Frankenstein As Gothic Literature Essay

3242 words - 13 pages

In what ways can Mary Shelley's Frankenstein Be considered as a
Gothic novel? Can Gothic literature still appeal to us today?

Gothic Literature was most popular from about 1764 until 1832, a
period of nearly seventy years. At this time there were many
successful and famous authors who wrote books which contained a
somewhat 'gothic theme'. These include the famous Brontë Sisters
with the novels 'Wuthering Heights' and 'Jane Eyre', both of which can
be found on many modern bookshelves of today. As well as the famous
sisters, well know authors, of the time, also included Ann Radcliffe
with her 'Mysteries of Udolpho' and Horace Walpole's 'The Castle of
Otranto'. Amongst the most famous Gothic writers Mary Shelley can also
be found with her chilling story of 'Frankenstein'. Each book of this
period will have contained some key characteristics to make it
distinguishable from other books in history. The characteristics deal
with aspects of the story or novel, and are usually very prominent
within the book. These include the setting, nature, atmosphere,
presence of the supernatural, plot, characters and language of the
story.

Mary Shelley, when writing 'Frankenstein', may have been influenced by
other Gothic writers of her time, as well as ideas and events, which
took place around her. At the same time that Shelley wrote
'Frankenstein' there were many new discoveries taking place and
scientific research was just reaching a higher level. Shelley had a
great understanding of the scientific debates and discoveries of her
time and this was due to her inquisitive streak for the new
discoveries in chemistry, and the secret life that it might provide.
The first stages of the Industrial Revolution were also taking place
and the French Revolution was the start of a new era in history. It is
also known that Shelley reveals an outraged awareness of social
injustice and a passionate desire for reform within her novel. This is
shown through the treatment of a certain character within the book.

When deciding whether Shelley's 'Frankenstein' can be considered a
Gothic novel we have to take into account each aspect of a 'typical
Gothic novel' and compare it with Shelley's work.

In a Gothic novel the setting in which the story has been told usually
consists of a grand castle, (or similar) which may be isolated or at
least very mysterious. The setting may seem dark and eerie and
certainly not familiar. It may also be described as being majestic and
almost medieval in a way. In 'Frankenstein' the tale is not set in one
lone place but in many different and sometimes peculiar settings. For
example, when Victor Frankenstein starts work on his monster he is
said to be working in:

'a solitary chamber, or rather cell, at the top of the house, and
separated from all other apartments by a gallery and staircase'

This produces an image of a hideous workshop in which Victor is
creating another 'human being' of a very different...

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