The Modern Metaphor for Monstrosity

Essay by snoogansHigh School, 12th gradeA+, April 2004

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Mary Shelley epitomizes the gothic ideal in her novel Frankenstein. The story of Frankenstein and his monster focuses on grotesque and often disturbing ideas that both shock and intrigue its readers. Underneath all of the ugliness are many themes that pertain to her society as well as our society today. In particular, Mary Shelley portrays the theme of monstrosity physically, emotionally, and figuratively in Frankenstein.

The monster's appearance reveals one facet of the novel that expresses monstrosity in a strictly physical aspect. "His limbs were in proportion, and I had selected his features as beautiful. Beautiful! Great God! His yellow skin scarcely covered the work of muscles and arteries beneath; his hair was of a lustrous black, and flowing; his teeth of a pearly whiteness; but these luxuriances only formed a more horrid contrast with his watery eyes, that seemed almost of the same colour as the dun-white sockets in which they were set, his shriveled complexion and straight black lips" (42).

Clearly, this description of the monster is not very flattering. The monster was intended to be a creature that could blend into society without much notice. He should have looked like a normal human who, in the presence of a person, would appear to be average or even attractive. Frankenstein, instead, created a creature that was absurdly opposite from his original vision. This monster would never be able to function in society as an accepted person. "Frankenstein is fueled by the kind of grotesque, faintly absurd, and wildly inventive images that spring direct from the unconscious: the eight-foot creature designed to be "beautiful," who turns out almost indescribably repulsive (yellow-skinned, shriveled of countenance, with straight black lips and near-colorless eyes)"m" (Oates 67). Again, this statement shows that the scientist's vision ends up being very blurred after the reincarnation...