The Use Of Metaphor In Shelley's "Frankenstein" And Woolf's "Mrs. Dalloway"

3145 words - 13 pages

Both of these classic novels make frequent and extensive use of the literary device of 'metaphor', which in this case we are taking to refer to any figurative use of language where one thing stands for, symbolizes, or represents another. The first novel which we will be looking at is Mary Shelley's "Frankenstein".Shelley uses a great deal of metaphor in her novel "Frankenstein". One main type is natural metaphors, which she uses as a recuperative instrument for Victor Frankenstein. At the times in the novel when Victor is overcome with sadness due to the murders of his friends and family, which he also feels guilt for, he frequently rejects society for nature to strengthen his spirits and restore his equilibrium. This can be seen even in the earlier chapters of "Frankenstein", where Shelley uses natural metaphors to describe Victor's childhood."I feel pleasure in dwelling on the recollections of childhood, before misfortune had tainted my mind, and changed its bright visions of extensive usefulness into gloomy and narrow reflections upon self . . . I find it arise, like a mountain river, from ignoble and almost forgotten sources; but swelling as it proceeded, it became the torrent which, in its course, has swept away all my hopes and joys"This use of a mountain river to portray Victor's emotions is the establishment of a theme which is continued throughout the novel. This introduction of human feeling being paralleled within nature shows that Shelley prefers to use natural metaphor as opposed to other descriptions; rather then displaying Victor's emotions through discourse or dialogue, she selects the more romantic image of a "[swelling] mountain river".As stated earlier, Shelley uses nature as a restorative agent for Victor Frankenstein. As the novel progresses, Victor continues to take sustenance from nature, and uses it as a therapeutic agent when he is grief-stricken or stressed. This can be seen in chapter five, where Shelley uses nature to describe Victor's recovery from serious illness."We passed a fortnight in these perambulations: my health and spirits had long been restored, and they gained additional strength from the salubrious air I breathed, the natural incidents of our progress"In this context, nature is not only used as a metaphor, but it also helps Victor's recovery, as it is the breathing of air which eventually gives Victor strength. Not only does this air restore Victor to his former self; it allows him to gain strength that he did not previously possess. This can be found with the use of the word "salubrious", meaning 'to bring health', which reinforces the idea that the air, and subsequently, nature as a restorative agent. This can also be seen as a cohesive device within "Frankenstein", as frequently it is nature which keeps him sane enough to function, and not friends or family. However, while this obsession with nature begins safely enough, by the end of the novel, it appears disturbing, dangerous, and inappropriate.This...

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