Comparison between Shelley's Frankenstein, Whale's Frankenstein, Percy Shelley's poem Alastor

Essay by noobervescenceHigh School, 11th grade July 2007

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Mary Shelley’s “Frankenstein”, Whale’s “Frankenstein” and Percy Shelley’s “Alastor; or the spirit of solitude” are all Gothic texts that portray the values and attitudes of their time. Through a number of literary devices each composer shows many similar and different themes using gothic conventions. Despite their central similarities it is clear that each text is a response to a specific context. This essay will seek to highlight the shift in contexts, values and attitudes presented in these texts.

An element in all three texts that has been influenced by the Gothic genre is the consequences of the obsessions of their respective protagonists. In Mary Shelley’s text, the protagonists are seen to be destroyed by the “unremitting ardour” with which both of them “pursued (their) undertaking.” By using the Gothic concepts of duality and binary opposition Shelley portrays two very different characters with one disturbing personality trait – that is their hubris and unbridled ambition.

Victor becomes physically ill because of the “days and nights in vaults and charnel houses,” the “incredible labour and fatigue” finally taking its toll upon his body. This shows the dangers and consequences of Victor’s ambition and how he is destroying himself and his links with his friends. Walton’s obsession is indeed the same but his search for knowledge comes through exploration and he needlessly puts the lives of his crew at risk in order to satiate this thirst. This concept comes from Shelley’s own fears of the industrial revolution and that the application of science can lead to unintended consequence.

Henry Frankenstein’s ambition in Whale’s text is also shown as destructive throughout the film. He is destroying himself psychologically; shutting himself away from the care of his family and friends in order to follow a corrupt dream of creation. Whale shows the context...