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Mary Shelley & ‘Frankenstein’ Essay

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“How do the themes explored by Mary Shelley in ‘Frankenstein’ relate to a modern audience? ” The beginning of civilisation brought the evidential classification of people as insiders and outsiders in any close society, due to the narrow stereotypical minds of the masses and often the simplistic facts of life. People are separated from the rest of the community as a result of perhaps their physical appearance or a difference in their personality.

Stereotypical idols in today’s society are greatly influential; we are quick to identify faults in others and use this excuse to ostracise them from the world and ourselves. Mary Shelley embodies this ‘outsider’ through the monster that Frankenstein creates. He is isolated and rejected by everyone, so we are made to empathise with him; human beings have a natural instinct to do this, so the text is universalised.

Ironically, at times the monster is more humane than those who consider themselves human, those who consider themselves ‘insiders’, opposed to the monster- an outsider. This novel opens on a personal note, Shelley uses the device of letters as a hook to draw in the reader; an invasion of privacy universalises the thoughts on paper, like reading someone else’s diary. This makes it easier for us to empathise to Captain Walton and subsequently Victor Frankenstein, who is very similar in many aspects to him.

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These two strong male characters are romanticised by Shelley make them easier to relate to in a modern audience, because they far more believable with multi- faceted personalities. They are romantic anti- heroes; their ambition intrigues us and we are able to identify with them and their achievements. The letters are deliberately left without an exact date, so as to not only create a sense of mystery but to also ensure that the story isn’t concreted to a specific era, as it relates more to society as a whole rather than a period of time.

Shelley uses a high diction style of writing, which is littered with emotive adjectives to prevent it becoming stagnated and boring for the audience. The information is given to us little at a time to arouse our curiosity and make us read further into the book, where crescendos are commonly used after a more mundane part of the story, so the excitement peaks and falls throughout. An example of this is when the monster is first sighted in letter 4 where there is a dramatic climax before he disappears from view, leaving the audience in doubt of what will happen next.

A prominent theme in Mary Shelley’s ‘Frankenstein’ is one of an idealistic world. Victor idealises his family, like a fairytale, too good to be true in reality, which it seems he wants to escape as he knows his family are far from perfect, and a good example of this is portrayed in the quote; “There was a considerable difference between ages of my parents, but this circumstance seemed to unite them closer in the bonds of devoted affection. ” (Ch1, pg33, line7)

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