I read the Gothic horror Frankenstein. At Chapter7, Victor went back to his hometown, after his younger brother got killed. As below paragraph:

I could hardly sustain the multitude of feelings that crowded into my mind. I passed through scenes familiar to my youth, but which I had not seen for nearly six years. How altered every thing might be during that time! One sudden and desolating change had taken place; but a thousand little circumstances might have by degrees worked other alterations, which, although they were done more tranquilly, might not be the less decisive. Fear overcame me; I dared no advance, dreading a thousand nameless evils that made me tremble, although I was unable to define them.


Does "desolating change" mean his brother got killed? or Does it means he knew the murder is nearby?


Does "a thousand little circumstances" mean the city had changed by time?


although they were done more tranquilly, might not be the less decisive.

The words "tranquilly&less decisive", does it indicated that the city didn't really change in Vitor's view, compared to knowing his brother's death?

Can I rewrite an easier sentence as below?

"Although the city changed by time, In Vitor's view those changes didn't alter the town. The news that Victor's brother get killed altered the town."

Thanks for your time!

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  • It's not "desolation change". – Hot Licks May 16 at 1:54
  • 1. A "desolating change" is simply a change that causes material or spiritual desolation; you'd have to read the book to know what that change is. 2. "a thousand little circumstances" refers to a multitude of small (non-cataclysmic) causes of change. 3. The phrase "might not be the less decisive" means "might be just as decisive"—so something may change in a gradual, tranquil (that is, nonviolent) way and still result in decisive change. Unfortunately, although your question is about the meaning of words, it amounts to a request for interpretation of the text, which is of-topic at this site. – Sven Yargs May 16 at 2:58
  • Your rewritten sentence is no good -- I'm sorry. Look, writing style from that period can be challenging. Perhaps you would experience less frustration if you started out with slightly easier texts, for now. // Have you taken a look at SE English Language Learners? A wonderful site. – aparente001 May 16 at 4:44
  • 1)yes 2) 'might have' -- he can't decide if he's feeling that way from his brother's death alone or if there are other factors 3) no, it means although they were less dramatic changes they could have been just as meaningful when added up. – S Conroy May 16 at 17:25

The "desolating change" is a change that causes desolation, a feeling of despair, sadness and loneliness. I agree that this change is probably his brother's death.

But Victor also notices many other small changes. These were non-violent and tranquil (unlike his brother's death) but combined these changes were "no less decisive". That is, he thinks that the small changes were as important as the death of his brother to how he is feeling.

He can't tell if he feels afraid mostly because of his brother's death, or because of the lots of other small changes.

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