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The Use of Foreshadowing in Mary Shelly’s Frankenstein

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“But I forget I am moralizing in the most interesting part of my tale; and your looks remind me to proceed.” (33) Foreshadowing is an important part of any novel. It can be use to heighten suspense because as a reader is going through a novel the foreshadowing is telling them that something bad is about to happen and it is their job to follow the clues and try to guess what it is. Through out the novel “Frankenstein” by Mary Shelley, the three main narrators Victor, the Monster, and Walter, each use foreshadowing. Each of the narrators uses foreshadowing in a different way. Some of the narrators like victor are much more obvious in their hints as to what is going to happen than others.

“If the Study to which you apply yourself had 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,”(33). In this quote Victor is speaking about how if something you are doing takes up all your free time and makes you neglect the other aspects of your life it certainly cannot be good. In this quote Victor is also foreshadowing the completion of his monster and the effect it will have on his life. This is an example of the most blatant foreshadowing in the novel; this book was written as if Victor was relating it out loud to William. As a result of this most of the foreshadowing victor does is extremely blatant because when a person is telling a story it is hard for them to keep from foreshadowing the ending through there body language, tone, or the way they tell the story. Because Shelly could not convey tone or body language through written words she had to make the foreshadowing victor does much more blatant to keep the suspense of the story.

“One day, when I was oppressed by cold, I found a fire which had been left by some wandering beggars, and was overcome with delight at the warmth I experienced from it. In my joy I thrust my hand into the live embers, but quickly drew it out again with a cry of pain. How strange, I thought, that the same cause could produce such opposite effects!”(69) In this quote by the monster, shows the style in which he foreshadows in this story. This was one of the monster’s earliest experiences where he finds that some things can cause both pleasure and pain. This is foreshadowing for the way almost everything in the book interacts with the monster. A good example of this is the monsters interaction with the family, he gets great pleasure from helping them and watching their actions but as soon as he gets close and shows himself to the family they cause him great pain by rejecting him and leaving the home.

“I greatly need a friend who would have sense enough not to despise me as a romantic and affection enough for me to endeavor to regulate my mind.” (10) The beginning and end of this story are told through letters from Walter, on his ship heading to the North Pole, to his sister back home. In the Beginning Walter laments not having a companion he could talk to on an equal mental level. This is foreshadowing Walters finding of Victor. This is a mix of the melodramatic obvious foreshadowing and the extremely subtle foreshadowing of the monster.

In conclusion, While foreshadowing is an important part of every novel. Sometimes it can be over or even under used. In Mary Shelley’s “Frankenstein” the author takes all three roads using a high degree of foreshadowing with Victor, a medium with Walter, and very low with the monster. All three of these different ways of foreshadowing combine to make a good story.

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