Metaphor in Frankenstein

Metaphor Examples in Frankenstein:

Letter IV 1

"draught..."   (Letter IV)

Draught, is the British spelling of draft, which can refer to a breeze, or a drink. Shelley uses it metaphorically here; Victor is essentially asking if Walton has also drunk from the fountain of knowledge. Victor’s calling the draught intoxicating reflects how thirsty for knowledge he truly is. Regardless, he goes on to warn Walton about the dangers of pursuing knowledge by sharing his own experience.

"one by one the various keys were touched which formed the mechanism of my being: chord after chord was sounded, and soon my mind was filled with one thought, one conception, one purpose...."   (Chapter III)

Frankenstein describes, using the image of playing a piano, the moment that his obsession entirely overcomes him. Frankenstein is represented by the piano, which produces sound by depressing keys that then strike chords in the piano’s interior. An outside force—Waldman’s words—causes Frankenstein’s “keys” to trigger, and now he is filled with nothing but the echoing sounds of his ambition: “I will pioneer a new way, explore unknown powers, and unfold to the world the deepest mysteries of creation.”

"a churchyard was to me merely the receptacle of bodies deprived of life, which, from being the seat of beauty and strength, had become food for the worm...."   (Chapter IV)

Here, the churchyard, often considered a beautiful and religious place, is stripped of such associations and depicted as food for worms. This metaphor emphasizes not only the death and decay of human life, but also Nature’s power; the human body, once deprived of life, is fed on by worms, which are part of Nature’s work of art.

"allowing myself to be borne away by the stream, I bent my mind towards injury and death..."   (Chapter XVI)

In this metaphor, the creature compares his feelings to a stream. He lets himself be “borne away” by them, suggesting the idea that his feelings are as uncontrollable as nature.

"The night passed away,..."   (Chapter XX)

Shelley cleverly describes the dawn in deadly language: “the night passed away.” This mordant metaphor is fitting, considering that Frankenstein went to sleep fretting over the possibility that his creature might do harm to his beloved Elizabeth. In another instance of the pathetic fallacy, Frankenstein’s psychological state determines the description of the outer world.