‘Frankenstein’ is typically thought of as Gothic Literature. There are many reasons why one might make this assumption. It contains ‘grotesque and savage creatures’ such as the monster and solitary characters like Frankenstein, Robert Walton and the monster. ‘Frankenstein’ was written during a time of social unrest. There were many changes occurring in society such as the industrial revolution. There were also lots of tension between the lower and upper classes such as The French Revolution.
Shelley’s parents, a feminist and a philosopher opened her eyes to these revolutionary ideas. One of these ideas was galvanism, which later gave Shelley the idea of bringing the monster in ‘Frankenstein’ to life. During Shelley’s life, she lost 3 children, which was one reason why she was so obsessed with death; her own experiences influenced her to concentrate on the fact of life and death. ‘Frankenstein’ originates from a ghost story, which Mary Shelley told from a nightmare she had previously had.
Her husband encouraged her to expand the book and have it published, which she did in 1818. ‘Frankenstein’ contains a unique structure, as there are 3 first person narrators. This is unusual as there is normally only one narrator or storyteller. The 3 narrators tell their own stories to each other. All the while, the reader is listening to the story. It contains a series of narratives in different forms as the monster and Frankenstein tell their stories out loud while Robert Walton’s story is told in the form of a letter.
There are many cases of the isolated protagonist, one being Victor Frankenstein who self imposed his isolation by becoming so obsessed with galvanism and shutting off the rest of the world to concentrate on bringing his monster to life. He lost contact with his friends and family while losing his enthusiasm for the outside world. Another isolated character is the monster that is not accepted by the average, local people because of his deformity. At one point in the novel, he was described as “the filthy daemon”; this quote is also typically gothic as daemons are thought of as scary, gruesome creatures.
‘Frankenstein’ illustrates the breakdown of boundaries and the exploration of what is forbidden. Victor Frankenstein’s ambition to create life is against the law and forbidden. The monster is a killer, which is also forbidden. Mary Shelley has used numerous gruesome descriptions of the monster to create a gothic atmosphere. “I saw the dull yellow eye of the creature open; it breathed hard, and a convulsive motion agitated its limbs”, here, the creature is being described as an ugly, helpless monster.
In chapter 7 Shelley uses the line “More hideous than belongs to humanity”, which is very gothic as they are saying the monster doesn’t deserve to be classed as a human due to its appearance and therefore it is a ghastly creature. There are many elements in ‘Frankenstein’, which determine between good and evil. It is debatable whether the monster is good or evil as he murders William, Clerval and Elizabeth but this could be seen as a cry for help. He has a warm heart but no one will accept him, causing him to misbehave for attention from his creator, Frankenstein.