Mary Shelley was influenced by other Gothic writers and novelists such as Horace Walpole’s ‘the Castle of Otranto’ and Matthew Gregory Lewis’s ‘The Monk’. These novels and the story of Frankenstein are full of gothic features, it contains atmospheres of gloom and horror, suspense and strong states of emotion. Frankenstein is based on Frankenstein’s over enthusiastic search of knowledge in how to create life, while at the same time, the monster he creates suffers in isolation and loneliness due to him being misunderstood because of his appearance.
Mary Shelley was raised by her father after her mother died in childbirth and as a result spent time in the company of some of the greatest thinkers of that time. She was well educated and had a good understanding of the literary works from poetry to romantic novels and tragedies. These stories probably influenced Shelley in her writing. She was probably also influenced by Greek mythology and stories such as Icarus and Prometheus. The protagonists in these storied suffer because they have an overreaching search for knowledge just like victor.
In the story Shelley uses three narrators so that we can understand and relate to the feelings of each of the main characters. Without this, it would not be possible for us to see the story from different sides or perspectives of each person. We would perhaps only see the monster as a cruel murderer and not as a lonely or vulnerable victim as he was created, but not taught about life.
When Shelley writes the story, she starts by telling the story through Captain Walton as the narrator, to introduce us and make us curios. Next, Victor Frankenstein tells the story. Then we hear the story from the viewpoint of the Monster. She continues to change the narrator throughout the story. In this way, our sympathies change. The monsters narration comes in the middle of the novel. Perhaps because he is at the centre of the story and events revolve around him.
The way that Shelley has created the story means that each of the narrators gives their own account, from their own view point and with the information that they have. All of the narrators are so involved in the events. By hearing all three narrators, the reader is allowed to decide who is to blame for the tragedies that occur.
In the beginning of the novel, Shelley tells the story through Captain Walton. The story is told through the letters he writes to Margaret, his sister. Shelley was possibly influenced to write in this style through other books written in this epistolary such as “Pamela” by Samuel Richardson. Walton becomes fond of Frankenstein over a short space of time and writes ‘’For my own part, I begin to love him as a brother, and his constant and deep grief fills me with sympathy and compassion.’
Shelley then goes on to tell the story through Frankenstein who describes the process through which he devises the idea that he can create life through studying death. It then becomes his obsession. He studies dead bodies and performs experiments, forgetting the sanctity of life in his search for a way to create life. He studies the dead and at times, even dislikes himself and questions what he is doing, but finds that he can’t stop. ‘Often did my human nature turn with loathing from my occupation, whilst, still urged on by an eagerness which perpetually increased.’
He wants to create life, and most would agree that the creation of life should be a beautiful thing. However, Frankenstein may be able to create life, but does not have the skill or knowledge to make it beautiful. He realises what he has done and that it is wrong. ‘But now that I had finished, the beauty of the dream vanished, and breathless horror and disgust filled my heart. Unable to endure the aspect of the being I had created I rushed out of the room.’ If the story was a fairy tale, the ugly monster he created would make friends, and all would have a happy ending,