Frankenstein is Marry Shelly’s masterpiece, which was published in 1818. It immediately became very popular.
Frankenstein is a bright example of Gothic fiction. “In Gothic fiction the reader passes from the reasoned order of the everyday world into a dark region governed by supernatural beings, a region that inspires dread and horror, where decay abounds and death is always at hand”ť (Botting, 196).
The main themes of this story are the possession of secret knowledge, monstrosity and secrecy and dominance of science over humanity. Victor Frankenstein seeks for a secret of life and all in all obtains dangerous knowledge about it. “One of the phenomena which had peculiarly attracted my attention was the structure of the human frame, and, indeed, any animal endued with life”ť (Shelly, 46). Possessing such knowledge presumes great danger and responsibility and soon we see that Victor is not able to be responsible for his actions. Science dominates over human beings, the scientific discoveries are so significant that people are not able to control their own products of science and monster created by Frankenstein is a bright example of this phenomenon. He is afraid of the monster that he had created. “With an anxiety that almost amounted to agony, I collected the instruments of life around me, that I might infuse a spark of being into the lifeless thing that lay at my feet”ť (Shelly, 60). He does not know how to deal with it. Victor did not care about the results of his experience, he even did not think about them before. He starts realizing his responsibility and guilt only after a chain of murders.
The second theme is secrecy. From the early childhood he is interested in everything secret: “My temper was sometimes violent, and my passions vehement; but by some law in my temperature they were turned, not towards childish pursuits, but to an eager desire to learn, and not to learn all things indiscriminately”ť (Shelly, 123).
Frankenstein’s behavior and thoughts are secret for other people. At first he creates his monster in secret. After a number of murders that take place he does not tell the policy or other people about this monster, he keeps its existence in secret. He discovers the secret that has been hidden from other people for centuries: “I became dizzy with the immensity of the prospect which it illustrated, I was surprised, that among so many men of genius who had directed their inquiries towards the same science, that I alone should be reserved to discover so astonishing a secret”ť (Shelly, 43). Victor is frightened by the accidents that happen around him. He tries to cope with them alone but at the end of the story we understand that his efforts are useless.
In the center of the story lies the image of a monster, so the theme of monstrosity come as a red line through the whole story. Victor uses stolen body parts and different chemicals creating his monster. “I collected bones from charnel houses; and disturbed, with profane fingers, the tremendous secrets of the human frame”ť (Shelly, 57). From the very beginning this monster is unnatural and it is obvious that it will not act as a human being. In Frankenstein Merry Shelly unites elements of psychology and elements of horror story and this makes her work so popular.
Science becomes the leading force of the humanity but people working on scientific discoveries often can not predict consequences of them and are not able to control them.