Mary Shelley’s use of foreshadowing in Frankenstein is what makes the novel the true horror story that it is. It allows for that kind of suspense that keeps you on the edge of you chair, biting your nails, but most importantly it keeps the reader turning the page.
One of the first uses of foreshadowing we see in the novel is a major clue for the reasoning of Victor’s journey. He writes “One man’s life or death were but a small price to pay for the acquirement of the knowledge which I sought” (Shelley 22). This foreshadows the difficulties that Victor will be presented with because of his selfish thirst for knowledge that will lead him to carelessly creating a life he has no intention to take care of. Even the night that Victor creates his monster its dark and dreary which suggests something ominous is happening. Later in the novel, Victor also foreshadows the death of Henry while retelling their journey throughout Europe: “…these ineffectual words are but a slight tribute to the unexampled worth of Henry…” (Shelley 236). The way that Victor speaks in past tense and the use of the word “tribute” gives the reader clues that Henry will die later on as the story continues.
Whenever Victor is significantly positive when talking about a friend or family member, inevitably something bad is about to happen. For example, In Chapter 18 Clerval joins Victor. Victor describes him as:
“alive to every new scene, joyful when he saw the beauties of the setting sun, and more happy when he beheld it rise and recommence a new day.” (Shelley 147).
It seems like whenever someone is happy in this novel death is just around the corner. It’s always too good to be true. Another example of this is Elizabeth’s letters from chapter six, which focuses on just how precious William is and then just a few pages later he’s is dead.
There’s no doubt that Mary Shelley abuses this particular use of narration to give readers a warning or indication of future events that will take place in her classic novel. It truly wouldn’t be Frankenstein without foreshadowing.
Written By: Eve Cornell
Shelley, M. (1831). Frakenstein (Third ed.). London: Henry Colburn and Richard Bentley.
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