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“Although Frankenstein should rightly take its place

within the Gothic genre, it has been suggested that its


achievement place it beyond such narrow
classification.”
I shall answer this question in two parts: First, I will analyse an extract from the book (the
1831 edition) in terms of Gothic features and devices, after which I shall discuss other
themes in the book as a whole.

Firstly, we must establish what the Gothic genre actually is. Horace Walpole founded the
Gothic genre with The Castle of Otranto and, in literary terms, Gothic refers to the style
of writing that sprung up during the 18th and 19th centuries which focused on dark,
macabre and often supernatural themes. A gothic novel’s principal function was to scare,
and there were a number of ideas and techniques specific to the gothic genre to do this.

The extract begins at Chapter 5 – ‘It was on a dreary night of November’.


It is interesting that Shelley chooses this month as, in mainland Europe, November was
known as ‘the month of the dead’. This idea originated in medieval Italy, when the whole
month of November was dedicated to praying for the dead, and the idea spread through
the continent.

By setting the monster’s awakening on ‘a dreary night’, Shelley is using a classic Gothic
technique – of setting dramatic events in dreary or unexciting places. The ‘dreary night’
contrasts with the drama that is to come, so when it does come we are unprepared and
thus more shocked and scared when the monster awakes.

There is a strong sense of bitterness in ‘the accomplishment of my toils’ – it seems ironic;


he feels his accomplishment is no accomplishment at all, but a mistake, a blunder, an
abomination. His mental turmoil is apparent here; when he made the monster he was
tortured, agonised, by anticipation and expectation – though now he is tortured and
agonised by guilt about its creation. Not only that, but I think he also feels guilty about
his anticipation; he feels disgusted not only by his actions at the time, but also by his own
mental processes, the thoughts themselves that ultimately led to the monster’s creation.
He now feels repelled by the memory of his earnestness and obsession, so strongly
repelled in fact, that just before the extract begins he claims that ‘If the study to which
you apply yourself has the tendency to weaken your affections and, and to destroy your
taste for those simple pleasures which no alloy can possibly mix, then that study is
certainly unlawful…not befitting the human mind.’ There is also evidence of this idea
outside of the extract, after the murder of Clerval and Frankenstein’s subsequent
delirium, he says; ‘I remembered, shuddering, the mad enthusiasm that hurried me on to
the creation of my hideous enemy.’
‘Instruments of life’ is very interesting. It seems to contradict itself, to be paradoxical as
the very nature of life lies in its organic and natural origins, the fact that it is not
something that can be made with machines, and the idea of scientific instruments to
create it seems a strange idea. Instruments also conveys the idea of artificiality, and the
word seems to emphasise the idea that the monster is not a born thing, but a made thing,
that the monster is not his own, but is the realisation of another’s ideas. There is also a
slight feminist slant to this; a woman can make a human being (and a real human being –
not a monster) using only her body, but for a man to try to ape this gift, he needs these
cold, emotionless ‘instruments of life’.

‘My candle was nearly burnt out, when, by the glimmer of the half-extinguished light, I
saw the dull yellow eye of the creature open’.
What Shelley does here is to use the candle to emphasise the extent to which
Frankenstein has poured himself into the creation of the monster. I believe that the candle
is a metaphor for Frankenstein’s self, his sanity and his innocence. In the long and
unpleasant process of creation, Frankenstein loses his innocence and much of his
personality and seems nearly to lose his life through fatigue. It highlights the state
Frankenstein was in when he created the monster, he is almost finished; he has nearly
poured all of himself into his work and precious little of his old self – and sanity –
remains. However, in almost killing himself, Frankenstein endows another creature with
life – just as Mary Shelley’s mother died in giving birth to her. This idea of life coming
from death, this idea of its transference from one to another is a common Gothic theme,
one example being vampires who stay alive only by killing and drinking the blood of
others.

The ‘dull yellow eye’ is also very Gothic, with yellow and brown being the principle
Gothic colours.

Frankenstein’s description of the monster has several classic Gothic elements. Though he
chooses individually beautiful features, when combined and when deformed and changed
by death they add up to a hideous whole. Frankenstein describes lustrous black hair and
pearly white teeth, but apparently the monster’s skin, eyes and skin are horrifically ugly
and the beautiful aspects makes the ugliness even worse in comparison. This
amalgamation of beauty and the grotesque is a common Gothic idea – with the idea that
one will always exaggerate the other, that a beautiful thing will appear more beautiful by
comparison, or that a hideous thing will become more hideous, as is the case with the
monster.1
However, the idea of the marriage of the beauty and the grotesque extends further than
this; and that is that one cannot exist without the other, and that any thing will have
elements of both1. In most cases, the ‘grotesque’ of a newborn baby – to balance its
beauty – would be the defilement of its conception.1 The monster has not been conceived,
so if this grotesque aspect of it is to exist, it must manifest itself in physical hideousness.
But why could the monster not have been made beautiful with an ugly soul? Shelley (like
the monster) had been greatly affected by Milton’s masterpiece Paradise Lost, so she
believed that when man was first made, like a child, his natural state of mind is pure,
innocent and benevolent. So it is the same for the monster, an Adam – reconstituted it is
true – but entirely new for that. He is the first of a potentially new sentient species, and so
is born in that state of purity possessed by Adam and Eve before they were corrupted by
Satan – just as the monster would be corrupted by Frankenstein and the world’s rejection
of him.

Frankenstein’s extreme revulsion to the monster is also very interesting in other ways.
The Japanese roboticist Masahiro Mori found that the closer a robot came to simulating a
human form and movement, human observers became more and more instinctively
repelled by it. The repulsion was greatly increased if the robot moved. It seems that Mary
Shelley had already had this idea; that it was the monster’s almost-humanness that made
it so awful. If it looked only vaguely human, any human characteristics would have stood
out, making the thing more human and therefore less repulsive. However, the monster is
so close to humanity that where it differs seems hugely exaggerated by comparison,
making it infinitely strange and alien. This idea is supported from Frankenstein’s words –
‘I had gazed on the thing while unfinished; he was ugly then, but when those muscles and
joints were rendered capable of motion, it became a thing such as even Dante could not
have conceived’.
Again the monster’s yellowy colour is mentioned. Yellow is an important Gothic colour
because of its association with sickness, jaundice and death.

Frankenstein speaks of ‘depriving himself of rest and health’. This wakefulness and
insomnia is another classic Gothic sentiment, where the hero or heroine cannot sleep,
cannot rest and are tortured by their insomnia. In Frankenstein’s case, he seems largely
unperturbed by lack of sleep, his fervour for his creation taking precedence over rest. In
many ways this is a chilling idea – that Frankenstein’s cold single-mindedness was turned
to something so terrible as creating a human out of dead parts. Frankenstein seems to
have something of the Byronic hero about him, with Frankenstein’s depressive
personality, his introspection and apparent coldness, his self-destructive creation of the
monster, self-induced outcast status and his sexual deviance; i.e.: his strange, seemingly
incestuous relationship with the foundling raised as his sister, Elizabeth. It could have
been that some of these aspects of Frankenstein were modelled on Byron himself, who
inspired Shelley to write the book. Certainly in the 1818 edition, Frankenstein is closer to
the Byronic hero than in the later one, where he has been softened and more sensitized. It
has also been suggested that Frankenstein is also reminiscent of Lucifer in Paradise Lost
– the arrogance, the self-centeredness, creating a monster (in Lucifer’s case, Sin).
It is also Frankenstein’s behaviour which results in the monster becoming corrupted and
evil, in the same way that Lucifer engineers the Fall in Paradise Lost.

Having said that, it could be that Lucifer is Frankenstein’s alter ego – and it is this alter
ego which manifests itself in the monster. Let me explain. Frankenstein is ‘playing God’;
he is the ‘creator’ figure. His creation – into which he has poured much of himself, as
explained earlier – is the embodiment of two characters from Paradise Lost. The monster
is Adam – a new being, unsullied by Original Sin and therefore innocent, and the monster
is also Lucifer. Because God, as well as Adam, created Lucifer and – as God was the only
thing there was at the time – he must have created Lucifer out of himself. Lucifer,
therefore, beautiful of form and beautiful of conception, must have an evil self and is
afflicted by the Sin of Pride, in accordance with the idea of beauty and the grotesque, so
he turns against God and wreaks evil on the world. It is possible that in creating the
monster, the part of Frankenstein’s self that went into it was that Lucifer alter-ego. Before
creating the monster, Frankenstein – like Lucifer – was arrogant (‘among so many men of
genius...I alone should be reserved to discover so astonishing a secret’), obsessive ( ‘...I
pursued my undertaking with unremitting ardour...’) and sought to replace God (‘...a new
species would bless me as its creator...’). However, the process of creation transfers this
part of Frankenstein into the monster – as afterward Frankenstein loses his arrogance, his
earnestness and his desire to play God. Therefore the monster, once corrupted, exhibits
this Lucifer alter-ego and turns against his creator and commits various acts of evil
against him and the world in general.
In Gothic terms, Frankenstein creates his own doppelganger (a common Gothic figure)
from the darkest parts of his own personality. The monster’s body could be a vessel for
the ‘psychic projection caused by unresolved anxieties’2 in the mind of Victor
Frankenstein.

Dreams are very important to the Gothic genre2, being a vital way to reveal the innermost
desires or fears of a character. ‘Dreams dredge up...deep emotions and premonitions that
reflect tellingly upon the dreamer’2 This is the case with Frankenstein’s disturbing dream,
in which he seems to give a kiss of death to Elizabeth, as her lips become ‘livid with the
hue of death’ when he kisses them. Frankenstein would have been especially distressed
by this; his thorough familiarity with all aspects of death and decay would have made this
‘hue of death’ extremely vivid to him, which would have reminded him of his studies of
death, the long, laborious process of creation, and the creation of the monster itself. The
dream also reveals subconscious fears that by creating life, he is bringing death – not only
to the thing he has created (‘to give something life is to give it death’) – but to his loved
ones. Of course, these fears turn out to be prophetic as the monster begins to kill
Frankenstein’s loved ones in revenge for its rejection.

However, more disturbing still is not that Elizabeth dies, but that she turns into her dead
mother. This once again refers to the Gothic idea of life coming from death, as
Frankenstein’s mother died in nursing Elizabeth to health when she was ill. However, in
this case it is reversed, that is to say, death comes from life. Elizabeth is replaced by her
dead mother and n the same way, the deaths of William, Clerval and Elizabeth come
about as a direct result of the monster’s life. The dream is also very morbid and grotesque
and the detail to which Mary Shelley goes into in describing the ruined flesh of
Frankenstein’s dead mother and the grave-worms is very Gothic.

‘...my teeth chattered, and every limb became convulsed: when, by the dim and yellow
light of the moon...’. Here, Shelley relates Frankenstein’s awakening to the awakening f
the monster. Both awakenings are convulsive, and both occur by a dim and yellow light,
the monster by ‘half-extinguished’’ candlelight, Frankenstein by yellow moonlight. This
demonstrates that Frankenstein and the monster are inextricably linked, that they are
different aspects of the same self – and confirms the monster’s status as Victor’s
doppelgänger.
His eyes, if eyes they may be called’. This is a classic Gothic device – to name an object,
and then disqualify its status as that object.
The monster is given almost an animal quality and Frankenstein’s description of its
movements is also very much of the Gothic genre – ‘his jaws opened, and he muttered
some inarticulate sounds, while a grin wrinkled its cheeks’.

‘It became a thing such as even Dante could not have conceived’
Instead of describing every physical detail of the monster, Shelley uses the typically
Gothic technique of omitting detail. Instead Shelley records the reaction of Frankenstein
towards it and most of the details are left to the reader’s imagination. This has the double
effect of both implying that the monster is too terrible to describe, and allowing the
reader to imagine the monster as the most frightening and terrible thing to them. Because
it is not explicitly described, it is largely unknown, and fear of the unknown is a very
common and profound human fear.

Despite the monster’s appearance, his characteristics seem to be gentle – the outstretched
arm is not to detain him, it is a gesture of greeting, friendship, a non-verbal request for
acceptance; which exhibits Adam’s naivety and innocence, and also the beautiful soul in
the grotesque shell. It could also be a gesture of gratitude, which gives Frankenstein’s
flight a Gothic irony– as this gratitude was one of the things that Frankenstein had
fantasized about -‘...a new species would bless me as its creator...’.

As a result of making the monster, Frankenstein becomes much more aware of his own
organic self – ‘...I felt the palpitation of every artery...’ – which shows the profound
effect that Frankenstein’s knowledge has upon his psyche. Again, it is Frankenstein’s
biological knowledge that is haunting him.

When day dawns, Frankenstein does not seek out the monster to try to destroy it, rather
he is too wrapped up in his own self-pity, his remorse that ‘dreams that had been my food
and pleasant rest for so long a space now became a hell to me’. He seems more
remorseful of the time and energy he put into a thing which he now hated than concerned
about caring for it or destroying it.
Shelley uses the Gothic technique of claustrophobia to describe the way in which
Frankenstein feels trapped and isolated in the situation, as his creation of such a monster
has cut him off from the rest of humanity. Claustrophobia in the Gothic sense can mean
many things, including ‘the victim's sense of helplessness or horrified mental awareness
of being enmeshed in some dark, inscrutable destiny.’2

‘…discovered to my sleepless and aching eyes the church of Ingolstadt’.


The placement of the church in this scene seems strange. Frankenstein is essentially an
amoral novel, exhibited by both Frankenstein’s and the monster’s amoral natures.
Frankenstein appears to have no religious feeling – he thought of graveyards merely as
body-depositories and still he thinks only of the church as a way to tell the time. The
sight of the church does not arouse any religious guilt or feeling, and he does not even
seem to register its status as a place of worship a religious building. This links to the
Gothic genre in that it is a common feature of Gothic literature that it features some
perversion of religion. Early Gothic writing had its basis in superstitious beliefs, and
much of Christianity – especially Catholicism – was entrenched in various forms of
superstition. Gothic tales were mainly written by people in Protestant countries, so many
Gothic tales have an anti-catholic slant, associating Catholicism with backwardness and
superstition. Because of this, many original Gothic horror stories feature perversions of
religious ideas – evil, ghostly monks, haunted cathedrals, demons and devils and cursed
churchyards.

‘The porter opened the gates of the court which had that night been my asylum’
The word ‘asylum’ seems to emphasise Frankenstein’s mental state, his madness, his fear
and paranoia. This could be an example of the Gothic idea of the pathetic fallacy, the idea
of endowing inanimate objects with dynamic force, in this case a courtyard with the
power of both consciously sheltering and being a place for the mad – a rather tenuous
connection it is true, but it could be a genuine one.

‘I issued into the streets, pacing them with quick steps, as if I sought to avoid the wretch
whom I feared every turning of the street would present to my view.’
This is a classic case of the Gothic figure of the Pursued Protagonist2 – a character
pursued by a force which pursues as a result of the character’s own actions. This pursuing
force is inexorable, unstoppable and has an extremely negative effect on the pursued. The
pursued protagonist also often implies a curse, or some form of inevitable damnation. In
this case, the presence of the monster embodies both of these ideas.

‘…I felt impelled to hurry on, although drenched by rain which fell from a black and
comfortless sky’. This ‘black and comfortless sky’ is a very Gothic image, and the idea
that landscape and weather have a dynamic force and both reflects and influence human
behaviour. This idea is known as ‘the sublime’ – although ‘the sublime’ does not mean
only this.

There are many more Gothic themes and ideas in the book that are not listed here. For
instance, both Frankenstein and the monster exhibit characteristics of each of two of the
three classic Gothic types of Villain-hero – the satanic hero, the Byronic and the
Promethean – which was invented by Shelley herself. The Satanic is the hero who
commits evil deeds - but believes he or she has justification. It is these justifications
which make the character interesting. Frankenstein’s evil is the creation of the monster –
his justification is the pursuit of knowledge. The monster is a killer, and justifies his
murders by citing his rejection and abuse at the hands of Man as the reason.
The Byronic hero-villain is ‘aristocratic, suave, moody...solitary, secretive, brilliant,
cynical...and nursing a secret wound’.
All of these traits apply to Frankenstein, whom Walton described as ‘...so gentle, yet so
wise; his mind is so cultivated; and when he speaks, although his words are culled with
the choicest art, yet they flow with rapidity and unparalleled excellence.’
The monster is neither suave nor aristocratic, yet his extraordinary intelligence
compensates for this.
Surprisingly, neither the monster nor Frankenstein exhibit qualities of the Promethean
hero, the third classically Gothic hero-villain – which was created by Mary Shelley in
Frankenstein. The promethean hero is one who benefits mankind, but only by performing
a rebellious or immoral act. Frankenstein intends to benefit mankind – but in fact releases
a monster upon it. The monster also tries to benefit mankind, by helping the De Lacys
and saving the girl from drowning– but his extremely sensitive nature leads him to go on
a killing spree after his rejection.

There is also the idea of Satanic manipulation. It could be that Frankenstein’s ‘guiding
female spirit’ is in fact one of the forms of Satan, which ‘appeals to potentially noble
human qualities (e.g. the thirst for knowledge) but twists those qualities in a way that
parallels his own alienation from God.’2

So, having established that Frankenstein lies firmly within the Gothic genre, we must
now investigate why it deserves to be placed ‘beyond such narrow classification’.

Perhaps the principal reason for Frankenstein’s continuing relevance is the fact that in
many ways it differs from the stereotypical gothic fable. The original gothic horror stories
were essentially thrillers – readers were excited by the feelings if fear they incited and by
the exotic storyline. However, Frankenstein is much more profound than this – it is
principally a novel of ideas, an exploration of man’s potential for self-destruction, the
potential evils of science and the consequences of ‘playing God’.

Frankenstein is psychologically a very complex novel, which describes in detail the


turbulent feelings of two very complex characters.

Firstly, Frankenstein himself. Frankenstein seems rather cold emotionally, regarding grief
– after a certain period of time ‘an indulgence rather than a necessity’, and continuing
with his plans to attend university shortly after his mother’s death. Here, his obsessive
nature shines through and he commits himself entirely to his studies for two years, and
then for another two years upon the creation of the monster. His logic is very cold and
rational; he does not regard cemeteries as sacred ground, and does not recognise a
corpse’s right to lie undisturbed. Though when telling the story to Walton, he claims that
his human nature often ‘recoiled’ as he built the monster from bits of dead body, it is
clear that at the time he had no such qualms.
His decision to build a man ‘of giant stature’ also shows him to be emotionally barren in
many ways; there is cold logic behind the decision: making a normal sized man would be
more difficult as the components parts would be smaller and more intricate. Frankenstein
seems very closed off from other people – perhaps he had a mild form of Asperger’s –
and it seems that he internalises an emotion he feels, makes it about himself. Instead of
mourning his brother and feeling loss, he mourns that he ‘was destined to become the
most wretched of all human beings. Alas! I prophesied truly, and failed only in one single
circumstance, that in all the misery I imagined and dreaded, I did not conceive the
hundredth part of the anguish I was destined to endure’
When Justine is sentenced to death, instead of telling the court what he has done, what
the monster is, Frankenstein prefers to dwell on his own emotion – ‘The poor victim, who
on the morrow was to pass the awful boundary between life and death, felt not as I did,
such deep and bitter agony.’ This selfishness and lack of empathy is almost childlike, just
as Frankenstein’s reluctance to accept responsibility for his actions – preferring instead to
blame it on some personification of Destiny – is also classic childlike behaviour.
However, it does seem that Frankenstein can be roused to strong emotion, but only by the
actions of his creation and his doppelganger. Its awakening and its murder of Clerval
both sent him into nervous breakdown and states of agitated delirium and the murder of
Elizabeth sent him into a faint. Ultimately, they lead him to die.

The monster is more psychologically complex still. Firstly, there is the doubly
paradoxical nature of his existence; firstly that every individual part of him is dead – he is
entirely composed of dead tissue – yet the whole is alive. Secondly, the monster is made
up of parts of countless different people, and as a result, has no true self, has no self to
reflect on. However, the monster is a new being, potentially the first of a new species, so
in some ways is more unique and has more of a ‘self’ than any human since Adam and
Eve. In this way, the monster is nobody, everybody and somebody simultaneously. He
cannot reflect on who or what he is, but he is a thinking being, with his own personality –
but it is unclear whether his personality is entirely his own or an amalgamation of several
different personalities.
There is also the monster’s extreme intelligence. The monster possesses both the naivety
and impressionability of a child’s mind and the sophistication of an adult’s, which
combines to allow the potential for near-infinite intelligence. It means that the monster
can understand anything; both at a childlike, instinctive level, and at an intellectual,
sophisticated level. Therefore, the monster is highly receptive to whatever he is exposed
to, and when exposed to Paradise Lost, the monster’s intelligence enables him to
recognize elements of Adam and of Lucifer in himself; Adam from his innocence,
intelligence and his curious indignation with his creator (‘Did I request thee, Maker, from
thy clay To mould me man ?’), and Lucifer from his rejection by his Creator. Thus, with
his impressionability, having identified himself with Lucifer, he emulates him, and sets
himself against Frankenstein to seek revenge for Frankenstein’s rejection of him. The
monster was born benevolent, but amoral – morals are taught by society – and he learned
his morals from Frankenstein – who rejected and despised him, the De Lacys – who
shunned him, and the man in the wood, who shot him. It is no wonder he became evil.

Another important aspect of the book is its feminist sympathies. It could be said that
Frankenstein is a cautionary tale, to try to impress upon the men of the time what effect
their experiments and quests and ideas have on the women who have to suffer as a result.
Walton leaves his betrothed to go questing for the North Pole, Frankenstein leaves
Elizabeth to mourn alone so that he may attend university.
Later, when Frankenstein creates his monster – and in doing so usurps the role of a
woman as the giver of life and tramples on the laws of nature to satisfy his own ego – it is
the women who suffer as a result. Walton and Frankenstein are single-minded in their
aims – they do not make concession to others which might slow them. By contrast all the
women in the story possess profound moral fibre; they are calm, generous – selfless, even
– and kind. They are the ones who suffer as a result of the grand dreams of men.
Frankenstein’s mother gives her life to save Elizabeth, but Frankenstein allows his
friends, family and betrothed to die rather than give up his own life – or even to go
against his dubious moral scruples. Even the Scottish woman who believes Frankenstein
to be a murderer willingly nurses him to health – where Frankenstein is reluctant even to
speak to the monster who murdered his brother.

Another feminist aspect of the book in Frankenstein’s failure to love his creation. A
mother will normally love her child despite what it looks like, despite what it does – but
when a man tries to have a child, he cannot tap into the reservoir of maternal love that a
mother feels for her child.

The book also has universal themes about the respective roles of man and God. That is,
only God has the right or power to create life, and only woman has the power to
propagate it. If man tries to play God, to create life, or to seize the woman’s role in
propagating it – the result will be a hideous abomination. This would have been
especially relevant at the time, because at that time it was believed to be within the
realms of possibility to do what Frankenstein did.

Which brings me on to Frankenstein as a possible criticism of the New Science that was
so in vogue in the 18th century. At the time, there were no ethical limits on scientific
experimentation, and in many ways this novel is a call for just that – for man to temper
his dangerous experiments with morality. It is also an exploration on the origins of life,
the ‘spark of life’, which at the time was believed to be electrical in nature. This idea
means that Frankenstein is believed to be the first science-fiction novel – despite the fact
that it does not mention any scientific process which could re-animate a corpse.

This scientific aspect of Frankenstein is especially important today, and all the ethical
issues of what man has a right to do with nature and what constitutes ‘playing God’ are
more significant today than at any other time in history. In this age of genetic
engineering, in vitro fertilisation, organ transplants from dead people, stem cell research,
designer babies, limb transplants, even, the ideas and morals explored in Frankenstein are
just as relevant today as when Frankenstein was first published – at a time when making a
monster seemed just as plausible as it does today. Indeed, if the problem of tissue
rejection were to be solved (and scientists are getting closer all the time) then a creation
like Frankenstein’s could be made tomorrow.

Finally, there is its cultural importance. Made famous, but never correctly portrayed, by
film, Frankenstein is a significant part of our culture. It has never been correctly
portrayed because Frankenstein is essentially a novel of ideas – which do not transfer
well to film. So the action and the dialogue were exaggerated in order to transfer the story
to film, but in that process much of the essence is lost, resulting in the films being much
more about the monster than the man. This means that, although the basic story is
famous, the actual content of the book remains much less well-known. Such is the
dominance in the films by the monster that surprisingly few people know that
Frankenstein is not the monster, but the man. However, the monster, like the Vampire, is
now a permanent fixture of Hallowe’en, which, in a way, is a credit to any Gothic
monster.
But what does gothic mean nowadays? What are modern gothic values and do they bear
any relation to the gothic ideas of Shelley’s time?
In many ways, they do. Gothic heroines would often be pale and sickly-looking; modern-
day female Goths also strive to achieve this look by applying thick white make-up. Many
modern-day Goths seek to emulate Gothic monsters – usually vampires, but they are
often reminiscent of spectres and ghosts. Also, the Byronic hero embodies another
modern-day Goth ideal; intense, moody, powerful, and with a very open and wide-
ranging sexuality, being both homosexual and heterosexual.
The Gothic subculture is very much dependent on the gothic music scene, which in turn
draws much of its inspiration from Gothic novels and the films based on those novels.
Like the novels, the Gothic subculture is essentially apolitical – bar advocacy of freedom
of speech and dress and a tendency towards left-wing liberalism. However, whilst gothic
novels tended to have a slight anti-catholic slant, modern day Goths wear Catholic icons
– crucifixes and ankhs.
Like the Gothic novels, Goth subculture is very much fascinated by the macabre and the
morbid – with members often wearing entirely black outfits – and the Gothic sub-culture
also has a firm base in morbid gothic poetry.
Essentially the main difference between Shelley’s Gothic and today’s is that, in Shelley’s
time, Gothic was an architectural and a literary term – nothing more, whereas nowadays
it stands for an entire social group who like the Gothic aesthetic (Victorian or Elizabethan
dresses, black leather clothing etc.) and have a shared fascination with the macabre and
supernatural.

So, to conclude, I think it is clear that although Frankenstein is very much a Gothic
novel, its achievements, its insights on the nature of man’s place in the world, its complex
psychology and ideas, its extension of the ideas presented in Paradise Lost, the dangers
of overreaching ethical scientific boundaries, its feminist themes and its cultural
importance, place it far beyond such narrow classification as ‘a Gothic novel’.
Sources
1. http://www.victorianweb.org/previctorian/mshelley/pva229.html
2. http://personal.georgiasouthern.edu/~dougt/goth.html