded, towards his own doom. Victor's susceptibility to sickness reflects the reader's desire to escape from Shelley's nightmarish and all-too-recognizable horror of a person in a position of authority losing their humanity. ...Download file to see next pages Read More
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