How Is Figurative Language Used In Frankenstein?

Updated 30 September, 2024
Throughout the novel, Frankenstein, Mary Shelley uses a variety of figurative language to aid with communication of themes and the progression of the storyline. For example, metaphor, personification, allusion, and symbolism.
Detailed answer:

In Frankenstein, Mary Shelley conveys the main theme of relentless pursuit of knowledge ultimately causing more harm than good using figurative language. Victor’s thirst for knowledge leads to his creation being the death of him because of his mistakes.
The dangers of pursuing unknown knowledge is emphasized by the symbolism of light versus darkness. Throughout the novel, light symbolizes knowledge, discovery, and enlightenment and reflects the quest for the secrets in life. On the other hand, darkness symbolizes excessive knowledge blinding an individual to the truth. Light is mentioned in moments of Victor experiencing hope for knowledge, and is also used when Walton is seeking undiscovered knowledge: “What else could be expected in the land of eternal light”? Walton is seeking access to forbidden knowledge in the Arctic and is optimistic about the promise of glory much like Victor with his hopes of bringing the dead back to life. However, darkness is represented by daunting weather when the creature is near Victor or kills his loved ones.
Mary Shelley also utilizes personification to develop the theme of the danger of knowledge. After Victor creates his creation, he goes loose and begins to devastate Victor’s happiness by tormenting him by wiping out his loved ones. The monster kills Victor's youngest brother, and, on the second hand causes Justine Moritz’ death and the declining health of Victor’s family members. “I shunned the face of man; all sound of joy or complacency was torture to me; solitude was my only consolation — deep, dark, deathlike solitude”. The grief that overcame Victor was so great that he felt tortured by even sounds of joy.
An example of allusion is that Shelley borrows from the tale of Prometheus a sense of consequence resulting from seeking enlightenment and power. Victor is her modern incarnation of Prometheus. Prometheus interfered with higher powers even though he does not have the right to do so. He and Victor’s intentions are similar, as they both seeked to obtain knowledge and power. Both Prometheus and Victor are made miserable and suffer harsh consequences for interfering with the forces of nature.
Finally, the Monster is in many ways a metaphor for Victor's life. Indeed, Frankenstein's monster is an outcast — he doesn't belong in human society. Yet the monster's alienation from society, his unfulfilled desire for a companion with whom to share his life, and his ongoing struggle for revenge, are all shared by his creator. As the story develops, Victor becomes increasingly like his creation. Both live in relative isolation from society, both hate their own miserable lives, and both know suffering.

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