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'Originally conceived as a horror story, "Frankenstein" achieves much more

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'Originally conceived as a horror story, "Frankenstein" achieves much more.' Do you agree? Frankenstein is one of the great novels of English literature, written in 1816 by a young Mary Shelley. The name Frankenstein is generally associated with the terrifying monster created in the many film adaptations of the book. But did Mary Shelley write only to frighten the reader? Or did she write in order to explore deeper issues of the evolving times she was living in? The basic plot of the novel is typical of a blood-curdling horror story: a mad scientist creates an inhuman monster, which subsequently goes on a murderous rampage, not resting until it has avenged itself. But Shelley's novel uses various other themes throughout the book, asks questions and expresses strong views on the changing balance between science and religion of the early 19th century. Through her monster she explores the themes of isolation, the relationship between God and man, the importance of respecting nature and the dangers of obsession. Shelley's novel has been extremely influential on horror stories since as it is one of the most famous gothic horror novels of all time. It is also the first to use the idea of 'fear of the unknown' in the context of scientific research. ...read more.


Of course, there have been some mysterious circumstances and the bleak and desolate setting of the North Pole, but nothing to really scare the reader. But the creation of the creature is Shelley unearthing her fears about the progression of modern science. To begin with Shelley creates tension, setting the scene, saying : 'it was on a dreary night of November' and 'the rain pattered dismally' both of these creating a sense of unease and darkness. Furthermore, she tells us how 'the candle was nearly burnt out... by the glimmer of the half extinguished light, I saw the dull yellow eye of the creature open', which again forms an image of a dark laboratory with flickering candle light, and creates tension, which have all become classic horror settings ever since. She moves on to her description of the creature Frankenstein is creating using phrases such as 'His yellow skin scarcely covered the work of muscles and arteries', creating a horrific image in the mind's eye of a hideous creature which she builds up by saying 'these luxuriances only formed a more horrid contrast with his watery eyes, ...his shriveled complexion, his straight black lips' making us hate this creature and see it as a monster. Apart from this scene, the horror in the book is kept to a minimum, mainly we see Victor's madness and his fear over his situation. ...read more.


Maybe Shelley thought that society had strayed too far from religion and would never be happy until they realigned with God. Another constant theme is that of nature, and respecting nature. Victor, who steps away from the natural course of things by creating an inhuman creature in what is definitely not the natural way, is driven mad by what he has done. It is only when he returns to an area of spectacular natural beauty, and is in a sense, at one with nature, that he begins to have some peace of mind. He speaks of the 'glorious presence chamber of imperial nature' and tells the reader how 'these sublime and magnificent scenes afforded me the greatest consolation... they elevated me from all littleness of feeling'. We see that in the middle of all the turmoil of his life he can at least find peace with nature. Even he, who has strayed from nature and God can be comforted by how insignificant he is in the face of nature. The book asks big questions, such as do we have a connection or a soul, to something beyond the physical? Likewise, Shelley tries to show the reader the dangers of obsession. Through the parallel characters Walton and Victor we see how monomania, or obsession with one thing, can drive everyone around you away. In the case of Victor, who works night and day on something that in the end destroys him and on the way ...read more.

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