Regnum number: 122635
Discuss the handling of religious questions in Gothic fiction
Both ‘Frankenstein’ and ‘The Eve of St Agnes’ serve as an example to show the expectations of a 19th century society, each characterized by political, economic, social and religious uncertainty. For example according to 19th century societal context, people were categorized under two subtypes: those affiliated with religion and those who argued that religion was merely allegorical, based on nothing but an individual’s perception of the truth. It was argued that Science was correct and non-allegorical, reflecting the disharmony, presented in England at the time. It inferred that those who believed in science became suppressed and restricted by the traditional beliefs of a religious society, where god’s word was law and the emergence of science was merely a test from god, to see who would keep their religious beliefs. Whilst people may not have had the freedom or courage to oppose traditional and ancient beliefs, Gothic Fiction became the platform on which novelist and poets, alike could express their own opinions freely. Both texts show these underlying religious uncertainties and are shown through imagery, language and style, as well as other literary devices.
Frankenstein or the’ Modern Prometheus’ was written by novelist Mary Shelley in 1819, a creation which both supported and condemned religion. For instance it can be argued that Frankenstein embodied a journey, a progression which began with unremitting belief in religion, a desire to show that religion was the truth and to say otherwise would be considered blasphemy. This is illustrated through the novel’s protagonist Victor Frankenstein, who began by arguing that science is corrupt, seeking ‘immorality and power’ whilst religion is good and pure (Shelley 1818:29). Not only did this admission reflect his own individual beliefs, but it also symbolised the principles of a religious nation, where society and perhaps Shelley, had yet to embrace the concept of science. However, whilst Victor was an emblem for religious obedience it was clear that he would begin to question religion, not only through the emergence and power of science but also through the growing popularity of Gothic Fiction. For example it was known that Shelley was influenced by Gothic Fiction, a genre that thrived on the fantastical and the concept of experimentalism. It suggested that both Gothic fiction and science created a voice for those repressed by religion, allowing writers like Shelley to mirror the doubts of a fragmented society. For example at the beginning of the novel, Shelley showed Frankenstein to be an unwavering supporter of religion despite his opposition little expecting ‘in this enlightened and scientific age to find a disciple’ ( Shelley 1818:29). However he became awakened or enlightened by the revelation of what science could offer him as opposed...