The book was written in the late 19th century and Shelley has incorporated many ideas of the time into her novel. The exploration and fascination of electricity plays a major role throughout the novel at a time when people were experimenting with its uses. One particular experiment regarding electricity was that of galvanism. Galvanism was the use of electricity to give dead animals the illusion of life. This idea has been expanded upon in the novel to bring the dead to life. Jean Jaques Rousseau was a famous French philosopher of the time.
He believed that all people were born good and that it was their exposure to their society which would dictate there outcome, to remain good or to become bad. This philosophy has a clear influence on Shelley’s writing. At the time healthcare was poor. Deaths were frequent and many women died in childbirth, as did Shelley’s mother, she caught a disease after giving birth. The death of her mother deeply affected Shelley and it is the difficulties of parent/child relationships that the novel tries to unearth.
From looking at Shelley’s life and her background it is easy to see how things have influenced her writing and also been incorporated into her novel. It is as though she uses her book to express herself and her feelings. Episodes from her life can often be found weaved into the story. The genre of the novel is very important in being used to create atmosphere. The novel has a clear gothic genre. The darkness and lightning are used frequently to create mood. Other genres can also be found within the novel. The monsters segregation and torment makes gives a very dark feel to the story.
The novel has a clear structure which is used to allow the reader to see the story from two different perspectives. The vast majority of the story is told as entries into Walton’s journal, it is not until the closing pages that the monsters story emerges. Until this happens the story is biased in favour of Frankenstein, but the story of the monster balances the bias and allows the reader to make up their own mind. It also allows the reader to see what happened and to fully understand the monster. The reader goes through the same thoughts as Walton.
When Walton first meets the monster he has only heard from Frankenstein and is therefore prejudice toward Frankenstein but then becomes more balanced as the monster explains himself as does the reader. The structure allows the reader to decide who is in the wrong or right rather than the opinion being forced upon them. The closing pages of the novel see Frankenstein and the monster finally come face to face again. Both characters are wishing revenge upon one another. Frankenstein wants to avenge the murders of his family and friends whilst the monster wants Frankenstein to suffer as he has.
Frankenstein has been chasing the monster for several years and finally is lead into the Arctic. This is when Frankenstein collapses and is taken aboard Walton’s ship, his health is deteriorating rapidly. He knows he will not survive long and asks as his last wish for Walton to kill the monster. After Frankenstein passes away Walton meets the monster who explains to him his side of the story. Walton changes his opinion of the monster. The monster then leaves and commits suicide by burning himself, leaving no trace of his body in the knowledge that no-one will have to live through what he has.