Frankenstein

by

Mary Shelley

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Frankenstein: Imagery 2 key examples

Definition of Imagery
Imagery, in any sort of writing, refers to descriptive language that engages the human senses. For instance, the following lines from Robert Frost's poem "After Apple-Picking" contain imagery that engages... read full definition
Imagery, in any sort of writing, refers to descriptive language that engages the human senses. For instance, the following lines from Robert Frost's poem "After... read full definition
Imagery, in any sort of writing, refers to descriptive language that engages the human senses. For instance, the following lines... read full definition
Chapter 10
Explanation and Analysis—The Ever-Moving Glacier:

In Chapter 10, the novel makes use of sweeping visual imagery as Victor describes climbing Montanvert, a glacier in the Alps:

I remembered the effect that the view of the tremendous and ever-moving glacier had produced upon my mind when I first saw it. It had then filled me with a sublime ecstasy, that gave wings to the soul, and allowed it to soar from the obscure world to light and joy. The sight of the awful and majestic in nature had indeed always the effect of solemnizing my mind and causing me to forget the passing cares of life. I determined to go without a guide, for I was well acquainted with the path, and the presence of another would destroy the solitary grandeur of the scene.

The glacier, a formidable presence, immediately overpowers Victor. He experiences it as an all-encompassing force. This force, rather than frightening him, instead leads him to feel elated, as if he is in a “sublime ecstasy.” His feelings of awe are so extreme that his very soul seems to lift, an image that conveys release. Victor’s experience of nature leads to feelings of great happiness and a reprieve from his troubles. The heightened language and poetic details in this passage are also typical of the Romantic worldview. Romantic authors like Shelley believed the sublime was directly connected to nature, and often presented nature as a force that could offer wonder, transcendence, and relief. 

Explanation and Analysis—The Sublime in Chamounix :

The novel makes use of heightened visual and auditory imagery in Chapter 10 when Victor travels to Chamounix, an Alpine village, and describes the divine nature of the valley through which he roams:

The abrupt sides of vast mountains were before me; the icy wall of the glacier overhung me; a few shattered pines were scattered around; and the solemn silence of this glorious presence-chamber of imperial Nature was broken only by the brawling waves, or the fall of some vast fragment, the thunder sound of the avalanche, or the cracking reverberated along the mountains of the accumulated ice, which, through the silent working of immutable laws, was ever and anon rent and torn, as if it had been but a plaything in their hands. These sublime and magnificent scenes afforded me the greatest consolation that I was capable of receiving. They elevated me from all littleness of feeling; and although they did not remove my grief, they subdued and tranquillised it.

Victor walks in an attempt to “cleanse his soul” and rid himself of guilt after he learns Justine, a young woman the Frankensteins adopt, is falsely convicted of William Frankenstein’s murder. Only Victor knows the Monster is the real murderer. The passage’s descriptions of nature are extremely vivid; Victor notes the colors, textures, and sounds around him. Shelley employs descriptive language purposefully here. The image of broken, scattered branches reflects Victor’s guilt and inner turmoil. Although Victor is sorrowful, nature offers a reprieve, and brings up feelings of the sublime. This is typical of Romantic literature, which sought to emphasize nature as a “living force” that could offer inspiration and convey moral truths.

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