Frankenstein: A Diagnostic Essay
Mary Shelleys Frankenstein is a novel about a failed artificial life experiment that has produced a monster. The Preface tells us the background of the authors life and also gives information as to how this novel came to be. Mary Shelley was only eighteen when she created the story and began to write it, and not even twenty years old by the time it was complete. Her parents were both famous writers, but she never had the chance to know her own mother because she died from complications of childbirth. Her father eventually remarried and she grew up in a chaotic family that also included a half-sister, a stepbrother, and a stepsister. By the age of sixteen, she fled her chaotic household accompanied by her sister and ran away to Europe with a married man. She became pregnant and gave birth prematurely to a child that died within days; she gave birth to a second child and then began writing Frankenstein; sadly, her second born also died soon after the book was published. The entire idea behind the novel began when she was challenged by a group of writers to create a horror story. She thought about a possible storyline and soon dreamt about a scientist who created life and became horrified by what he made- this is how Frankenstein came about.
Volume I begins as a series of letters written by Captain Robert Walton to his beloved sister, Margaret. Walton embarks on a journey to explore the North Pole in hopes of expanding his knowledge while gaining friendship and achieving fame. One of the recurring motifs that I noticed in the novel was Waltons affection towards his sister. He writes to her frequently and speaks of how much he misses her. Another motif I noticed was loneliness. Walton is on a search for friendship and yearns to have someone he can talk to and share his deepest feelings with. In the novel, the ship becomes trapped in ice and the entire crew witnesses a strange giant man on a dog sled in the distance. This strange figure eventually disappears and hours later, they come across an emaciated man in a dog sled with only one dog (the others have died) who tells them he was in pursuit of the gigantic man. Walton invites him on the boat and he begins telling his story.
From what I read so far, I think the motifs I mentioned earlier will keep reoccurring throughout the novel. I also think the novel will be tied in somehow to Mary Shelleys life, especially since she had such a troubled childhood.