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

Frankenstein by Mary Shelly - So before we have even read her tale, we know that she initially intended to write it as some form of ghost story. Did Shelley achieve her goal?

Extracts from this document...


In their chapter on ghosts in literature, Bennett and Royle propose that nineteenth century literature altered the widespread understanding of ghosts. The ghost now 'move[d] into one's head. The ghost is internalised: it becomes a psychological symptom, and no longer a thing that goes bump in the night...' (p. 133). Frankenstein by Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley certainly provides evidence for this argument that nineteenth century Gothic literature became more concerned with the haunted consciousness than the haunted house (Byron 2004: Stirling University). The tale like all Gothic works is concerned with the uncanny, and if we believed the popular representation of Frankenstein, we could be fooled into thinking that it is simply about a terrifying, grotesque monster. However, is this actually what Shelley's novel is about? By paying particular attention to chapter two in volume two of Frankenstein, and using Bennett and Royle's chapter on ghosts, I will consider to what extent Frankenstein can be described as a ghost story. Before we start to look at Frankenstein itself, we should first look at the context in which it was written. As is well known, Mary Shelley wrote Frankenstein when travelling in Geneva with her husband Percy Bysshe Shelley and Lord Byron. ...read more.


Victor constantly lives in fear from the appearance of the creature, and also fears that he will kill all his family and friends. The way in which Frankenstein is narrated also carries on this haunting theme. It is told through a series of multiple narratives, as if Shelley was trying to recreate the way in which scary stories are passed down through generations, and perhaps also how they change over time. A noteworthy example of the creature's haunting effect on Victor comes when the two are reunited on the glacier. Victor describes with horror the feeling that came over him as he 'beheld the figure of a man...advancing towards me with superhuman speed.' He tells the reader that 'I felt a faintness seize me; but I was quickly restored by the cold gale of the mountains. I perceived as the shape came nearer, (sight tremendous and abhorred!) that it was the wretch whom I had created. I trembled with rage and horror...' (Norton Anthology, p. 959). Victor must have, on some level, expected a reunion with his creature at some point; he knew he could only run from him for so long. ...read more.


However, while I do believe that Frankenstein is a ghost story to a very large extent, I do not think one could describe the tale of Frankenstein without, at some point, mentioning the genre of science fiction. While at once being Gothic and having the style of the German ghost stories that Shelley and her companions were reading on their travels, the story would have much less of an impact if it were not for the role that science plays in the book. Victor becomes obsessed by the secret of life in the book, and it is he who creates the 'ghost' in the story, so it is not simply a case of the bogey man in Frankenstein. The creature challenges our way of thinking about ghosts because he was brought to life made of dead parts, as if life can spring from death with the use of science. So, while I would argue that the tale is most definitely a ghost story, I do not think that Frankenstein would have become such a literary classic if Shelly had not chosen to use the role of science to show us what can happen if we mere mortals meddle too much with God's prerogative. Word Count: 1, 994 1 ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our University Degree 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 University Degree Mary Shelley essays

  1. It is necessary only to substitute kisses for intercourse and semen for blood to ...

    ..."13 Lucy becomes more like the New Woman through her dangerous sexuality. The character later transpires as a perfidious mother figure thus aligning herself with the immoral New Woman. In the novel reports from children suggest that a woman they refer to as "The 'Bloofer Lady'" has begun to attack children, leaving her child victims "weak [...and] emaciated" 14.

  2. "Gothic...reflects humanity's quest to aspire to great things, but also to hide in shadowy ...

    Walton's need is shown to be similar to Frankenstein's as his expedition is an exploration into the unknown, amidst the beauty of the natural world. His feat is also endeavoured despite the risks involved to himself and his crew. In the midst of the trip, his boat passes a man

  1. The novel itself is written in a frame or embedded narrative style, with the ...

    on the importance society places on physical appearance and the way society wrongly judges a person's character by appearance. The use of apostrophes in the statement "Beautiful! - Great God!" further emphasizes his disgust. At the time of writing, women were almost entirely judged by their physical appearance and as

  2. Of the vampire tales to date, Bram Stoker's Dracula has unquestionably become the most ...

    What is clear, though, is that her behaviour toward her husband was unconventional -- that s******y she did not fulfil her part of the marriage contract. In creating Dracula, then, Stoker was probably less concerned with achieving vengeance against a particular group of women who had infected him than he

  1. A commentary on a passage from Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley's Frankenstein.

    From his thoughts it becomes apparent to the reader that he had "created a fiend" three years before and that he is currently creating another. From this we can see that Frankenstein is bitter at both the monster, potentially wanting revenge, and also at himself for creating that monster.

  2. "With reference to at least two novels published after 1870, examine ways in which ...

    It should also be noted that it was under this law under which Wilde was prosecuted an 1895 and given the maximum sentence after details of his relationship with Sir Alfred Douglas were publicised. The act was initially suggested in the summer of 1885, but was twice rejected by the

  1. In order to perform a textual analysis of chapter 5 "Incident of the Letter" ...

    (Stevenson, 2003, pg 28) and "I should like to hear your views on that." (Stevenson, 2003, pg 29). This language used by Utterson is typical within the legal profession and follows the rules as mentioned before with the medical discourse. With the third discourse of homosexuality, this can be seen in a few parts

  2. Although the women's characters in Frankenstein are more underlying they are vital to the ...

    which stresses the importance of friendship and sharing for a person's mental well being and happiness. Then in Letter Two, after Walton has happened upon Victor, his spirits are significantly raised because he sees Victor as an equal and a potential friend.

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