Frankenstein essay

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Frankenstein essay

        In this essay I will show how Mary Shelley manipulates the reader’s view of the monster throughout her novel “Frankenstein.” I will show that Shelley creates many different impressions on the reader, through various methods, to change their opinion throughout the book.

        “Frankenstein” is a romantic gothic horror novel written in 1818 by a young woman named Mary Shelley. It includes the classic gothic themes of romance, horror, religion and good and evil. “Frankenstein”, however, is centred on a issue still debated today; whether trying to change life is playing God and if it will lead to dire consequences. At the time of writing Mary Shelley was 16, the wife of Percy Shelley and staying in the Swiss Alps with Lord Byron and her husband.

One of the more classic methods Shelley uses to manipulate her readers is setting. In chapter 5 the setting gives a dark and gothic atmosphere, which tells the reader that the monster is horrifying and to be feared. “One in the morning; the rain pattered dismally against the panes, and my candle was nearly burnt out.” This quote is giving the reader the idea of isolation; something surreptitious and forbidden. Mary Shelley does this by using a classic gothic horror setting; the night which traditionally implies evil, secrecy and darkness, the bad weather, used to make everything more dank and dismal, and the burnt down candle, a symbol of long hours of frenzied work and manic concentration.


        This setting also reflects badly on Frankenstein’s character; the middle of a stormy night when most people would be in bed and he is up, furtively completing a long held ambition. The burnt down candle image heightens this idea but also adds the concept that Frankenstein himself may be close to burning out. The candle is used as a metaphor for his own exhaustion. This type of setting shows the reader that Frankenstein is doing something secretly, something offensive to society. This casts a negative shadow on his character.

        The setting is also used to put a negative slur on the monster and just about everything else in the scene. The setting is used to make everything worse. The strange hour of the night and turbulent weather show the reader that the monster must be weird and unnatural to be kept away from normal people. Overall the main effect of this setting is to make all the ideas Mary Shelley presents to her readers in this chapter seem twisted and dangerous.

        Another thing which Mary Shelley uses to influence the reader’s opinion of the monster is its appearance. We are introduced to the living monster in chapter 5 and this is where most of the description concerning its “horrid” appearance is used. The monster is repulsive and gruesome, which is described in horrifying detail, causing the reader to make negative judgements on its character. In describing the monster Shelley also uses the reference of “Dante”. This comparison introduces a religious element; in playing God, Frankenstein has produced something worse than can be found in Hell. This also reinforces the unnatural image.

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        This is continued with the idea that the monster has not turned out the way Frankenstein expected. “Beautiful! Great God! His yellow skin scarcely covered the work of muscles and arteries beneath…” The whole vivid description centres on the unnatural and freakish, especially the way the monster’s innards are described as visible through the monster’s sallow skin. This creates a dramatic image in the readers mind as something human shaped but ultimately wrong, different and scary, more animal than human. The monster is also described as having “watery eyes” which make us think of illness, or perhaps, in the ...

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