Romance And Gothic Ideas In Mary Shelley's Frankenstein

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By examining the resource rich setting of a novel, readers of Mary Shelley’s 1818 novel Frankenstein can come to understand the author’s many significant ideas. Frankenstein is a gothic novel, written in the romantic period of 1800-1850 and thus combines elements of both romance and horror. The gothic genre was ‘invented’ by Horace Walpole in his “The Castle of Otranto (1764) where he described it as aiming for a “pleasing sort of terror” that emphasizes emotions of both fear and awe. An understanding of the gothic genre and its conventions is key to understanding the author 's purposeful use of setting to contain their significant ideas. Commonly featuring settings of sublime nature, women victims and religious settings and concepts, these typical gothic conventions of setting can…show more content…
The time setting of 1818 reveals patriarchal society present where women serve domestic roles and a utilitarian purpose, making the ‘woman victim’ convention fit into place. Daughter of Mary Wollstonecraft, a radical feminist and author of “A Vindication of the Rights of Women”, Shelley made a feminist political point of crafting her women as passive characters of little substance with no detailed description. These women provide nothing more but a channel of action for the male characters in the novel. Events and actions happen to them, usually for the sake of teaching a male character a lesson or sparking an emotion within him. As Johanna M Smith again summed up in her article, "women function not in their own right but rather as signals of and conduits for men 's relations with other men." The first woman victim, Justine, when framed for the murder of William, remains passive when wrongly accused. She consequently becomes an inactive, docile victim of circumstance. She is used as a pawn in the power game between Frankenstein and the monster and is used to illustrate Frankenstein’s weakness and vanity- he should have accepted responsibility and spoken

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