Shelly, Mary: Frankenstein: Lack Of Verisimilitude



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Kristin McOlvin
April 12th, 1999
Mr. Loeffler
English 12
Lack Of Verisimilitude in Frankenstein
In Mary Shelly’s gothic novel Frankenstein, the reader must
suspend disbelief during many crucial points in the plot. There are
also many inconsistencies in the minor details of the story. This lack
of verisimilitude may be noticed by readers today, but in the ninteenth
century, when this novel was written, readers were too terrified with
the story line to notice the unlikelihood of many of the happenings.
For example, the moment that Frankenstein gave life to the
previously inanimate form of the being he made, he remains fixed to
the spot while the gigantic monster walks away. Than Frankenstein
never hears any more from him for nearly two years. The author
supposed that Frankenstein has the power to communicate life to
dead matter, but how do we suppose this creature learns habits? If
Frankenstein could have endowed his creature with the vital principle
of a hundred beings, it would have not have been able to walk without
previously having done so, just as it would not be able to talk, reason,
or judge. Victor does not pretend that he could endow it with faculties
as well as life, and yet when it is about a year old we find it reading
Werter, and Plutarch and Volney.The whole detail of the
development of the creature’s mind and faculties is full of these
inconsistencies. After the creature leaves Frankenstein, on the night
it came to life, it wanders for sometime in the woods, and than takes
up residence in a kind of shed adjoining to a cottage. Here it remains
for many months without the inhabitants knowing, and learns
to talk and read by watching them through a whole in the wall.
As you can see from my examples, Mary Shelly’s novel
Frankenstein lacks much verisimilitude. I have given you examples
of the monster alone, but these unlikihoods go on throughout the plot
as well. This is not unfamiliar for a science fiction, as well as a gothic
novel, where many times belief must be suspend in order to get the
effect to author is trying to put out.

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