Comparison of the Gothic Genre in "SAW", "Frankenstein" and its 1931 filmic adaptation.

Essay by grandimundi October 2007

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Gothic Horror is successful in its adaptive form as its relationship with the universal themes of the human psyche; the ‘suffering’ antagonist whom the reader can sympathise with, and a strong moral message have proven to be relevant through their appropriation reflecting society’s ever changing fears and values. Frankenstein by Shelley, its 1931filmic appropriation by James Whale, and the contemporary subversion of Gothic Horror SAW, directed by James Wan, altogether spanning over 200 years have been able to maintain this genre’s popularity through their composition which responds to the audience’s cultural context. Through filmic and literary devices, the aforementioned universal themes are constantly undergoing changes which mirror our fears whilst retaining distinct elements of traditional Gothic concerns.

One consistent fear of society is of insanity overriding our human psyche of consciousness and internalized morals, explored in each three texts via the mentally unbalanced characters who embody, ‘the nightmarish terrors that lie beneath the controlled and ordered surface of the conscious mind’-Abram.

In Frankenstein, Victor can be seen where he as deluded in hoping to usurp the role of God as ‘Creator’, an isolated figure bound by his moral transgressions hoping to forge a being in his image. The setting of the attic where he works conveys a sense of secrecy, an unethical means of conduct contrasted to Ingolstadt’s open laboratories. Through imagery, Shelley paints a deteriorating state of Victor’s mind- ‘My cheek had gone pale with study…Every night I was oppressed by a slow fever, the fall of the leaf startled me and I shunned my fellow creatures as if I had been guilty of a crime’. Initially a man with scientific brilliance, turned obsessive with creating life, Victor serves as Shelley’s message to her audience who lived in the Age of Rationalism. This period encouraged man’s inquisitiveness and...