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In the 21st Century what is the enduring appeal of Mary Shelley's "Frankenstein"

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Introduction

In the 21st Century what is the enduring appeal of Mary Shelley's "Frankenstein" ? "Frankenstein" is a gothic novel written in the 19th century by nineteen year old Mary Shelley. It was written in 1816 during a time of great social, political and cultural change. Science was seen as the means for progress and Shelley lived in a time of great scientific development and discovery. This is reflected in her novel where Victor Frankenstein is a young and idealistic scientist whose obsession with the nature of human existence drives him to pursue science to it's ultimate possibilities regardless of moral or ethical considerations. He rejects his creation and the creature takes revenge on him by destroying everything Frankenstein has ever loved and finally killing him. "Frankenstein" incorporates many different elements including traditional gothic horror and science fiction which still appeal to the modern reader through our fascination with the mysterious and terrifying. At the turn of the nineteenth century old ways in all areas were being usurped by science and its new and unsettling applications and implications for future change. The enduring appeal of Mary Shelley's novel with its creation of human life has parallels today where science has realised this gothic dream through cloning and stem cell growth. Its sophisticated language and interesting structure makes this novel appealing to the modern reader. ...read more.

Middle

Saville" his sister. The novel is written in first person narrative mostly from Frankenstein's perspective except for when the creature asks his creator to "hear my tale" and tells his story. Shelley uses many literary parallels in her novel comparing Frankenstein to God and the creature to Adam and making references to "Prometheus" and "Paradise Lost". She also refers to "The Ancient Mariner" in one of Walton's letters where he tells his sister that "I shall kill no albatross; therefore do not be alarmed for my safety." These different aspects of structure combine to make the novel more interesting. Appealing aspects of style also contribute to making the novel even more engaging for modern readers. Shelley writes very vivid descriptions of both the creature and the locations making the novel more realistic and believable to the reader. Her description of the creature is designed to terrify. Although Frankenstein at first says that his creation is beautiful he later describes him as "hideous". The creature is said to have "yellow skin [which] scarcely covered the work of muscles and arteries beneath; his hair was of a lustrous black and flowing, his complexion shrivelled and his lips black". Shelley's use of beautiful and remote backgrounds to the events taking place provide a contrast to the heinous crimes committed by the creature. ...read more.

Conclusion

Mary Shelley's "Frankenstein" resonates with the present-day reader because it addresses the fascination and fear that science provokes in people. The twenty-first century echoes the worries of the early nineteenth century regarding spirituality, godliness and social responsibility at all levels. The novel "Frankenstein" is still relevant to us today because it plays on our emotional concerns regarding present change and future possibilities. Its continuing appeal is reflected in our fascination with the horror genre which can be easily seen in the popularity of recent television series, films and books. Science, as mentioned above, has put some individuals into the role of Victor Frankenstein, playing God, without perhaps, fully considering the moral and ethical issues as raised by Mary Shelley in her novel. The female characters and their apparent weaknesses can still be found in various media, despite changes and awareness created through feminism and the changing roles of women in society. The creature's dual roles in the novel perhaps reflect the present-day anxieties of many people, regarding their role and purpose in society and the deep human need to be accepted and loved. Its enduring appeal to the modern reader originates in the emotions the characters exhibit and their reactions to the various situations they find themselves in. The reader cannot help but empathise with the very realistic characters, especially the creature and his obviously human traits, which remain at the heart of the novel's appeal. ?? ?? ?? ?? 1 ...read more.

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