Victor Frankenstein relates his narrative ‘marking the dates with accuracy’, determined that his improbable story will be believed. Through examining the time references, this essay reveals the extent to which the novel is preoccupied with realism and temporal accuracy and demonstrates why the time scheme of Frankenstein is a problem for critics. The narrative can be charted via a consistent and extensive system of time references provided by the three narrators. At a point near the end, Shelley is momentarily vague. Previous decisions on how to deal with this difficulty are opened up to scrutiny, and a detailed chronology of the 1831 version is proposed. Readings which have based their arguments for political or biographical significance on embedded numerology are reexamined using the new chronology.
This article examines the effects of early anthropological accounts of other races in producing tropes for monstrosity in the Gothic, such as we see in Frankenstein where the monster, although not of any known race since he is hybridly created from parts of dead bodies, shares features with popular accounts of the racially other, echoes Haitian slave rebellion violence in his responses to ill treatment, and achieves his literacy and independence in the manner of popular slave narratives. Gothic tropes were sometimes employed in anti-slavery narratives such as Uncle Tom‘s Cabin, and many of the descriptions of brutality and terror in realist slave narratives are properly to be considered Gothic (and may in fact borrow from gothic fictional techniques). Slavery itself could be argued to outdo the Gothic in its actuality, as well as serving as a source for gothic fantasy. This provokes a rethinking of the now conventional assumption that Frankenstein‘s acknowledgement of responsibility for his creature implies that it does his unconscious bidding; on the contrary, Frankenstein admits his responsibility as a slaveholder might for the actions of his slave, but without in any way endorsing them.
Critical approaches to Gothic origins usually bear on theme and ideology rather than on textuality. This article argues both that by the side of thematic issues we must carefully examine the forms of Gothic and that, beyond the literary and philosophical, the folk sources of Gothic remain to be acknowledged. Making use of tools familiar to mythographer and folklorist, textual analysis of a passage from the 1831 edition of Mary Shelley‘s Frankenstein reveals this novel is built on the traditional narrative structure of the heroic quest; while Victor‘s tragic destiny is shown to result from a deliberate manipulation of traditional patterns.
As she had done in Frankenstein, Mary Shelley reworked the gothic dopplegänger motif time and again in her short fiction not only to entertain but also to educate her readers. Focusing on four tales written in the late 1820s and early 1830s, this paper considers how Shelley repeatedly set up a triangle of desire in which an intensely competitive and destructive relationship between men is mitigated or resolved by a female character. A close look at these tales contributes to our understanding of the extent to which Mary Shelley devoted herself to remodelling Gothic modes. More importantly, these tales demonstrate the degree to which her ‘New Gothic’ was intended to contribute to a reconfiguration of traditional gender roles and a revaluation of the domestic affections, particularly in terms of their relevance to the political arena.
This essay examines the Gothic trope of monstrosity in a range of literary and historical works, from writings on the French Revolution to Mary Shelleys Frankenstein to Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. I argue that, in the various versions of the Frankenstein myth, what has ultimately come to seem most monstrous is the uncanny coupling of literary and political discourse. Beginning with Jacobin and anti-Jacobin discourse, this essay traces the tendency of literary tropes to turn into political tropes. In Frankenstein and in the Victorian rewritings of Shelley‘s novel, the trope of monstrosity functions, with remarkable consistency, as a mechanism which enables the unstable and often revolutionary turns between aesthetic and ideological discourse. Because the trope of monstrosity at the heart of Frankenstein exists on the border between literary and political discourse that trope has emerged as one of the most crucial forces in current critical theoretical debates about the relationship between aesthetics and ideology.
This article argues that the allegorical interpretations of the Gothic sublime made by materialist critics like Franco Moretti and Judith Halberstam unavoidably reduce Gothic excess and uncanniness to a realist understanding and, thereby, ironically de-materialize Gothic monstrosity by substituting for it a realistic meaning. This essay, instead, advocates a psychoanalytic critical reception that demonstrates how the essential uncanniness of the Gothic novel makes all realistic interpretation falter. Rather than interpreting Frankensteins creature as a condensed figure for proletarian formation or Dracula as an allegory for xenophobia, for instance, this article insists that the Gothic uncanny should be understood as figuring that which can only be viewed figuratively, as figuring that which has no space within a realistic understanding.
The essay looks at the public vilification of the sodomites exposed in the Vere Street scandal in the early nineteenth‐century and suggests a connection between these acts of violence and the violence that occurs in Gothic fiction of the same period.
In this essay I argue that Frankenstein‘s monster, as a being constructed, in part, from nonhuman animal remains obtained from slaughterhouses, is literally a bizarre by-product of meat-eating. Frankensteins monster is a ‘monster’ because he is meat that was not consumed and brought back to life. What was intended for the human table comes to life and threatens the social order. The fact that the monster is a vegetarian thus becomes essential for an understanding of Shelley‘s novel. The Gothic narrative of Frankenstein is not one of a supernatural nature; rather the Gothic narrative within the text is the one that confronts the seemingly natural system of carnivorism.
This article uses Franco Moretti‘s interpretation of Frankenstein and Dracula (Signs Taken For Wonders, 1988) to interrogate Dennis Potter‘s final television play, Cold Lazarus (1996). The critical approach, following Moretti‘s example, is generic, Freudian and Marxist. By identifying the conventions of Gothic drama in Potter‘s play, it claims, firstly, that Cold Lazarus dramatizes deep-seated psychic neuroses; and secondly, alerts its viewers to contemporary cultural anxieties about individual autonomy and the exploitative nature of capitalist enterprise. The argument challenges the predominantly negative reception of Cold Lazarus when first screened in 1994 and aims to defend this play as a fine example of televisual Gothic drama.
This article considers a unified polar Gothic as a way of examining texts set in Arctic and Antarctic space. Through analysis of Coleridge‘s The Rime of the Ancient Mariner, Shelleys Frankenstein, and Poe‘s The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym of Nantucket , the author creates a framework for understanding polar Gothic, which includes liminal space, the supernatural, the Gothic sublime, ghosts and apparitions, and imperial Gothic anxieties about the degradation of civilisation. Analysing Verne‘s scientific-adventure novel The Adventures of Captain Hatteras (1866) with this framework, the author contextualises the continued public interest in the lost Franklin expedition and reflects on nineteenth-century polar Gothic anxieties in the present day. Polar space creates an uncanny potential for seeing ones own self and examining what lies beneath the surface of ones own rational mind.