'Frankenstein' by Mary Shelley
Genre: Gothic Fiction Pages: 99
Review Mary Shelley’s infamous novel ‘Frankenstein’ has been on my ‘To Read’ list for some years now, and I’m glad that I have finally found the time to sit down with a cup of tea to read it. I didn’t know what to expect of this novel, yet due to it being a notable literary classic and especially so for the genre, I desperately wanted to give it a go. I purchased this novel for part of the wider reading requirements of my A Level course. However, I haven’t found the time to read it until now. I found the text to be gripping, with beautiful imagery, plenty of literary techniques and it produces arguments towards society wonderfully. As, if you didn’t already know, I have a particular preference for texts which push societal boundaries and may discreetly or more obviously argue for their cause.
The novel follows a story from different perspectives including explorer Robert Walton, Victor Frankenstein himself and also the narration of his monster. It is argued that Shelley used her text to propose the horrors of the quickening potential of scientific advancement within her era. As scientists were beginning to dabble with electricity by the late eighteenth century and around this time, people would question the limits of science and wonder if it is to be possible to bring people back from the dead using electricity itself. Therefore, Shelley could be questioning the limitations of science and use the novel as a warning of the potential possibilities if an individual meddled too far (as at the time, people didn’t understand the limits to electricity).
This leads on to science and research as an evident topic within Shelley’s novel. As from the beginning, Frankenstein questions where he should draw the line in his research ‘I doubted at first whether I should attempt the creation of a being like myself’ and his ‘imagination was too much exalted’. Therefore, from the beginning Shelley demonstrates the dangers of scientific research and whether we should push nature’s boundaries and what could happen if we go beyond the extreme.
Also, there was a lot of debate at the time due to the science vs. religion debate and many believed that we shouldn’t research into science as it could question God and His work. Shelley could demonstrate the dangers of science and research through depicting Frankenstein’s monster as a murderous being – ‘I grasped his throat to silence him, and in a moment he lay dead at my feet’ (narrated by the monster) – and so she may portray scientific advancement and the possibilities from this as something to be feared with potentially horrific consequences.
Despite this, there is an element of romance within the novel. Frankenstein’s creation desires love and demands ‘This being you must create’ so there is more to the story than gothic horror, if you’re interested in novels with a little romance too. There are also themes of friendship, loss and grief.
Overall, I enjoyed this novel and found it to be more interesting and gripping than I expected it to be. I loved the settings of Shelley’s novel as she produces wonderful imagery with incredible imagination. I’d recommend this book as it’s a must read if you’re interested in gothic horror and with a mixture of epistolary and prose, Shelley had an amazing writing style that keeps you intrigued. I’d rate this novel an eight out of ten as it kept me reading and I was reluctant to put the book down.
I hope you liked today’s review and I apologise for the delay. Let me know your thoughts on ‘Frankenstein’ or if there’s anything that you would like to add.
Take care, Sophie x
Summary for Students
Marrying for love/wealth – Robert Walton discussing his friend’s actions ‘she loved another, but that he was poor, and that her father would never consent to the union’
- Frankenstein’s thoughts ‘I doubted at first whether I should attempt the creation of a being like myself’ and ‘my candle was nearly burnt out, when, by the glimmer of the half-extinguished light, I saw the dull yellow eye of the creature open…’
– Frankenstein’s creature wants another to love ‘This being you must create.’
– Victor Frankenstein discussing his friend Henry Clerval ‘his friendship was of that devoted and wondrous nature that the worldly-minded teach us to look for only in the imagination’