Horror and fear at the emergence of the monster in Chapter 5 of Frankenstein

Horror and fear at the emergence of the monster in Chapter 5 of Frankenstein

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Mary Shelley's Frankenstein is a work of Gothic horror - a branch of romantic fiction characterized by its focus on sublime emotions. The genre is often inspired by nightmares with the intent to inspire horror and emotion in the reader.
The era in which the novel was written, around the time of 1816, followed a period of great scientific advancement. Shelley's style is heavily influenced by the romantic poets with whom she spent time and her plot was influenced almost undoubtedly by the scientists of her time, who after its recent discovery had a great fascination with electricity and its effects on the human body. Public displays of experiments were common, something Shelley would have been aware of.
The famous French philosopher Rousseau and its setting in the Romantic Era seem also to have influenced the themes in the book with its focus on the necessity of emotion and the importance of protecting nature, something which could actually be seen as the main ?message? of the book. Her book is a warning against the ?over-reaching? of man and she uses the Gothic style to shock 19th Century readers.
But what of the modern relevance of Frankenstein? Although the specific techniques used we now know thanks to modern science to be impossible, Frankenstein still has power to inspire fear in the modern reader, perhaps because, with the advancement of Science and the huge opportunities to ?play God? now open to man, Shelly's ideas are just as applicable today.
Though told through the triple narration of Frankenstein, the monster and Robert Walton, the bulk of the novel is told from Frankenstein's point of view as he relates his life story to Walton, so that he can learn from Frankenstein's mistakes. His narrative reveals to the re...


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...ce breeching comfortable or natural boundaries is something which still causes instinctive unease in the majority of people. That human instinct is exactly what Shelley demonstrated Frankenstein was lacking. It was his abscission from every natural feeling, the understanding of human emotion on more than just a rational level that allowed Frankenstein to create the monster. This parallel between 19th and 20th Century response gives equal if not greater relevance to the novel's themes to modern day. The arsenal of knowledge now available to mankind to commit moral atrocities is even more extensive than in the era which provoked Mary Shelley's cautioning book. Frankenstein has removed the element of glory from succeeding in pushing the boundaries of science, instilling in the reader a greater respect for the true power of nature and for man?s inability to control it.

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