Frankenstein and Gothic Literature
How it works
The character’s identity and outward appearance interferes with the norms of the hierarchical societies in which they live. Thus, preventing them from experiencing life outside of the isolated confinement they are subjected to. While experiencing a constant conflict with acceptance it strikes the curiosity inside them. In Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, the experience of loneliness and obsession of science drives Victor Frankenstein to assume the role of God by reanimating a corpse. The horror presented derives from the source of control and power.
Power is an overarching theme throughout this genre of gothic literature.
This dark and uncanny piece brings a shared experience with the rise and fall of the monster. Although Frankenstein is the doctor playing God and not the monster he is made monstrous by his decisions. He desires many human things from unhuman beings designing an artificial world. His self-claimed power to create from the dead a likeness of his curiosity and desires, experiences a shift in power that takes control away from Frankenstein. The unintended consequence when he loses control to the monster brings havoc on those nearest to him. In Poe’s The Fall of the House of Usher , the isolated setting led the characters to dread the events of the future, not in themselves, but in their results (Poe). The absence of love, affection and family are strong and evident in much of the text illustrating the need for companionship. Poe entertains the idea of the uncanny in The Fall of the House of Usher with the destruction of an established home that was once filled with love and a caring family.
Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, is a compelling tale of horror as well as an influential novel being the first major piece of literature in the science fiction category. While it was written nearly 200 years ago, its themes and messages are still relevant today in the article Why Frankenstein is Still Relevant, Almost 200 Years After it was Published . Frankenstein is a story about the unintended consequences of our misguided judgement. Abandoning his life’s work Victor is given a new perspective as he now regrets altering the laws of creation he failed because he followed a predisposition of human nature…[disgusted] at the monster’s appearanceand did not undertake the duty of any creator or parent: to teach his own charge and to educate others in acceptance (Brogan). As the creator of the monster, Victor, is expected to lead his creation/son through life and guide him as if it were his child. Brogan illuminates the uncanny in this literary analysis by providing, the perfect lens through which to examine scientific innovation (Brogan).
The article What can be done about our modern-day Frankenstein? gives a second perspective elucidating the significance of power in gothic literature. The control that knowledge and the unknown share over the characters manipulates their modus operandi. As the characters develop through the text they learn who they are by the challenges that they encounter by being connected to Frankenstein. The monster’s influence is unsighted the same way we see Alicia in Horacio Quiroga’s, The Feather Pillow and the parasite infestation. Characters from both pieces share a, great weakness that [is] unable to explain (Quiroga). The characters change in behaviors and metaphysical elements that are disrupted over time to reveal that something is different and wrong. Alicia’s life was fading away in the sub-delirium of anaemia, a delirium which grew worse through the evening hours […] (Quiroga). The source of her pain and illness isn’t visible until before the pillow was discarded. Alicia was drawn to the power of a unsuspecting creature, she no could no longer control what she was feeling or the images she was imagining.
In the case of Victor Frankenstein, Alicia and the Ushers’ the supernatural led to the destruction of their life. These characters led with a position of power, contributed to the destruction of their lives and quite possibly the lives of others. Their desire for knowledge and curiosity led the end of their lives.