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Mystery in Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein

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1 Mystery in Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein
Stephanie Walker & Matthew Wakhu Mrs. Munoz 3rd Period

2 2000 AP test Prompt Many works of literature not readily identified with the mystery or detective story genre nonetheless involve the investigation of a mystery. In these works, the solution to the mystery may be less important than the knowledge gained in the process of its investigation. Choose a novel or play in which one or more of the characters confront a mystery. Then write an essay in which you identify the mystery and explain how the investigation illuminates the meaning of the work as a whole. Do not merely summarize the prompt.

3 Understanding The prompt
Simply put, the student must identify the mystery of the novel and explain how it affects the work as a whole and what it means to the story. More specifically, how does mystery in Frankenstein pertain to and affect the plot of the novel?

4 In Relation to Frankenstein
The mysteries of science are explored and expanded by Victor’s obsessive work in the field of anatomy and his attempts “to create life”. As the creature lives near the De Lacey’s and explores the natural world, he is rejected by society for his abnormalities. In his lonesome, the creature is forced to learn the mysteries of love, affection, and family and the unfortunate truth that he cannot experience compassion, causing him to commit malicious acts and exact his vengeance on his creator.

5 Victor and His Mystery “From this day natural philosophy, and particularly chemistry, in the most comprehensive sense of the term, became nearly my sole occupation” (Shelley 29). “…I beheld the corruption of death succeed to the blooming cheek of life…” (Shelley 30) “Although I possessed the capacity of bestowing animation, yet to prepare a frame for the reception of it, with all its intricacies of fibers, muscles, and veins, still remain a work of inconceivable difficulty and labor” (Shelley 32). Each quote is connected to Victor’s interest in the “mystery” of science.

6 The Creature and His Mystery
“I heard of the slothful Asiatics; of the stupendous genius and mental activity of the Grecians; of the wars and wonderful virtue of the early Romans--of their subsequent degenerating--of the decline of that mighty empire; of chivalry, Christianity, and kings” (Shelley 84). “There was none among the myriads of men that existed who would pity or assist me; and should I feel kindness towards my enemies? No: from that moment I declared everlasting war against the species, and, more than all, against him who had formed me, and sent me forth to this insupportable misery” (Shelley 97). Each quote is connected to the creature’s exploration of the world and the mysteries of human nature.

7 Thesis In Mary Shelley’s novel, Frankenstein, the concept of mystery, in relation to Victor and the Creature, is explored throughout the story as a depiction of modern curiosity towards sciences and the reality of human nature. This thirst for knowledge is simply an obsession over anatomy, leading to the creation of life. The revelation about human nature leads to self-awareness and allows for criticism of society and its norms.

8 Significant Moments Frankenstein’s curiosity with the mysteries of science and his obsession to explore the possibilities of animation. He explores deep into the mystery of anatomy and animation of a body, resulting in his successful creation of life. When Frankenstein’s creature becomes self-aware and intelligent. The creature becomes knowledgeable and learns the mysteries of human nature and society’s outlook and attitude towards outcasts.

9 Allusion in Frankenstein
"Remember, that I am thy creature; I ought to be thy Adam, but I am rather the fallen angel, whom thou drivest from joy for no misdeed” (Shelley 69). Just like God created mankind and the universe, Victor created the Creature. There are many allusions, biblical or not, laced throughout the novel.

10 Irony in Frankenstein "You are my creator, but I am your master; -obey!" (Shelley 122). In this quote, the creature asserts dominance over the man who gave him life. Despite this feeling of superiority, Victor maintained some form of control over the creature as he was the only person capable of creating a female companion for the creature. Mary Shelley may have chosen irony to demonstrate the effect of the world on the creature’s mindset.

11 Foreshadowing in Frankenstein
"How dangerous is the acquirement of knowledge and how much happier that man is who believes his native town to be the world, than he who aspires to become greater than his nature will allow"(Shelley 31). This quote foreshadows not only Victor’s success in his work but it also hints at the tragic consequences to follow.

12 Citations Shelley, Mary. Frankenstein. Ed. Stanley Appelbaum and Candace Ward. New York: Dover Publications, Print.

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