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Enthralling Romantic Gothic Classic that is genre defining
on 17 May 2017
Shelley’s novel is transgressive in its content, and more transgressive in its nature – written by a female (at age 19!) under a pseudonym to penetrate the public approval. This novel explores human emotions, good and bad, in response to the ‘Other’ in true gothic fashion. The grunting, green-faced, bolt-bearing monster depicted by film and media is a pale imitation of Shelley’s masterpiece – but the original is a 'blue-print' for all monster creations. Despite being a cautionary tale on how nature, which is essentially good, can be corrupted by ill treatment – contemporary depictions have departed from the original characterization of an extremely well-spoken monster with immense speed and grace.
An intelligent and ambitious young student indulges a moment of thoughtless scientific passion and creates life. Horrified at his creation, Victor Frankenstein shuns the creature and attempts to discard it from his life and thoughts. The creature, however, is lost in an unkind world and seeks affection, and upon rejection then seeks revenge.
STUDENT NOTES (5/5)
+ Although many reviewers note The York Notes version usefulness at GCSE, I found in instrumental at helping me receive an A* at A-Level as well:
a) The (character, theme and quotation) analysis is brilliant, clear and precise.
b) The exam questions, key quotations and chapter summaries were invaluable
c) The responses to the text, both modern and those from Shelley's contemporaries are invaluable (especially the feminist and psychoanalytical essays).
+ Both main characters are easy to empathise with despite being completely at heads – both Victor (the ambitious scientist who realises his overreach and attempts to redeem himself) and the monster (whose fragile psyche is birthed from rejection)
+ The original, but nevertheless still one of the most remarkable science fiction stories ever written, its relevance persists today as scientific discovery journeys further than before into ethical ambiguity (GM food, AI, cloning) and discrimination still exists in all its forms.
+ Typically Romantic and beautifully descriptive prose, particularly regarding the natural world.
- The book begins very slowly with excessive detail, and the epistolary form makes it hard to convey any sense of suspense. But if you persist despite this you will be drawn in to Shelley's world.