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Analyse the presentation and function of horror and the horrifying in Frankenstein.

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Introduction

Analyse the presentation and function of horror and the horrifying in Frankenstein. I busied myself to think of a story - a story to rival those which had excited us to this task. One which would speak to the mysterious fears of our nature and awaken thrilling horror - one to make the reader dread to look round, to curdle the blood, and quicken the beatings of the heart. If I did not accomplish these things, my ghost story would be unworthy of its name.1 In the Authors introduction to the standard novels edition (1831), Mary Shelley conveys her aim of the novel, Frankenstein. Mary Shelley proclaims her novel "my ghost story" p.8. The proposal of a ghost story relates to supernatural literature, which creates horror with paranormal and occult themes, but Frankenstein in fact has no ghosts. There are no 'bumps in the night' and only the minimum amount of blood with emphasis on telling rather than showing in a story of scientific developments beyond our control. To evoke horror Shelley's novel complies with literature of the gothic genre with its tale of macabre in wild picturesque landscapes but without the ghouls and spirits. Shelley has the ability to horrify us without such paranormal torments but through psychological torments. ...read more.

Middle

The creation seems to depict mothers' worst fears, being capable to accept and have endless love for a child and not reject in the horrific manner that Victor does. The description of the monster is very much similar to that of a newborn baby. Once again the 1994 film adaptation of the novel depicts the monster's first steps similarly to that of a newborn Deer, struggling to find his feet, clutching on to his creator for dear life. As the novel reaches horrific climax in Chapter Five, Victor is awoke from a dream to find "one hand was stretched out" p.56, as his creation asks for help, like a child would to a mother. The way in which this interaction takes place is horrific in that a monster-like creature standing beside his bed awakens Victor, but the manner in which Victor rejects his monster is equally horrific. The creation has no motive for death yet and he is surely asking for help and is abandoned less than a few hours after birth. The novel could be read as a version of what occurs when a man plays god and upsets nature. Trying to create a child without woman is not natural and the horrific incidents which follow act as a warning not to mess with the origins of human life. ...read more.

Conclusion

There is no doubt that through Shelley's language and tone she has the ability to create an atmosphere of terror evoking horrific imagery. Through examining the methods and effectiveness of creating horror in the novel I have concluded the most horrifying words of the novel are in the final chapter of the novel. Farewell, Walton! Seek happiness in tranquillity and avoid ambition, even if it be only the apparently innocent one of distinguishing yourself in science and discoveries. Yet why do I say this? I have myself been blasted in these hopes, yet another may succeed.p.210. We could be tricked into thinking Victor has learnt his lesson giving us a reliable moral conclusion, but similarly to the way the monster plucks out Elizabeth heart, Shelley through Victor snatches our hopes away wishing "another may succeed" p.210, fighting his quest and the horror will continue. Mary Shelley seems almost psychic, predicting recent debates surrounding human cloning and genetically modified goods, so called 'Frankenstein foods'. This cautionary tale is very much rooted in its gothic nature in the nineteenth century although it is thoroughly applicable to the twenty first century. Mary Shelley's novel is horrific in its bloody images of vaults and charnel houses but its real horror is in the depiction of man as a self-centred ambitious creature who can take life into his own hands. 1 Shelley, Mary, Frankenstein, (Penguin Group: Penguin Books, 1818; repr 1994), p. 5. ...read more.

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