Kristin McOlvin

April 12th, 1999

Mr. Loeffler

English 12

Lack Of Verisimilitude in Frankenstein

In Mary Shelly's gothic novel Frankenstein, the reader must

suspend disbelief during many crucial points in the plot. There are

also many inconsistencies in the minor details of the story. This lack

of verisimilitude may be noticed by readers today, but in the ninteenth

century, when this novel was written, readers were too terrified with

the story line to notice the unlikelihood of many of the happenings.

For example, the moment that Frankenstein gave life to the

previously inanimate form of the being he made, he remains fixed to

the spot while the gigantic monster walks away. Than Frankenstein

never hears any more from him for nearly two years. The author

supposed that Frankenstein has the power to communicate life to

dead matter, but how do we suppose this creature learns habits? If

Frankenstein could have endowed his creature with the vital principle

of a hundred beings, it would have not have been able to walk without

previously having done so, just as it would not be able to talk, reason,

or judge. Victor does not pretend that he could endow it with faculties

as well as life, and yet when it is about a year old we find it reading

Werter, and Plutarch and Volney. The whole detail of the

development of the creature's mind and faculties is full of these

inconsistencies. After the creature leaves Frankenstein, on the night

it came to life, it wanders for sometime in the woods, and than takes

up residence in a kind of shed adjoining to a cottage. Here it remains

for many months without the inhabitants knowing, and learns

to talk and read by watching them through a whole in the wall.

As you can see from my examples, Mary Shelly's novel

Frankenstein lacks much verisimilitude. I have given you examples

of the monster alone, but these unlikihoods go on throughout the plot

as well. This is not unfamiliar for a science fiction, as well as a gothic

novel, where many times belief must be suspend in order to get the

effect to author is trying to put out.