Why Frankenstein Can Be Considered Gothic Literatu

Essay, Research Paper

Essay-Why Frankenstein can be consider Gothic Literature The Novel Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein can be considered Gothic literature for many reasons. Besides the obvious, such as the time it was written, there are many different ways to interpret this thesis. The setting, plot, and the stereotypical female role will be examined to justify the thesis. This essay will identify, explain, and compare characteristics between Frankenstein and a typical Gothic novel, thus, proving the thesis correct. Gothic literature can be defined in many ways. Mary Shelly describes Gothic literature as “which would speak to the mysterious fears of our Nature, and would awaken thrilling horror-one to make the reader dread to look around, to curdle the blood and quicken the beatings of the heart” . Virginia Woolf describes Gothic literature as “a genre which fulfills the ’strange human craving for feeling afraid’” . The setting and structure in this story perfectly portrays both statements. The typical Gothic novel has several themes such as “emphasis on mystery and horror” . Frankenstein’s settings portray that horror during the isolation period when Frankenstein tries to create a new monster, or when the Monster stalks Frankenstein during his wedding night . These scenes provoke fear and mystery in the minds of the readers. As Anne Radcliffe said, “Goth should inspire terror and horror” , this novel successfully imprints the air of mystery and horror as all Gothic novels do. In addition, the structure of the book also corresponds to the typical gothic novel, such as the Chinese Box, where the main story is within another story that produces fragmented narration . Secondly, the plot of Frankenstein corresponds to the plot of any typical Gothic novel. The ‘cosmic struggle’ is a typical plot work of any Gothic work where polar opposites slug it out in the story. In this case, the struggle between the Monster and its creator is evident in this story. Guilt is another predominant characteristic of any Gothic plot . In Frankenstein, the guilt is placed on Frankenstein himself because he creates a killer who kills his loved ones and wreaks havoc in the world. Death is always a part of any Gothic plot as it shows up in almost all of the Gothic novels . In this novel, the deaths and mutilations of the human body are extremely evident throughout the book. From the murder of William , to the bedroom killing of Elizabeth , murder and blood is dominant in the story. Other Gothic themes portrayed in this novel include violence against innocent figures , such as the Monster’s direct interference in William’s life and the indirect killing of Justine’s. Another major theme that shows up in many Gothic novels is deaths that link directly with love , such as the killing of Elizabeth , the love of Frankenstein.

Finally, the character and the female role portrayed in the novel and its social implications correspond to the typical Gothic literature and the social ‘revolutions’ that occurred in the late 19th century. Although most Gothic novels written between 1760 to 1820 are written by women, the works themselves put the male gender in the spotlight and the female gender as the innocent bystanders. The sexual implications of this novel, like most other Gothic novels, are evident and cannot be ignored. For example, many Gothic novels involve women’s fear of their own bodies and sexuality. In this novel, Mary Shelley expresses her concern and her fear by writing the creation of the Monster without the assistance of a female’s womb. The absence of a female in creation of life is the main controversy of this novel, where she expresses that if the female body is no longer needed, then what is the role of females if giving birth, a proprietary pleasure of females, is stripped from them? The other characters and their involvement in the story are also main characteristics of the typical Gothic novel. Innocent bystanders, such as William, are killed to provoke the hero to act. Another prime example is the use of the male scientist and monster as main characters of the novel. Almost all Gothic novels focus on male accomplishments, failures, and struggles. In this case, the male presence in Frankenstein is dominant. In extreme situations, the female role is portrayed as objects of certain males, like prizes to be won. This is not an exception in this novel, where Elizabeth is portrayed as a ‘gift’ to Frankenstein. In conclusion, the framework of the typical Gothic novel and its themes and main points fit the characteristics of Frankenstein. This essay has proved that the novel Frankenstein is Gothic literature by comparing the settings, plot, and character development and its social implications between Frankenstein and the themes and characteristics of any typical Gothic work. Many people may say that the novel is Gothic literature because it was written between 1760 and 1820, but there are underlying reasons to be explored to prove the thesis correct. Bibiiography 1. Shelly, Mary. Frankenstein. New York, New York: Penguin Group, 19632. Microsoft Encarta 1998 Deluxe Edition. [computer file]. Microsoft Corporation, 19973. The Gothic Novel. [handout]4. The Gothic Tradition [internet website] http://www.salc.wsu.edu/classes/english/English209/gothic2.html5. The Gothic Literature [internet website] http://members.aol.com/iamudolpho/main.html


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