Frankenstein

by

Mary Shelley

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Frankenstein: Personification 2 key examples

Definition of Personification
Personification is a type of figurative language in which non-human things are described as having human attributes, as in the sentence, "The rain poured down on the wedding guests, indifferent... read full definition
Personification is a type of figurative language in which non-human things are described as having human attributes, as in the sentence, "The rain poured down... read full definition
Personification is a type of figurative language in which non-human things are described as having human attributes, as in the... read full definition
Chapter 13
Explanation and Analysis—Lichen on Rock:

In Chapter 13, when the Monster discovers its own ugliness and realizes people have been judging it based on its appearance rather than its nature, he describes the experience of gaining this knowledge through personification and simile: 

Of what a strange nature is knowledge! It clings to the mind when it has once seized on it like a lichen on the rock. I wished sometimes to shake off all thought and feeling.

The Monster personifies knowledge as something that "clings" to a mind. Of course, knowledge isn't a living thing that is capable of holding onto anything, but someone's awareness of knowledge can feel so overpowering and inescapable that it's as if knowledge were alive. Similarly, the Monster likens his experience to that of lichen becoming attached to a rock. Like the lichen that becomes stuck to the rock's surface, gaining knowledge is irrevocable—one cannot easily take back or turn away from something one has learned.

The Monster’s desire to remove “all thought and feeling” suggests that the experience of knowledge is also a burden he wishes to be free of. The prejudice the Monster experiences leads him to believe in the “barbarity of man.” Like Elizabeth, William, and Victor, the Monster, too, loses innocence. 

Chapter 16
Explanation and Analysis—Shining in Mockery:

In Chapter 16, the Monster is rejected by the De Lacey family. The Monster, in a fit of rage and loneliness, personifies the wilderness around it:

 The cold stars shone in mockery, and the bare trees waved their branches above me; now and then the sweet voice of a bird burst forth amidst the universal stillness. All, save I, were at rest or in enjoyment; I, like the arch-fiend, bore a hell within me, and finding myself unsympathized with, wished to tear up the trees, spread havoc and destruction around me, and then to have sat down and enjoyed the ruin.

The Monster’s psychological state is mirrored in the surrounding landscape, all through vivid and precise visual and auditory details. The stars, despite their brightness, lack warmth. The trees appear to make fun of the Monster, as does the bird, taunting with its “sweet voice.” The Monster’s attribution of human qualities to the stars, trees, and bird reflects a profound sense of abandonment and a desire for human companionship and acceptance. To him, the surrounding elements are not lifeless. In fact, they are not unlike the De Laceys and Victor, humans who reject him out of prejudice and fear.

The Monster also uses a simile, comparing itself to an arch-fiend, an allusion to the Devil in Milton’s Paradise Lost. The heightened language that follows conveys just how tormented the Monster feels. All in all, the passage generates a feeling of sympathy for the Monster. 

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