• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

To what extent is Frankenstein typical of the Gothic genre?

Extracts from this document...

Introduction

Sam Heard To what extent is "Frankenstein" typical of the Gothic genre? The Gothic in literature is designed to inspire terror in the reader using a number of methods and techniques. Originally, 'Gothic' was used to refer to style of medieval architecture, constructed to deliberately appear frightening in order to scare off 'bad spirits': so the term 'Gothic' was given to Gothic literature as it inspired emotional extremes such as fear in its readers, as did Gothic architecture, and because the genres preferred setting in buildings of the gothic style such as castles and churches. Subsequently, the setting is often exploited during Gothic novels in order to isolate the characters, thus provoking a sense of horror and or awe in the reader. Another element Gothic authors use to terrify their audiences is the idea of crossing boundaries which are not supposed to be crossed. This idea of crossing boundaries generates a lot of fear in the reader as it takes them away from their comfort zones and often goes against their opinions of how things should naturally happen. Physical horror is particularly used to scare the reader, sometimes in a graphic way, playing on humanity's primitive fear about the body and its mortality, meaning it is prone to damage and decay. Gothic fiction is often narrated using a fragmented style in order to confuse the reader and take them still further away from reality. This differs strongly from other genres of fiction, as generally, in classic realist fiction of the 19th century there is an omniscient narrator throughout the story. However, Gothic novels often have various narrators contributing to the story in a number of ways, often underlining the presence of bias from character accounts and so giving the reader a better idea of characters allegiance. A good example of this narrative technique is Bram Stoker's "Dracula" where the novel is narrated by a number of different voices. ...read more.

Middle

Frankenstein has many examples of physical horrific sequences; one of the most repulsive of these is just before creating the monster, whilst Victor is learning about the decay of human flesh in the charnel house. Victor explains to Walton how "I (he) saw how the fine form of man was degraded and wasted; I beheld the corruption of death succeed to the blooming cheek of life; I saw how the worm inherited the wonders of the eye and brain" which is a very nauseating set of images. Consequently, for readers of the time when Frankenstein was published (1818), this was absolutely terrifying and so Gothic. Perhaps most notably of all the episodes of physical horror throughout the novel is the creation of the monster, where Victor, using various body parts stolen from corpses, attempts to bestow life. The "convulsive motion which agitated its limbs" is a nasty image, almost as though the monsters limbs are not supposed to be moving again and so they are "agitated". Also, a violent "convulsive motion" is the monsters first movement, perhaps a warning of the violence the monster will later bring in its wake. His "yellow skin" which "scarcely covered the work of muscles and arteries" is a revolting thought, and the unnatural shade of the skin is perhaps a symbol of the whole operation, as is his "dull yellow eye". Indeed this repetition of using the same colour for the moon, skin and eyes is a key feature in the Gothic. The few luxuries which the monster does have, including his "lustrous black" hair and his "teeth of pearly whiteness" serve only to form a "horrid contrast" with his other features, and so the reader is presented with a disgusting image of the monster. Following this sequence, Victor has a dream which can also be classified under physical horror. At first, he sees his sweetheart Elizabeth "in the bloom of health", however on embracing her, a revolting change occurs. ...read more.

Conclusion

Fiddling with nature- for example engineering crops- will only turn out for the worst, as with genetically engineered plant you are more likely to sink into a famine as one problem can spoil the whole harvest. The debates raised by Frankenstein also apply to fertility treatments such as IVF as one could argue that is god's role to bestow life upon whom he chooses. Also raised is the debatable regime of capital punishment. As we see with Justine, innocent people may have to pay the ultimate price for a crime they have not committed and so the system, according to Shelley, is fundamentally flawed and therefore morally wrong. Frankenstein also opposes all forms of racism and prejudice where people are penalised due to nothing more than their appearance as was the case with the monster. Ultimately, the novel is Gothic in most respects in that it uses many of the features typical of Gothic texts, as well as a truly Gothic subject (a monster constructed of dead body parts) and generally frightening language. All these elements combined with a fluent overall style, are enough to categorise Shelley's Frankenstein as a Gothic novel. However, to some extent it cannot be classed as a 'typical' Gothic novel as Shelley adds her own aspects to the mix, including science, relationships between characters, a sense of character psychology and the prevailing idea of alienation. Shelley wrote Frankenstein to include the dramatic sensationalism shared by most gothic texts but at the same time comforting aspects of everyday life, contrary to other Gothic writings. Through this method, Shelley adds a sense of realism to the book, meaning readers feel there may be a chance that they too could someday be involved in such events and as such intensifying every other aspect of the novel: this is perhaps the reason why the novel enjoys its role as the flagship of the gothic genre which it has retained to this day. ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our GCSE Mary Shelley section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related GCSE Mary Shelley essays

  1. Peer reviewed

    Frankenstein has been described as a 'novel of the Gothic genre' do you feel ...

    4 star(s)

    my imagination was too much exalted by my first success to permit me to doubt of my ability to give life.... It was with these feelings that I began the creation of a human being.' This expresses the idea that knowledge can be compared to light and excitement, however Victor

  2. Compare and Contrast "Frankenstein" by Mary Shelley and "Flowers For Algernon" by Daniel Keyes, ...

    When Charlie was very little Rose showed great love for him, however when she finally admitted that eh couldn't be helped and had Norma, who to her seemed 'perfect', she began to treat Charlie with hatred. In both novels the reader sees how both Charlie and the monster feel neglected

  1. In Frankenstein How Does The Use Of Three Narrators Affect The Reader's Response To ...

    This idea is re-enforced by the quote "when younger, I believed myself destined for some great enterprise..." he then goes on to describe his passion whilst creating the monster and his "senseless curiosity." However, he still blames others for his downfall.

  2. How does Mary Shelley present Frankenstein the monster and what do we find out ...

    The monster accomplishes his mission of bringing fear and misery to all mankind especially Victor Frankenstein, his creator. In my opinion I think that my final impression of the monster is probably bad because the atrocities and horror and chaos he causes is unbelievable because he kills a child, brings

  1. Compare three stories of suspense in three different styles of writing

    because his "soul from out that shadow lies floating on the floor", which seems as if he has left his body but we are never sure why. The only evidence we have is that the man was a firm believer of superstition and maybe he was so scared of the thought of dying that it killed him.

  2. In which respects is "Frankenstein" a Gothic novel in close Reference to subject; theme; ...

    I could not sustain the horror of my situation; and when I perceived that the popular voice, and the countenances of the judges, had already condemned my unhappy victim, I rushed out of the court in agony. The tortures of the accused did not equal mine; she was sustained by

  1. Compare The Treatment Of Outsiders In Frankenstein - Mary Shelley and The Outsiders - ...

    As I have indicated this above. The main character in the outsiders is Ponyboy Curtis. Ponyboy Curtis is a 14-year-old boy living with his two older brothers Darry and Sodapop. He is living with his two brothers because their mother and father died in a car crash when he was young.

  2. 'Frankenstein Essay' - With reference to chapters 11-16, trace the development and change in ...

    Later in the monster's story (Chapter 15) he discovered three books in the neighbouring wood. These books played a vital part in the monster's emotional development. For example the first story was called `Sorrows of Werter', this was a tragic love story by a German author called Goethe.

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work