Frankenstein, the Modern Critical Horror Novel
An essay at the Times Literary Supplement adds context to Frankenstein:
As the editors note, Shelley’s contemporaries would have associated the monster’s terror with the Terror of the French Revolution. Conservatives likened the Revolution to a monster created by Enlightenment rationalism, whereas radicals perceived it as a justified response to a monstrous ancien régime. The novel raised questions about social justice and reciprocal obligations in a modern, secular age, in the process also condemning slavery. In addition, Shelley criticized gender relations, just as her mother had done in A Vindication of the Rights of Women (1792). Frankenstein’s creation of life was not simply an act of scientific hubris, but an exposé of patriarchy. By arrogating the creation of life solely to himself, Frankenstein’s deed of giving birth results in the death of everyone he loved, culminating in his own mortal struggle with his creation in the sterile frigidity of the Arctic.
First published May 21, 2013