How is Frankenstein a product of its time? Discuss in relation to Volume 1 The conception of the monster circumvents nature. Mary Shelley’s eponymously entitled novel, Frankenstein, was published in 1818 during the time of the industrial revolution and is considered to be of a hybrid genre. During Volume 1, Frankenstein is shown as a product of its time through the idea that nature is the sublime, the exploration of the Gothic and the idea that Victor Frankenstein represents the modern Prometheus. The description of nature is repeatedly used during significant or emotional moments in Victor’s life.
It was a most beautiful season; never did the fields bestow a more plentiful harvest, or the vines yield a more luxuriant vintage: but my eyes were insensible to the charms of nature” The line shows Victor’s confession, that he has become fully detached from the outside world and is focusing everything on his creation. The use of pathetic fallacy conveys the idea that nature continues to salvage what humanity Victor has left and tries guide him away from the dangerous knowledge which he has gained in order to create the monster.
Frankenstein explores the idea of Gothic nature. The death of Victor’s mother, Caroline, impacted the nature of which wanted to create a “new species”, “but when the lapse of time proves the reality of evil, then the actual bitterness of grief commences. ” The death of Victor’s mother symbolizes his desire for the maternal features, which he is incapable of attaining due to her death. The idea that Victor is a necrophiliac is conveyed in the line, “a churchyard was to me merely the receptacle of bodies deprived of life. The use of cemeteries creates a graphic and gothic image upon the reader and explains that dead people did not concern him. The first sighting of the monster was by Captain Walton. Walton states in his letter to his sister Margaret, “a being which had the shape of a man, but apparently of gigantic statue, sat in the sledge, and guided the dogs. ” The gothic image of the monster suggests the abnormality of the monster. This idea is heightened with the use of the word “gigantic”, which suggests that it does not have the same human characteristics as others.
The sighting is emphasised through the nature and environment around the ship, “The ice closed the ship on all sides,” (MORE) The mythology Frankenstein, draws on the idea of the Prometheus. Victor Frankenstein is shown playing with life and therefore creating a God-like impression on the reader. “A new species would bless me as its creator and source,” the transgression of boundaries can be seen through this statement made by Victor Frankenstein as the statement is genuinely associated with God.
It shows he wants to be praised and seen as a mother figure towards his creation. Victor also represents the debate between reason and science, “How can I describe my emotions at this catastrophe [… ] I had endeavoured to form? ” This line shows the juxtaposition between reason and science. The use of the word “catastrophe” shows his salvage of reason, while “I had endeavoured to form” conveys his obsessive nature to create his monster. The monster is the consequence of his obsessive nature and as a result is repulsed by his “yellow skin [… hair of lustrous black [… ] more horrid contrast with his watery eyes [… ] shrivelled complexion and straight black lips. ” The image which has been revealed provides the reader with a detailed description of the monster and also exposes Victors feelings towards the monster. During the time the novel was written, the monsters long, black hair associates his image with that of gypsies and therefore creates the idea that he is of a foreign nature.
The Industrial Revolution allowed for increased technology which the novel Frankenstein used effectively in order to create the idea of the “monster”. As previously discussed, Frankenstein is a product of its time. The idea that nature is the sublime, the exploration of the Gothic and the idea that Victor Frankenstein represents the modern Prometheus accentuates our understanding of the features during the 19th Century and the connection between the novel and the world at the time.
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