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How far can we accept Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein as a typical example of the Gothic Tradition? Focus on specific examples of the genre to illustrate your answer.’

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Introduction

'How far can we accept Mary Shelley's Frankenstein as a typical example of the Gothic Tradition? Focus on specific examples of the genre to illustrate your answer.' Many critics have named Mary Shelley's Frankenstein as a Gothic novel. A traditional Gothic novel can be described as, ' tales of the macabre, fantastic and supernatural.' In the beginning, the word Gothic implied 'medieval', but with time its meaning altered, until its emphasis lay on the macabre. Many of the best gothic novels show examples of invention and produce moments of horror far greater than pieces that are less emotive. Frankenstein fits into this category. Victor Frankenstein is an ambitious, although misguided inventor, looking to solve the secret of life. In her introduction, Mary Shelley declares her desire to 'curdle the blood and quicken the beatings of the heart.' This type of language immediately signals to the reader that Frankenstein should be placed in the gothic genre. ...read more.

Middle

The descriptive language and vivid images used however, fit in with the gothic theme, ' a churchyard was to me merely the receptacle of bodies deprived of life, which, from being the seat of beauty and strength had become food for the worm.' The gothic can also be interpreted as the darker side of the human psyche, rather than actual happenings, situations or objects. In the novel, Victors thoughts are obviously veering more towards the dark side. What he does and what he creates are both unnatural. He goes too far, breaks the laws of nature, crosses forbidden boundaries and unleashes a destructive force upon society and himself. Victor sees himself as the true murderer: 'I bore a hell within me...'. Through his ambition, he observes the corruption of death during days and nights locked in enclosed spaces with decaying bodies. The horrific images of his, 'secret toil' suggests his work is also sordid, 'as I dabbled among the unhallowed damps of the grave.' ...read more.

Conclusion

Romanticism is as difficult to define as the gothic; however, it can be simplified to three defining key points. These are concern with social reform, as seen when Safie is welcomed into the family and when Victors father and mother marry. Preoccupation with the workings of the imagination is another key point, and this is seen in Victors scientific plans. An interest in nature is the final point and is seen in the novel through Victor wanting to defy the natural laws. While Frankenstein is generally defined as a gothic novel, it has important links to the Romantic movement and critics have also suggested that it may also fit n with other topics, categories and genres. Both the book and the creature are constructed out of an assortment of bits and pieces that dot seem to quite fit together. Maybe we should consider, upon reading the novel, whether Frankenstein is concerned with questioning the restraints of social classification, something the author herself felt strongly about, rather than by trying to fit it into one specific category. Samantha Flowers 12Z ...read more.

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