Magill’s Guide to Science Fiction and Fantasy Literature Frankenstein Analysis
Mary Shelley wrote Frankenstein as part of a friendly ghost story writing competition with her husband, Percy Bysshe Shelley, and friend Lord Byron when she was eighteen years old. The novel has prompted many melodramatic takeoffs in film and much critical interest. It is one of the earliest works of science fiction, and the scientific techniques described in it are shadowy at best, yet they represent adequately the scientific knowledge of the time.
The books subtitle links it to the Prometheus myth, popular in the Romantic era. Both Percy Shelley and Lord Byron wrote Promethean poems. Prometheus, a Titan, stole fire from the gods and gave it to humans, allowing them to thrive and create. Frankenstein’s creature was brought to life through the “fire” of lightning. In both cases, the reader must wonder whether the powers given to humankind are blessings or curses. The novel questions what responsibility humankind has in the face of achievements that can have both good and bad results. Frankensteins suffering clearly shows that he realizes too late that he miscalculated the destructive potential of his discovery.
The novel is filled with imagery of light and dark. The creature, brought to life through the power of lightning, is always in the shadows of darkness, and he commits dark deeds.
The Romantic writers with whom Shelley can be connected wrote in part as a revolt against the Enlightenment assumption that...
(The entire section is 402 words.)
Want to Read More?
Subscribe now to read the rest of Frankenstein Critical Essays. Plus get complete access to 30,000+ study guides!