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Frankenstein and The Red Room

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In this essay I am going to look at contrasts and similarities between chapter 5 of ‘Frankenstein’ and ‘The Red Room’, I will point out these similarities and differences of literary features, main themes and how characters and settings are described. Firstly both writers use first person, Mary Shelley uses first person for Victor Frankenstein, “I collected the instruments of life around me” the use of first person is to put you into Frankenstein’s mind and body so that you always know what he is doing, his emotions and thoughts.

H. G. Wells also uses first person for the scientific young man this is to give the same effect of feelings and thoughts; “the effect was scarcely what I expected” if first person was not used and third person was we would not be able to put ourselves into their position and the detail would not be so fine. Secondly, the ways in which Shelley describes Frankenstein’s monster is similar to H. G. Wells’ describing of the third old man although there are some differences; H. G. Wells uses plenty of punctuation alike does Mary Shelley, throughout the description of both, there is a lot of punctuation.

In the describing of the characters H. G. Wells uses repetition of the word “more”, “more bent, more wrinkled, more aged” this short statement gives a sharp and snappy effect being more to the point. Whereas Shelley’s use of vivid description “His yellow skin scarcely covered the work of muscles and arteries beneath… ” the oxymoronic describing of Frankenstein’s monster has a flowing effect to make him sound attractive which is self contradictory as the words chosen later on in the description like “horrid”, “shrivelled” and, “straight black lips” tell you that in actual fact this creature is disgustingly morbid.

Thirdly, both writers use sibilance for effects; H. G. Wells uses sibilance to give a very spooky and mysterious effect, “I heard the sound of a stick and a shambling step” the repeated use of the letter ‘s’ gives a hissing sound and is very harsh and jumpy. Likewise Mary Shelley uses sibilance to give a harsh sound this is used in the words “lustrous” and “luxuriance’s” these words would usually be used in a positive manner to give you a sense of perfection but due to the amount of sibilance that are in the sentences in which these words are contained, it has a more so harsh sound rather than the usual hissing sound.

In addition to the similarities between both writers, pathetic fallacy is another literary feature used by H. G. Wells and Mary Shelley, the use of this is to cunningly explain feelings and emotions felt by everybody in the scene. Mary Shelley uses this in “the rain pattered dismally against the panes” to show that Victor Frankenstein was anxious and nervous. The word dismally shows how dreary and tired Frankenstein is so this is depicted in the weather, H. G.

Wells uses pathetic fallacy for the same reason, to slyly tell you how the character is feeling without them having to admit it this is shown in the statement: “the candle in the alcove suddenly went out” this shows us that the man is feeling nervous and on edge, confused as to what will happen during his time in the red room. The tension in chapter 5 of Frankenstein is very different to the amount of tension in The Red Room; this is shown because Victor Frankenstein has been preparing for years for this moment of bringing his creation to life.

Whereas the scientifically minded young man in The Red Room has not wanted this for as long as Frankenstein has done. This is shown by “I had worked hard for nearly two years, for the sole purpose of infusing life into an inanimate body. For this I had deprived myself of rest and health. I had desired it with an ardour that far exceeded moderation; but now that I had finished, the beauty of the dream vanished, and breathless horror and disgust filled my heart.

Going deeper into the idea that Frankenstein has been waiting a long time for his creation to be brought to life, this statement shows that now he has been brought to life he is appalled by the creation, and is very let down because he thought that this would be an amazing invention and bring power on himself. In addition to this, Hubris, the sin of over-reaching, plays a big part in Frankenstein’s disappointment, if he hadn’t been so arrogant and try to create eternal life he wouldn’t have to put up with the dire consequences to follow his idea of triumphing death.

Frankenstein was playing God and regrets his actions as soon as the monster comes to life “I had selected his features as beautiful. Beautiful! Great God! ” this sentence shows his repulsion in the words “beautiful” the first beautiful is a genuine use of the word, whereas the second use of the word is contradictory and means exactly the opposite to what the word really means, this second use of the word beautiful is truthful as the monsters description later on in the chapter shows that he isn’t beautiful.

In contrast to this point, in The Red Room the character is very proud of himself and big-headed but with his over-reaching he takes a fall. “It will take a very tangible ghost to scare me. ” This is proving that he is not scared of anything supernatural because he doesn’t believe in it. Finally, another major theme is the Manichean effect of good vs. evil and light vs. dark; this is used in both stories.

Firstly In Frankenstein when Mary Shelley compares the darkness of the sky to the beautiful light of the church as there is such a large contrast between both things, this is proven in “Morning, dismal and wet, at length dawned, and discovered to my sleepless and aching eyes the church of Ingolstadt, its white steeple and clock, which indicated the sixth hour,” In similarity to this is the effect of the lights flickering out giving darkness instead of the light meant to be given from the candles in The Red Room “As the mantel emerged from the darkness again, two candles in the remoter end of the window were eclipsed” this shows how competitive the dark and the light are.

They both want to have it their way. In conclusion to this although the books are written in different time periods there are only minor differences in the ways they create tension and atmosphere. Mary Shelley and H. G. Wells’ both create tension using the same effects, I realised that this is due to the two books being of the same genre, gothic horror. Both authors use the same themes, techniques and ways of creating tension yet Frankenstein has a distinct seriousness about it and The Red Room rather humorous.

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