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The Development of the Gothic Genre in Mary Shelley's Frankenstein

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The Development of the Gothic Genre in Mary Shelley's Frankenstein

Up until 1800, literature in general consisted of a spontaneous

expression of idyllic images of love - ultimately categorised as "The

Romantic Movement." From this sprouted Romanticism's antithesis -

literary Gothicism.

When it was first introduced in the late 18th century, Gothic

literature featured accounts of terrifying experiences set in

graveyards or ancient castles, and descriptive motifs such as

flickering lamps and ghostly figures. These have now become images of

stereotypical horror. As it developed, Gothic literature came to

designate everything to do with the macabre, mysterious and

supernatural in literature more generally.

Now one of the most recognisable forms of literature, Gothicism gained

its popularity due to the stark contrast from anything that preceded

it, and the surrounding controversy that shocked and intrigued its

audiences. New scientific discovery swept across 18th century

civilization, and the need for knowledge had overcome society. To the

less educated, Gothic literature, (with its strong themes of science,)

was seen as a way to further understand and involve themselves within

these interesting developments, while the experienced scientist would

be curious of the science mentioned in Gothicism.

Another major theme that Gothicism claimed was religion. The society

of mid 1800 looked upon God as an omnipotent figure; he was powerful,

judgmental and supreme. However, many opposing and previously

untouched views on God were infused in the theme of Gothic literature.

Even today, the difference between science and religion is a topi...

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...ect and his morals were dissolute, and

his eventual insanity, Frankenstein - and the reader - becomes fully

immersed in the twisted macabre and supernatural horror of the Gothic

novel. It dares to shock its audience with taboo subjects, leaving

them with the enduring feeling that they have been awoken to a darker

side of life. "Frankenstein", along with the rest of the gothic genre,

shattered the tight-knit and perhaps naive society of the 18th

century, causing some to shun it out of their lives, but in many

others it provoked the hidden fascination with all things to do with

the macabre, sinister side to life. As in 1800, this effect is still

prevalent in our modern, less bigoted society, and today many elements

of Gothicism are featured in stories, and interlaced within the plots

of horror films throughout the world.