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Literary Devices in The Mortal Immortal

Confessional Narrative: Presented in an autobiographical mode, confessional narratives can follow real-life authors or fictional characters. The main purpose of texts written in this style are to recount a subject’s life, including their mistakes, often for the reader to pass judgment. Sometimes confessional narratives take the form of a diary or series of letters, but this is not always the case. Typically, these narratives are written in first-person point of view and focus on interior emotions.

Literary Devices Examples in The Mortal Immortal:

The Mortal Immortal

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"Death! mysterious, ill-visaged friend of weak humanity! Why alone of all mortals have you cast me from your sheltering fold? ..."   (The Mortal Immortal)

Notice the vocabulary choice Winzy uses to characterize his personification of death. To others, death is feared and avoided; to Winzy, he is a “friend” despite his unpleasant appearance. Death’s company is now something that Winzy longs for, seeing it as a refuge and a place of peace from the terrible emotions he must experience now that those he has loved are dead.

"Back to your cage--hawks are abroad!"..."   (The Mortal Immortal)

Notice the abundant use of comparisons to nature that Shelley makes to characterize these people. While Bertha’s youth allows her to move like graceful deer, her guardian “hobbles.” This sets up preference for youth over age, which will be echoed in later scenes. Notice also how Winzy is viewed by Bertha’s guardians: he is a hawk, a predator from which Bertha must be protected.

"I will not attempt to describe the sleep of glory and bliss which bathed my soul in paradise..."   (The Mortal Immortal)

The tone is now hopeful and blissful; Winzy is content beyond words or human comprehension, so description of his state is left more to the imagination than intricately recounted.

"an odour the most fragrant and grateful stole over my sense; the vessel seemed one globe of living radiance, lovely to the eye, and most inviting to the taste...."   (The Mortal Immortal)

This is the first instance of multisensory imagery in the story. Notice how appealing the drink seems to a variety of senses: its appearance is beautiful, eye-catching, and symmetrical while its pleasant scent is left up to the reader’s imagination. This allows the reader to imagine whatever is most alluring, a calculated move by Shelley.

"I will tell my story, and my reader shall judge for me. I will tell my story, and so contrive to pass some few hours of a long eternity, become so wearisome to me. ..."   (The Mortal Immortal)

Here, Winzy outlines his purpose for writing: he wishes to recount his life—and pass some time—so that readers may judge him moral or immoral. This is a typical goal of confessional literature; at the end, readers are left to judge for themselves if all of Winzy’s actions are justified.

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