Personification in Frankenstein
Personification Examples in Frankenstein:
Letter III 1
"the very stars themselves being witnesses and testimonies of my triumph...." See in text (Letter III)
Walton’s passion to conquer nature through making discoveries is strong. Instead of addressing his crew that is traveling with him, he personifies the stars, calling them “witnesses” and “testimonies” of his achievement; it is as if those stars, elements of nature, have already been “conquered” by Walton, having to serve as his “witnesses” and to support his expedition. In this way, Walton is underestimating the power of nature. As the story progresses, the prideful desire to conquer nature will be revealed in other characters and develop into a major theme.
Letter IV 1
"elemental foes of our race...." See in text (Letter IV)
This refers to the uncontrollable forces and obstacles of Nature. Calling such forces “foes” personifies Nature, as if it were an antagonist to those who encounter its forces. It also suggests that the human race is vulnerable to Nature’s oppositions and its overall power.
Chapter II 1
"It was a strong effort of the spirit of good; but it was ineffectual. Destiny was too potent, and her immutable laws had decreed my utter and terrible destruction...." See in text (Chapter II)
The “strong effort of the spirit of good” represents Nature’s final attempt to turn Victor away from the path of self-destruction. However, Victor’s stubborn and prideful character causes him to ignore Nature’s efforts, making them “ineffectual.” After creating the monster, Victor realizes that Destiny, with laws “immutable,” or never-changing, has “decreed” his “terrible destruction” for his crime of creation. Shelley personifies Destiny, giving it agency and authority, emphasizes its power.
Chapter IV 1
"and the moon gazed on my midnight labours, while, with unrelaxed and breathless eagerness, I pursued nature to her hiding-places...." See in text (Chapter IV)
Night is often associated with suspicious or immoral actions. Victor’s conducting his work and experiments at midnight implies that he is doing wrong. Yet, he cannot hide. Nature, represented by the moon, is watching Victor’s actions. Regardless, Victor continues to chase Nature down to her “hiding-places,” which implies that she does not wish to be found. Moreover, Victor’s sense of “unrelaxed and breathless eagerness” shows that he is anxious and acknowledges his wrongful behavior but still wishes to commit it.
Chapter VII 1
"I saw the lightning playing on the summit of Mont Blanc in the most beautiful figures...." See in text (Chapter VII)
Shelley personifies lightning to help us visualize the view that Victor is experiencing, allowing further understanding of Victor’s emotions in relation to the sublime. Also, such a description of lightning playing on the mountain suggests that Nature is playful, yet should be highly respected.