The use of metaphor in Shelley's "Frankenstein" and Woolf's "Mrs. Dalloway"

Essay by kayleighblackburn2High School, 12th gradeB-, February 2008

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Both of these classic novels make frequent and extensive use of the literary device of 'metaphor', which in this case we are taking to refer to any figurative use of language where one thing stands for, symbolizes, or represents another. The first novel which we will be looking at is Mary Shelley's "Frankenstein".

Shelley uses a great deal of metaphor in her novel "Frankenstein". One main type is natural metaphors, which she uses as a recuperative instrument for Victor Frankenstein. At the times in the novel when Victor is overcome with sadness due to the murders of his friends and family, which he also feels guilt for, he frequently rejects society for nature to strengthen his spirits and restore his equilibrium. This can be seen even in the earlier chapters of "Frankenstein", where Shelley uses natural metaphors to describe Victor's childhood.

"I feel pleasure in dwelling on the recollections of childhood, before misfortune had tainted my mind, and changed its bright visions of extensive usefulness into gloomy and narrow reflections upon self .

. . I find it arise, like a mountain river, from ignoble and almost forgotten sources; but swelling as it proceeded, it became the torrent which, in its course, has swept away all my hopes and joys"This use of a mountain river to portray Victor's emotions is the establishment of a theme which is continued throughout the novel. This introduction of human feeling being paralleled within nature shows that Shelley prefers to use natural metaphor as opposed to other descriptions; rather then displaying Victor's emotions through discourse or dialogue, she selects the more romantic image of a "[swelling] mountain river".

As stated earlier, Shelley uses nature as a restorative agent for Victor Frankenstein. As the novel progresses, Victor continues to take sustenance from nature,