Gothic novels find it’s roots in Horace Walpole’s Castel of Otranto which involves supernaturalism, walking skeletons, witchcrafts, torture chambers, ruined abbeys and all kind of stage props which provokes negativity. Since Walpole is the founder of the gothic genre in literature. Following his foot steps, many eminent authors came up with gothic fictional works which have later been leveraged into classics and are cherished till today. Some of the most renowned gothic novels are Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier, Jamaica Inn by Daphne du Maurier, Vathek by William Beckford, the Phantom of the Opera by Gaston Leroux, Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen, Frankenstein or the Modern Prometheus by Mary Shelley, Dracula by Bram Stoker and so on.
Amongst these, there are gothic novels which are written in epistolary format. An epistolary novel is the one in which the whole story is written in the form of letters. These gothic novels which are written in epistolary format are also known as epistolary novels. Epistolary novel is genre in literature founded by Samuel Richardson. An epistolary novel is anyway more appealing than a novel which in which the incidents are written in flashbacks. An epistolary novel seems more lively as the incidents are written down on the very time and day they take place.
Such is an epistolary novel and yet gothic is Mary Shelley’sFrankenstein or the Modern Prometheus. It is said that it so happened that once Mary Shelley, her husband Percy Bysshe Shelley and Lord Byron were on an outing and were sitting on the sea shore when they decided to play a game. The game was like that of a challenge that who could finish writing a plot of a story within a night. It was Mary Shelley who had plot the story of Frankenstein within a night which obviously later culminated into a world classic.
Frankenstein or The Modern Prometheus is one of the greatest of science fictions of the earlier times. It is the scientist who’s name is Frankenstein and not the monster, the monster is rather nameless. The full name of the scientist is Victor Frankenstein. The novel commences with a letter written by the captain of a ship R. Walton to his sister Mrs. Saville. Basically the whole story is narrated by this particular captain through letters to his sister.
Victor Frankenstein, who was a science freak right from childhood was not allowed to go to school or was provided with proper education after the death of his mother. He grew up with his cousin Elizabeth, his only beloved, whom he was bethroted to. Frankenstein used to spend his days reading various books of science in the library of his father. One day it so happened that he fled away to some other city to make an exposure of his knowledge but lack of any degree deprived him from this dream. He wanted to be known to the world as he wanted to create something out of the box with the help of science. Victor comes across a dead body which his scarred all over. No sooner did he come across the dead body than an idea clicked his mind. He dragged the dead body to a small apartment he was living in. The apartment was situated in a remote place. He made the dead body lay there in the apartment and started off with his scientific experiments on the dead body. Victor was fascinated by the idea of breathing life into dead body. If he succeeds to do so then he would be nothing less that god. Six years of hard work with no proper food or sleep Victor kept on experimenting on the body and one day his hard work paid off but in a notorious way. Victor ended up creating a monster which was way too powerful than it’s master. He created a grotesque and a sapient creature. Victor was scared of his own creation as the monster was so beastly and so destructive that Victor locked him up in the apartment and ran away. However, the weak wooden doors of the apartment could not keep the monster circumscribed. The monster came out and desperately searched for his master. He could find his master and all he demanded was to take care of him and socialise him to the world. Victor refused to do so. The monster asked him to make a female counter part of him so that they both can reside to the forest and live in peace, away from the mankind. Victor also made a refusal to this as he though creation of another monster like this would later give birth to many monsters which in turn would bring destruction to the normal beings.
Though the monster looks scary, and destructive but this particular character is the one who is to be pitied as the monster has a beastly look from outside but the truth is he is child like from inside who wants his life like other people of the village, he wants to play with the children and do everything that other men do. He keeps himself hidden from everyone as whenever he comes out amongst people, tries to explain himself, he gets beaten up by people which has eventually turned him furious and he holds Victor responsible for his miserable state.
Towards the end of the story, Victor was found by R. Walton who brings him in his ship and makes him sit by the fireplace. After getting back to shape a bit with fear still dominating him, Victor Frankenstein narrated the whole story to Walton who later conveyed it to his sister through letters. After some time the monster broke out into the ship and killed Victor and then to everyone’s surprise he did not harm any other member of the ship, he jumped into the cold ocean instead and vanished forever.
The novel raises certain questions which have remained unsolved even today. Metaphorically the novel points out or let’s say highlights the modern flaws of people who wanted to be equal to the divine which led them to damnation. Through this novel, Shelley also points out towards the ill treatment which was inflicted on the poor people, which she has probably learnt from her father Godwin.
The novel is the basis of Western horror story and many movies and and animations were made based on this novel since it is the world’s first science fiction. The story bears philosophical aspects and opposes the ideals of goodness in nature. Mary’s life was somewhat similar to that of the monster in the novel. She was the daughter of a philosopher William Godwin and Mary Wollstonecraft. She lost her mother after her birth. She had to live with her foster parents after which she eloped with Percy Bysshe Shelley. She gave birth to five children but then only one of them was alive. After some days her husband also got drowned in an accident. The monster in the novel is somewhat a caricature of herself and portrays her own life.
Mary Shelley was born in London in 1797. She was a writer of plays, essays and novels, most famously Frankenstein: A Modern Prometheus. She also used to edit her husband’s works. Frankenstein has become an ironic work in the horror genre, and has inspired countless films and stage adaptations. Mary Shelley died in 1851.