Contrast: An Obvious Difference Between Two Or More Things
“Yin and yang, male and female, strong and weak, rigid and tender, heaven and earth, light and darkness, thunder and lightning, cold and warmth, good and evil…the interplay of opposite principles constitutes the universe.”
As I began reading the classic story of Frankenstein by Mary Shelley, a striking contrast became increasingly prominent. It immediately captured my attention the unmissable differences between Victor Frankenstein and Elizabeth Lavenza. From my perspective, it was interesting to observe such a dramatic difference in their personalities being that they came from the same household. On one hand, readers learn about Victor’s desire to study and immerse himself in the sciences and philosophies of the ancient world such as the scholar Cornelius Agrippa (Shelley 38). It seemed to me that while Victor tends to isolate and distance himself from his family and friends, Elizabeth cares deeply for her loved ones. I found it intriguing that Shelley choose such contrasting personalities that still have a strong relationship. The characterization of either further cements the different perspective they hold on the world. Shelley directly addresses this, Victor says, “Elizabeth was of a calmer and more concentrated disposition; but,with all my ardour, I was capable of a more intense application and was more deeply smitten with the thirst for knowledge.” (Shelley 35). I found the most enjoyment in the fact that Victor and Elizabeth progressively became more different from each other as Shelley has the characters face challenges within their daily life. For me, the most drastically different reactions of the two resulted after the murder of William; Elizabeth is in extreme grief whereas Victor seems mildly upset and almost inconvenienced with having to travel home to aid in the trial of Justine (Shelley 85). This moment hooked me on the interactions of the characters, finding their reactions to solidifies their traits as opposites. For me, this acted as an element of suspense, as it was always in the back of my mind on how Elizabeth would react to the”monster” Victor had created even more than that what it would do to their relationship. It is because of the reaction I am expecting from Elizabeth when she finds out the atrocities of Victor’s actions that I am compelled to devotedly pursue my reading of Frankenstein.
To me, Shelley’s use of contrasting personalities of characters that are complete polar-opposites, is an element that I see so often in modern literature. For me, it gives a familiar feeling in a novel filled with such gloom and eeriness, making Frankenstein both classic yet timeless in it’s innovative writing style on the behalf of Mary Shelley. Overall I feel that the characterization of Victor and Elizabeth its an underappreciated aspect of the acclaimed Gothic story, that is fascinating.
Confucius. goodreads. 2018. 26 April 2018. <https://www.goodreads.com/quotes/tag/opposites>.
Shelley, Mary. Frankenstein. New York: Penguin Group (USA) Inc., 2013. 26 April 2018.
University, Cambridge. Cambridge Dictonary. 2018. 26 April 2018.