Passive Voice Verb forms that contain the verb “to be” + the past participle of a verb –The most common forms of “to be” that appear in cases of the passive voice include: »is, are, were, been –Other forms of “to be” include: »am, was, being
To be ≠ passive voice Not all sentences with the verb “to be” are passive. Descriptions of a state of being, for example, (I am tired) requires the verb “to be”, but is not passive. Other examples of “to be” that are not passive: It is clear that… We were certain that… It was evident that… We are confident that… It has been difficult… To be fair is to be good. To be=passive voice You can identify the passive voice when you are writing by looking for a past participle paired with it—most past participles are verbs with an -ed ending, but there are exceptions. “To be” + past participles: Compared Portrayed Argued Written Shown Seen Said
Common cases of the passive voice “To be” + past participles Name the past participle and the form of “to be” It can be seen that… The novel can be compared to… It has been shown that… When this novel is seen from another perspective… It was known that… He was being used by… Mistakes were made…
Examples of the passive voice Frankenstein was not written… The monster… has been abandoned … the creature was previously exposed Victor is exposed… …situations in which judgments are made … the monster is portrayed The demon… is continually denied the monster… is further exemplified sympathy… is illustrated by Similar ideas are brought forth… … the identity of William was previously unknown the creature is described as… He is eloquent… which is shown by… Victor is clearly portrayed as… Frankenstein… is more known for its monster... These connections would never be seen without… Victor’s second quest… is easily compared to… Frankenstein’s creature is deemed a wretch… This is frankly portrayed in Mary’s statement… The theme… can be found in other characters
Fixing the passive voice In groups of 2, try to the rewrite the passive voice case assigned to you 1.As soon as Victor is exposed to the creature, he describes it as a “miserable monster” (35) and a “wretch” (35). 2.Victor’s creation of a living being and the madness that follows is narrated by a critical, scientific mind. 3.Furthermore, the sympathy felt by readers towards the monster is illustrated by the creature’s horrible encounters with human beings. 4.So while these murders detract from his image of being decent and human-like, these acts were produced both directly and indirectly by the selfishness of humanity, particularly Victor Frankenstein.
Sentences that need work Passive voice Short, choppy sentences Run-on, overly long, or bulky sentences Awkward syntax Vague, awkward, or imprecise diction Weak verbs
In groups of 2, try to the rewrite each of the following sentences 1. Short, choppy sentences Combine shorter sentences using semicolon or comma + coordinating conjunction: FOR, AND, NOR, BUT, OR, YET, SO Frankenstein’s monster was forced into the outside world without any knowledge of modern life. His reactions to the world were original to him. He had no prejudicial thoughts. The book clearly shows that after living in both states, the monster was better off as a savage than an educated man.
2. Run-on, overly long, or bulky sentences Split the sentence up with period or semicolon, simplify Victor realizes that what if the monster does not like its female counterpart and they end up hating each other and go their own ways to seek revenge, or worse still what if the two monsters create their own world which all would lead to harm for humans. This is where sympathy for the monster ends.
3. Awkward syntax (word order) Simplify and reorder words; try speaking the sentence aloud When the well-being of the humans comes into danger, the idea of creating a female monster does not seem too practical to Victor.
4. Vague, awkward, or imprecise diction Spend time choosing the right words (often simpler, more descriptive words) Shelley does not try to completely remove all sympathy toward the monster, although she is putting a limit on how much sympathy people should feel for him.
5. Weak verbs Try to use stronger, more descriptive verbs Although the creature is more like a monster when he is murderous, it is important to realize that Frankenstein’s creation is not originally made to be a criminal.
Possible solutions (1) CHOPPY: Frankenstein’s monster was forced into the outside world without any knowledge of modern life. His reactions to the world were original to him. He had no prejudicial thoughts. The book clearly shows that after living in both states, the monster was better off as a savage than an educated man. RUN-ON: Victor realizes that what if the monster does not like its female counterpart and they end up hating each other and go their own ways to seek revenge, or worse still what if the two monsters create their own world which all would lead to harm for humans. This is where sympathy for the monster ends. When Victor casts/thrusts/forces his monster into the world, he had no knowledge or understanding of modern life; he had no prejudicial thoughts, and each of his reactions to the world were original to him. The book clearly shows, in scenes such as these, that the monster was happier as a savage than as an educated man. Victor realizes that what if the monster does not like its female counterpart, they may become enemies or seek revenge on humankind; worse still, the two monsters might create their own world by reproducing, which could be disastrous for humans. This is where sympathy for the monster ends.
Possible solutions (2) SYNTAX: When the well-being of the humans comes into danger, the idea of creating a female monster does not seem too practical to Victor. DICTION: Shelley does not try to completely remove all sympathy toward the monster, although she is putting a limit on how much sympathy people should feel for him. WEAK VERBS: Although the creature is more like a monster when he is murderous, it is important to realize that Frankenstein’s creation is not originally made to be a criminal. Once Victor realizes that a female monster might conspire with his original creature to endanger human beings, the idea no longer seems practical. Shelley does not completely dissolve/dispel sympathy for the creature, but she encourages her readers to limit/restrict/curtail their sympathies him. Although the creature becomes a monster when he murders William, it is important to realize that he did not originally commit any crimes.
2. Evidence Introducing quotations Close reading, revisited
Introducing a quotation It is difficult to understand a quotation if the essay does not explain the context in which it originally appeared. Needs a little work: Even though Victor puts so much life and failures in the idea of fate or destiny, he appears to Walton to have remorse, “The tortures of the accused did not equal mine; she was sustained from innocence, but the fangs of remorse tore my bosom and would not forego their hold” (54). Works well: The word “discovery” appears quite early in the novel, in Walton’s first letter to his sister, Margaret Saville, which he writes aboard a ship sailing for the North Pole. In the letter, Walton compares his feelings on the polar expedition to a child’s joy (8). He reminds her of his uncle’s large library of “discovery” literature (tales of sea voyages and adventures), all of which he devoured as a child. He writes of the disappointment he felt when his father forbade him, on his deathbed, to “embark in a seafaring life” (9). Walton later tells Frankenstein that his crew is on a “voyage of discovery”…
Close reading, revisited … I am now convinced that [my father] was justified in conceiving that I should not be altogether free from blame. A human being in perfection ought always to preserve a calm and peaceful mind, and never to allow passion or a transitory desire to disturb his tranquillity. I do not think the pursuit of knowledge is an exception to this rule. If the study to which you apply yourself has a tendency to weaken your affections, and to destroy your taste for those simple pleasures in which no alloy can possibly mix, then that study is certainly unlawful, that is to say, not befitting the human mind. If this rule were always observed; if no man allowed any pursuit whatsoever to interfere with the tranquillity of his domestic affections, Greece had not been enslaved; Caesar would have spared his country; America would have been discovered more gradually; and the empires of Mexico and Peru had not been destroyed. But I forget that I am moralizing in the most interesting part of my tale; and your looks remind me to proceed. (Shelley 33)
NEXT WEEK… Writing a good summary, using tags to make it clear when an idea you describe in your essay belongs to a particular person Structure & paragraphing: Please read Alexandra Barnett’s essay, “Going Behind the Blinds”, in Write Now and think about paragraphs and transitions between them Colloquialisms & Clichés
Close reading a film What details are important or worth examining? Early in the film, Branagh inserts a very striking and completely fabricated scene into the plot of the story: the horrific scene of Victor’s mother’s death… at almost the exact moment in which she dies, Victor watches as a bolt of lightning hits a tree in his yard and engulfs it in flames. In the novel, Shelley describes the singular moment in his life as the initial spark that generates his interest in science… in Branagh’s film, this sudden burst of inspiration, coupled with the terrible and unexpected death of his mother, imbues Victor with the idea of harnessing life in order to conquer death.
Close reading a film (2) What details are important or worth examining? In his film, Branagh portrays the creation of the monster as a birth, but this birth is a cold and mechanical one. Victor collects amniotic fluid to use in his experiment, but he collects it in a womb constructed of metal… After struggling to pull the monster from the amniotic fluid that insulated the moments of the monster’s life, Victor allows the monster to get caught up and hung in a tangle of chains…