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To what extent can Mary Shelleys Frankenstein be seen as a Gothic Novel?

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Introduction

To what extent can Mary Shelley's 'Frankenstein' be seen as a Gothic Novel? Mary Shelley was born in 1797 and died in 1851. She was born Mary Wollstonecraft Godwin, and was the daughter of well-known feminist Mary Wollstonecraft and equally well-known anarchist and philosopher William Godwin. She met Percy Shelley in 1812 and after spending two years together they fell in love. In May 1816 they went to Switzerland. On one night, when forced to stay indoors, they were telling ghost stories. Mary could not think of one, but later that evening she had a waking-dream about a living corpse lying at her feet and 'Frankenstein' was conceived. When she returned home she started to write 'Frankenstein' and by the spring of 1817 she had finished it. The time in which Shelley was writing was a time of uncertainty. The French revolution had just finished and the Industrial revolution was well under way. Science, technology and education were beginning to be accepted. Mary was opposed to all these ideas and her views are voiced in 'Frankenstein'. Shelley was especially opposed to education and the Monster's character reflects that she thinks education will be the down-fall of mankind. The majority of Gothic fiction arose around this time and the whole Gothic genre can be seen as rebelling against the social repression of the time and mirroring the social unrest. ...read more.

Middle

Chapter 5 opens with Victor working late at night in his laboratory. "It was on a dreary night of November that I beheld the accomplishment of my toils." The scene is set at night which in itself has connotations of the Gothic genre and supernatural. Furthermore the addition of 'dreary' gives the scene a spooky and Gothic feel. The fact that he 'beheld the accomplishment of my toils' shows that he was working late at night which gives his work a certain mystery and secrecy which, as well as appealing to the reader has elements of a Gothic genre and scene. After setting the scene Shelley describes the room that Frankenstein has been working in and the situation he finds himself in. "I collected the instruments of life around me, that I might infuse a spark of being into the lifeless thing that lay at my feet. It was already one in the morning; the rain pattered dismally against the panes, and my candle was nearly burnt out." The description of the scene is in the first person, so it is being made by Frankenstein himself. Frankenstein describes the scene using relatively complex language. This shows how important and complex the moment is. We can see from the words and phrases used; dismally, burnt out, that he is tired and the night has been long. ...read more.

Conclusion

"When I looked around I saw and heard of none like me. Was I, then a monster, a blot upon the earth, from which all men fled and whom all men disowned?" The monster is starting to question why he is the only one like him. He has learnt from his surroundings and the only things that he has gained have been negative. Shelley is trying to show us how education is bad and that it will eventually lead to nothing but negativity as we learn more about ourselves and develop how we think not just about ourselves but the human race as a whole. It is also the idea that education will lead us into wanting to move further forward i.e. creating an empire, an idea that Shelley was known to be very opposed to. Also this shows gothic ideas as it explores emotions and reveals unwanted ideas and feelings. In answer to the question, 'To what extent can Mary Shelley's Frankenstein be seen as a Gothic novel?' I believe that this novel is greatly involved in, and influenced by, the Gothic genre. The novel has many aspects and elements of the Gothic genre like, the supernatural and the main feature throughout the novel, which is the criticising of society at the time and the way that society is moving. It is for these reasons I believe that Mary Shelley's 'Frankenstein' is a Gothic novel and a brilliant story. ?? ?? ?? ?? Ross Keys 10A Coursework ...read more.

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