A overview of Mary Shelley’s horror story Frankenstein.
‘Frankenstein’ is a Gothic Horror novel written by Mary Shelley. It was first published in 1818. At this time science was excelling belong recent recognition and ideas of resurrection were being tested around the world. The plot underlining ‘Frankenstein’ is the thirst for knowledge and the quest to put right your wrongs. The main character is a young Swiss man named Victor Frankenstein. He has an unquenchable thirst for science and through this he creates a ‘monster’ which plagues Victor and his family throughout. Mary Shelley sets the book in places she had lived in which made the book more believable since the descriptions given were very detailed. The ideas of reanimating the dead was being debated at the time. And Mary’s dad being a highly regarded scholar which had tested the theory of resurrection. Through this Mary had first hand experience of this which could have encouraged the ideas behind the book.
In chapter 5, the opening paragraph is set out in a basic horror story lay out (a pathetic fallacy). Which I think would have been really effective back then but nowadays to seen to be far more ‘cheesy’. However, Mary Shelley does this by setting out the scene using dismal weather and scary adjectives. The weather sets the scene out into a frightening and fearful experience e.g. ‘it was on a dreary night of November.’ This quote uses the dismal weather in winter to bring to life the dear surrounding the scene. Also, ‘the rain pattered dismally against the panes,’ uses the weather to build up the appearance of the creature and the environment around the scene. As well as using effective and scary adjectives to build up the general horror atmosphere. ‘I saw the dull yellow eye of the creature open,’ uses the word dull to emphasise the ugliness and horror of the monster. Also, ‘it breathed hard and a convulsive motion agitated its limbs,’ adds the words hard and convulsive adds a significant horror to the scene because breathing ‘hard’ adds a much more violent and frightening image of the monster. Also ‘convulsive’ adds a very violent image towards the movement of the monster which can persuade your views towards the monster before you even know what its appearance is. Which I think is a very good device to influence the audience. Frankenstein narrates the story which has a highly bias effect on the reader. It shows the monster in Frankenstein’s view which can be changed and moulded by Frankenstein to make it more dramatic. Doing this also gives a very biased and exaggerated view which makes you more inclined to trust Frankenstein and distrust the creature later on. At this point of the story I think Frankenstein is a very irresponsible person. He planned the entire operation but never really thought over what was going to happen afterwards. Which shows how irresponsible and naïve he is, as he thought as soon as the monster was made everything would fall into place which obviously didn’t work out like that. Above all he abandons the creature which is a terrible and nasty thing to do, to the creature even thought he had spent years planning this but when it finally happened he couldn’t cope with the consequences and denied responsibility showing traits of cowardice.
In chapter 12, I gain the impression that the creature is much more peaceful and human than the previous chapters, in where I got the impression he was an evil and dreadful monster. But in this chapter I realise how I was wrong and it was the biased views of Frankenstein which affected my view of the creature. The impression earlier in the book was that he was a vicious and dangerous fiend but this view was give out by Victor. But now as the creature learns and lives alone a more realistic and true picture is painted. Because the narration has shifted to the creature, it makes us more sympathetic to the monster and less so to Victor. As the narration shifts, a contrast develops of what the reader was lead to believe and the truth surrounding the creature. Before the shift, we thought the monster was a horrible, evil and demonical creature but afterwards we find that it is a misled and peaceful creature, my response to the creature has changed to see the creature in a much lighter and peaceful way. I thought this because at first the words used by Victor such as ‘monster’ and ‘demon’, swayed my opinion against the creature. But afterwards when the creature is narrating, it is clear that the creature is far more complex then its appearance. E.g. he learns how to speak to try and bond with the humans. The language has changed much more from chapter 5, e.g. in 5 the creature is called a ‘catastrophe’ and a ‘demonical corpse’, also when the monster is being addressed it is called ‘it’ or ‘the monster’. But in 12, the language to describe the creature is words such as ‘gentle’ and ‘kind’ are used which change the whole perception of the creature. Also the creature is addressed much more nicely than in 5. Shelley chooses to begin chapter 5 in the manner she does because it sets the scene into a scary and horrific atmosphere, to give a introduction to what is about to happen. But at the end of chapter 12 she uses ‘genial warmth of spring’ because it symbolises a new beginning for the creature and a new life springing up for him.
In chapter 15, the book moves from autumn to winter, winter makes it a negative time for the creature because he opened himself to the family and they rejected him. Which really shoots down the creatures efforts in learning the language which makes it all in vain. This is very symbolic since in autumn it was an exciting time for the creature building up the time he’d meet the family but when it came it hit him coldly and hurtfully. I thought the treatment of the creature was very harsh at first but then I understood what the scene looked like to Felix. Which made it seen more understandable. Felix reacted the way he did because of the way the creature looked like. This attitude ripples throughout the story since Victor first abandons the creature because of its appearance. Shelley invites you to set the scene in your mind a horrible, disgusting monster clinging onto your blind loving father makes it far more understandable.
In chapter 16, since the creature got rejected by the family he was living with, the creature has become far more violent and out of control than before in chapter 15. The language makes the transformation more shocking by using phrases such as ‘why did I live? Why, in that instance did I not extinguish the spark of existence?’ Which asks why the creature didn’t kill himself in the instance where he was rejected by the family, showing how hurt it really is. Also, ‘for the first time the feelings of revenge and hatred filled my bosom’, expresses how the transformation has turned the former peaceful and happy creature into a hateful and revengeful monster. I feel very sorry for the creature, reason being is nothing that has happened to him has really been his fault. Speaking metaphorically, he was dealt the wrong set of cards, being conceived by a misled scientist who cared more about what he wanted to know more than what the consequences were. The creature was rejected and rejected throughout his life which lead him to kill Victors younger brother and burn down the French families cottage. Also, the creature actually tried to change how his life was going through learning to speak to gain a relationship with humans to make his life better. But after the creature kills Victor’s younger brother, I feel slightly less inclined to sympathize with the creature. It makes me feel that Frankenstein has been right about the creature all along.
At the end of the story I feel more sympathy for the creation, it wasn’t born evil but its surroundings and Frankenstein’s ignorance tuned it into the horrible creature that did the terrible things to Frankenstein’s family and friends. I don’t agree with Frankenstein’s assessment, I think a better interpretation would be that his soul was blank when it was created. But it was harshly treated and rejected which maybe made his soul into an evil form. Shelly didn’t give the creature a name because not giving it a name allows for symbolic name for the creature such as instead of saying, ‘said the creature’, you can change it to, ‘said the demon’ which adds more prejudice and flexibility to the creation. Metaphorically, the creature at the start was a piece of mouldable clay whose surroundings moulded it into a violent and frightful creature who took revenge against those who wronged him for no given reason.