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"'Frankenstein' uses many characteristics of the Gothic genre to arouse the interest of the reader. However Shelley also uses a range of techniques to ensure this engagement."

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Introduction

"'Frankenstein' uses many characteristics of the Gothic genre to arouse the interest of the reader. However Shelley also uses a range of techniques to ensure this engagement." Explore this statement with close reference to significant passages from the novel. The Gothic genre spans the 18th century to the 19th century - essentially to intrigue, scare and horrify the reader. It usually included dark themes such as fear and death and the presence of the supernatural and the placement of events in unfamiliar and mysterious settings, such as haunted castles, ghostly graveyards and wild heaths. Equally, gloomy, thunderous bleak weather was an integral element. Emotions tended to be highly strung and the senses were vital to this genre - sex and seduction contrasted with death usually making a good Gothic tale. The Gothic explores dark desires, which tend to be forbidden in society, and are often linked to sexual inclinations, making it even more appealing to its original conservative Victorian audience. Dark, mythical, grotesque creatures often also feature - such as the vampire, werewolf, or, in this case, Frankenstein's monster. A traditional example of Gothic literature written before 'Frankenstein' is Ann Radcliffe's 'The Count of Udolpho'. It is evident that Shelley has been influenced by writers such as Radcliffe as 'Frankenstein' shares some of the same aspects: the emphasis on fear and terror, the presence of the grotesque and evil, the supernatural and dark, mysterious settings. Another example is Stevenson's 'Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde'. The most striking similarity between this gothic tale and 'Frankenstein' are the paralleled extremes between characters. These explorations into the darker side of humanity are part of why 'Frankenstein' has become such a successful tale. ...read more.

Middle

Shelley suggests that what Victor does and what he creates is unnatural' he goes too far and breaks the laws of nature and what he unleashes into society is disruption and destruction in the form of the monster 'its unearthly ugliness rendered it almost too horrible for human eyes'. This attraction to the monster is part of Shelley's psychological exploration, which engages the reader, where she probes the very ideas of monstrosity and humanity. If the creature's appearance is a visible warning, it is a warning to the readers of Victor's own mistakes, not the monster's. Although the creature's exterior may be horrific, he is, at least initially, not 'frighteningly unnatural', rather he is far more natural and humane than the "father" who rejects him, the villagers who stone him and the ungrateful father who shoots him in chapter 15. It is only when he is exposed to, and suffers from, the viciousness of human society that he himself begins to demonstrate violent behaviour. Herein, lies the tragedy of human nature. William's strangulation is a tragic example of this. When William loaded the monster with insults which '...'carried to despair to my heart, I grasped his throat to silence him and in a moment he lay dead at my feet'. The suspense and horror of this act, is not in the vivid description, but the stark actions 'to silence him' and the finality of 'he lay dead at my feet'. Some of the reader's sympathies have been transferred to the monster, as they begin to understand what drives him to kill. The psychological relationship that exists between Victoria and his creation is very Freudian and sinister. ...read more.

Conclusion

Likewise, the monster acknowledges 'your abhorrence cannot equal that with which I regard myself.' The monster hates himself as much as the reader does and the connotations of 'torturing flames' and 'conflagration' in the monster's last words satisfy the reader's need for him to suffer and pay for his crimes. He is destroyed. In its exploration of man's psyche, its focus on the dark side of humanity, 'Frankenstein' sets a trend for later Victorian Gothic novels such as Wilde's 'The Picture of Dorian Gray'. The novel 'Frankenstein' refuses to distance the reader from the horrors described but insists instead on exploring the complex human issues raised; they draw on science, not superstition, on what is frighteningly possible and familiar rather than entirely absurd and alien. This technique of tangibility is more frightening than the abstract world of vampires and werewolves. While 'Frankenstein' is generally identified as a Gothic novel, Mary Shelley, whilst using the more traditional elements of this genre also encompasses new elements which engage the readers interest, including reference to the scientific debates and discoveries of her time based on secular and materialistic elements of nature. Shelley manages to combine traditional Gothic features with elements such as birth and creation, alienation, psychology and sociology, science and social critique, all of which add dimension to the tale. It also has a moralistic air: the idea that society itself is monstrous - how do we define the monstrous and how the human? Can we distinguish between the two? 'Frankenstein' very much began the genre of the psychological thriller, where man can see himself reflected in the characters he reads about, exploring the old adage that man is fascinated by the evil men do. ?? ?? ?? ?? Alex Kingcome - 1 - 11:0 ...read more.

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