The sheer power of words is all too often taken for granted. Albeit an integral part of human life on any scale, we’ve grown so accustomed to having it at our disposal that we forget how much it can accomplish, basic communication aside. Words, when strung together in certain ways, have started wars. Words have spawned enmity, and ended it. In Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, and more specifically the passage specified, words provide a testimony directly from the monster as to the reasoning behind his actions and emotions.
Shelley, when writing in the monster’s voice, uses a combination of tone, diction, strategic syntax, and rhetorical devices with the purpose of elucidating to the reader the monster’s intelligence and capacity of rational thought. Because this is the monster’s first actual encounter with Walton, he must speak in a manner that efficiently persuades Walton that he was right to act in the way he did. Walton—or anyone else, for that matter—would inevitably be more inclined to find credibility in the monster’s words if it spoke in an eloquent manner characteristic of an educated human. “[.. the detail which he gave you of them he could not sum up the hours and months of misery which I endured wasting in impotent passions. For while I destroyed his hope, I did not satisfy my own desires. They were forever ardent and craving; still I desired love and fellowship, and I was still spurned,” for example, is far more intellectual than something like “What Victor told you was wrong; no words could represent how miserable I was for most of my life. Even though I killed his loved ones, I wasn’t satisfied. I still wanted a friend, but I was hated. ” In both examples, the same core meaning is evident.
However, in the former (the monster’s actual words), words are utilized in a notably more poignant manner. Tone is also a vitality in the credibility of the monster’s words. In essence, tone lies in the words used and how they are used. Here, the monster is obviously using its wording to emit a sense of sincerity, underlying rage or even sorrow, and intellect. Not only does it utilize a significantly sophisticated vocabulary and syntax, it cites topics close to Walton’s heart and mind: “Why do you not hate Felix, who drove his friend from his door with contumely?
Why do you not execrate the rustic who sought to destroy the saviour of his child? Nay, these are virtuous and immaculate beings! I, the miserable and the abandoned, am an abortion, to be spurned at, and kicked, and trampled on. ” This also puts its tone as one of superiority, perhaps even omnipotence. Still another of the key components of the paragraph given is the monster’s consistent use of rhetorical devices. Such use is a testament to the monster’s intelligence, as well as its comprehension of the pieces of literature it has read.
In the quote “I, the miserable and the abandoned, am an abortion, to be spurned at, and kicked, and trampled on,” the monster uses metaphorical speech and a climatic sentence structure to, so to speak, pull at the reader’s heartstrings. The words, and utilization thereof, are ones that are emotion-heavy and easy to identify with. Further examples of the monster’s strategic use of rhetorical devices are the following quotations: “For while I destroyed his hope, I did not satisfy my own desires.
They were forever ardent and craving; still I desired love and fellowship, and I was still spurned,” and “Even now my blood boils at the recollection of this injustice. ” In these quotes, the monster speaks of its emotions as individual entities, full of life and vulnerability. This further contributes to affecting the reader’s emotion as well as elucidating the monster’s consistent intellect. In employing the aforementioned literary devices, Mary Shelley accomplishes numerous things at once. She forms the monster’s speech in such a way that it makes it inevitable for the reader, as well as Walton, to sympathize with the monster.
The eloquence of syntax and vocabulary utilized provides a testament to the monster’s intelligence, something that surprises readers because monsters are notoriously thought of as dense, brutal creatures. This lowers the mental defenses of the reader. Finally, the entire paragraph elucidates the true caliber of power that the monster holds. In the same way that it uses its physical strength to overpower potential victims, it molds words and sentences into influential, thought-provoking weapons. When confronted with the words the monster uses, most anyone would begin to sympathize with it and glance into its perspective.
The monster, if it wanted to, could have anybody who would listen at its mercy. In one ‘mere,’ paragraph, Shelley employs factors such as tone, diction, syntax and rhetorical devices to elucidate the monster’s intellect, its power, and its recognition of the human mind. On a larger scale, the paragraph specified is a prime example of the power of words in themselves. In this scenario, words were able to turn Walton’s image of the monster as a malign creature into one of the monster as a more intelligent, conscious being. Shelley’s intended effects are varied, and she achieves all of them.