Frankenstein, by Mary Shelley. Everyone has heard or it, but so many can say what it is about, and what its message is, mainly because it is so hard to know exactly. This is party because it so interestingly ahead of its time. Creating life using genetic engineering was almost unheard of, and this new revelation was so alien to the first readers of Frankenstein, making it one of the most popular horror stories of its time. But the message of Frankenstein is unclear, mainly because of the two very different, major emotions that are conjured up whilst reading this classic novel; Sympathy and Horror.Order now
The 19th century, when the book was written and published was a massive turning point for Britain, as many new ideas where being introduced. Frankenstein was one of the few Gothic horror stories of its time, which meant that people weren’t entirely sure how to receive it; because it raised astonishing issues of morality, science and human nature. issues of morality, science and human nature. Yet, it was still undeniably a huge success, and still people today are left to question, what exactly were Mary Shelley’s intentions for her avid readers of Frankenstein one hundred years later?
Frankenstein is a complex and original story, containing multiple contrasting themes of horror, sympathy, love and tragedy. Victor Frankenstein, a young and determined man from Geneva sets out to create life, but his idea becomes an obsession and he forgets about everything he once cared for. The creature is finally created after many months of hard labour. However, Frankenstein, after seeing the horrific appearance of his creature, abandons it, leaving the creature that has human emotions and super human strength, to fend for himself entirely.
The next few chapters, the book has no mention of the creature, but his whereabouts is still wallowing at the back of every readers mind. Years later we find out exactly what the creature has been doing for all this time, and his story is astounding and heart wrenching. The creature begins to take the lives of people close to Frankenstein, because he wants a companion for himself. Eventually everything goes inevitably goes wrong and the creature is left to sail off into the distance with terrible guilt and nothing achieved.
Shelley uses many interesting and effective narrative techniques, like the story begins as an epistolary novel- through the letters of Robert Walton, a seemingly unimportant character. It is through Walton t hat victor Frankenstein, the long time ruined man tells his story. This technique was very new and original at the time Shelley wrote Frankenstein, and therefore intrigued people further. The novel is a dark and tragic one and was probably inspired by Shelley’s unfortunate and difficult life.
Her husband drowned at sea in 1822, her sister killed herself, her mother died when she was very young and her died loathing her. This factor would have brought her to understand grief and incorporate that understanding into her novels. Shelley brought her personal experience of rejection by a parental figure, which becomes a major theme in Frankenstein, the sympathy she creates for the monster may have come from the way she was treated herself. Shelley’s difficult life reflected immensely on the novel, the way in which she wrote it and her mental state at the time.
She says that her inspiration for Frankenstein came from a dream she has whilst camping at Lake Geneva. This affects the dreamlike, surreal storyline it has. Sympathy and horror are the feelings that Shelley intentionally conjures up in Frankenstein, and these opposite, deviating themes begin in chapters four and five, when the creature is created. Victor’s unexpected reaction brings the feeling of confusion to the reader. He has worked so hard to create life, something he should be proud of, and a feeling of a hope is with Frankenstein.
Then, alarmingly, as soon as the creature opens his eyes, the reality of what he is doing sets in. Frankenstein has a warped image that the creature would be beautiful, because appearances are so important to him. He has grown up around beautiful people and the significance of beauty is obvious at the start of the novel.
His immediate reaction is ‘How can I describe my emotions at this catastrophe, or how delineate the wretch whom with such infinite pains and care I had endeavoured to form? The way that Frankenstein describes his emotions as a catastrophe informs us that he wasn’t prepared for what was coming. This sentence is also the first time the creature is described as a ‘wretch’ which is also surprising because this is judged entirely on the way he looks. He then continues to describe the creature’s features as hideous and disgusting. Of course, it is made of decomposing body parts stitched together. Frankenstein’s graphic description of the horrific creature makes you feel utter disgust towards it.