Frankenstein: A Sentimental Tale

Essay by PaperNerd ContributorHigh School, 12th grade April 2001

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Mary Shelley's Frankenstein is voiced by history as one of the greatest horror novels of all time. Over the years the story of Frankenstein conjured up images of an evil monster created by the mad scientist, Dr. Victor Frankenstein. The evil monster turns on his creator and sets out on a mindless murderous rampage. At least this is the image that Hollywood has portrayed and capitalised on, many times over. The truth however, is much more complex than the simple-minded, groaning beast that roamed the cinema screens. Mary Shelley's story was in fact of a more gentle creature. Intelligent, well spoken and self-taught. A creature that only when rejected and treated with cruelty and savage hostility, became vengeful and violent. Frankenstein is a sentimental tale of loneliness, rejection, the need for human companionship, the virtues of comfort, shared love and affection.

Reading Shelley's life and background it is clear to see why she may have written such a deep Gothic novel.

Her mother died days after giving birth to Mary. After his remarriage Mary's father was a less than attentive father and Mary and her sister suffered cruelty at the hands of their stepmother. Mary then married Percy Shelley and they had four children but only one lived into adulthood. Mary's other children died at a very young age, her own sister committed suicide and when she was still only twenty-five she became a widow after her husband drowned. It is clear to see her life was plagued by death, disappointment, lack of love, sympathy and absent parents. Mary Shelley never knew a parent's love, she did not remember her mother's face and could not recall her voice. In reality she received little affection. A circumstance that is clearly reflected in Frankenstein.

Shelley emphasises the importance of domestic affection...