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How does Mary Shelley create tension and horror in Frankenstein?

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Introduction

How does Mary Shelley create tension and horror in FRANKENSTEIN ? There are many forms of tension and horror in this novel. There is a monster, there's grave robbing, the whole story is against religion and it is warning the reader that trying to play God can only have bad consequences. The novel is controversial in its content and it focuses on people's prejudice and discrimination together with how people judge others too readily. Another thing that could have been scary for the readers at the time is the idea of electricity bringing life. Since electricity was a reasonably new thing, the concept of this new, weird technology described in the book could have been seen as horrific. Also, the atmosphere was a big part of the horror and tension, pathetic fallacy was used when Dr Frankenstein was creating his monster "It was already one in the morning; the rain pattered dismally against the panes, and my candle was nearly burnt out," It was strange, at the time of the novel being published, for a woman to write a book quite as horrific as Frankenstein. There were many things which could have influenced Mary Shelley in writing a book of this sort, myths, religion, other novels. She could have been influenced by the legends of the poles when creating Robert Walton's character. She was most likely to have been influenced by scientific research and advances at the time such as discovering electricity. ...read more.

Middle

In chapters one and two Victor tells Walton about his childhood, in chapter three he speaks of the death of his mother and going to university. This all creates the background on which the character is built. In chapter four Frankenstein speaks of his experiments, this marks a change from tension to horror as there is a lot of description. Victor starts talking about his slightly crazy side; he often refers to dead bodies and his actions towards them as if it did not matter. He says "a churchyard was to me merely the receptacle of bodies." This blas´┐Ż and indifferent attitude towards what he was doing causes horror. Also Victor has an unnatural drive or obsession for what he is doing "I seemed to have lost all soul or sensation but for this one pursuit." His ambition overcomes his fear, guilt and morality. The horror is sustained by the fact that he is almost isolated or separated from reality. Also, he forgets his method once he has finished so he can not undo what he has done. Finally there is the physical horror of both the degeneration of Victor and the image of the creature itself, Victor states "I resolved... to make the being of a gigantic stature, that is to say, about eight feet in height, and proportionally large." The idea of recreating life is horrific and the idea that that life is a new large species increases the sense of horror. ...read more.

Conclusion

that she was able to create a good horror novel. But, on the inside, I think she had two other reasons for writing it. The first was to be the first, or one of the first, female writers to get a book published and become famous. Secondly and, I think most importantly, she needed a way to communicate her feelings to others. She had had a difficult marriage and had a complicated relationship with her husband, she also experienced a lot of death, her mother died giving birth to her and many of her own children died. She had given birth to five children before she reached 30 all of whom had died before reaching their teens. I think Shelley had a reason for writing the book as she did; I think she had a moral to the novel. The novel gives the message not to meddle with death and that trying to play God only has bad results. In conclusion, Mary Shelley creates tension and horror in Frankenstein by basing the novel around new science, reversing death, trying to play God and people's prejudice and discrimination. She maintains the horror and tension with detailed descriptions of a strange obsessive man and a terrifying monster set in an atmosphere of dark graveyards, dead bodies and sinister science laboratories. As the story unfolds however, I think that essentially Frankenstein is a romantic book because all the creature ever wanted was to be accepted. Catherine Baty 10JM. ...read more.

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