‘Frankenstein’ is typical of gothic literature as it fulfils and contains many of the characteristics of a gothic genre for example: good versus evil, supernatural elements, grotesque and savage creatures, nature used to create atmosphere, the dark side of human nature, isolated characters, developments in science and technology, suspense and mystery and the breakdown of boundaries and the exploration of what is forbidden. ‘Frankenstein’ was written at a time of great changes in British society and at a time of social and political upheaval.
Galvanism was just being explored at this time and she applies this to the newly discovered electricity in order to create the monster. The French Revolution was also taking place as well as the Industrial Revolution and ‘Frankenstein’ reflects these changes about social injustice and passionate desire for reform. It is also believed that the Monster is an emblem of the struggle for the working class against the upper class, who in this case is Frankenstein, as a metaphor.
Mary Shelly was powerfully affected by her upbringing as her father was the philosopher William Godwin, and her mother was the pioneering feminist Mary Woolstonecraft both these influences are reflected in the novel. Her marriage to Percy Shelley who was a romantic poet also is echoed in the novel as Mary Shelley uses many traits of the Romantic Movement such as: innovation instead of traditionalism, freedom of thought and expression and the idealization of nature.
The origins of ‘Frankenstein’ link directly to one of Mary Shelley’s nightmares as well as a competition that she had with Lord Byron to see which individual could create the frightening, fearsome and bloodcurdling story. The structure of ‘Frankenstein’ remains constant in first person narration however the narrator changes during the course of the story. Frankenstein, the Monster and Robert Walton are all narrators and they often use letters as a means of narration like Frankenstein’s letters to Robert Walton.
The structure of ‘Frankenstein’ starts off with Robert Walton’s letters, then Victor Frankenstein’s story, moves on to Elizabeth’s letter which is followed by Alphonse’s letter and then the Monster’s story is told. There is also much debate about whether the Monster actually dies, as the last sentence states “… lost in distance and darkness. ” This indicates to the reader that the Monster may not actually be dead. This also proves to us that ‘Frankenstein’ is typical of gothic literature as it includes suspense and mystery which gothic genres usually include.
In gothic literature the main character is usually isolated. ‘Frankenstein’ fulfils the requirements of a gothic genre as both there main protagonists are isolated, but there isolation is different. Victor’s isolation is a result of his obsession for success, his devotion to his work “… two years passed in this manner… ” this shows us that Victor’s isolation was self imposed. The Monster’s isolation was rather different as the Monster was not accepted in the community because of his appearance, Ben elegant but still rejected and is rejected by his creator.
“… and the deformity of its structure, more hideous than belongs to humanity, instantly informed me that it was the wretch, the filthy daemon to whom I had given life. ” This shows us that the Monster is isolated as a result of his rejection rather than his choice. Even though Robert Walton is not a main character he is still a result of isolation, like with Frankenstein his isolation is also the result of his ambition “How slow the time passes here, encompassed as I am by frost and snow! Yet a second step is taken towards my enterprise.