In 1818, Mary Shelley wrote and published her first novel, “Frankenstein”. Mary Shelley compares the monster’s suffering and pain to the beginning of industrialization. Shelley’s monster is a metaphor for science, as the monster brings destruction and fear in society so industrialization and modern science will ruin mankind’s future.
“Frankenstein” is considered a gothic novel, but it differs from the gothic tradition, for example it is not set in a dark castle, and it doesn’t deal with supernatural events. The main features in gothic novels is terror and horror, night that creates an atmosphere of oppression and mystery, a complex plot, ancient settings and the presence of supernatural beings, excluded in this novel.
Victor Frankenstein, a scientist manages to create a human being from corpses, and is able to give life by using electricity. The message given, is that man wants power over nature and man, because he wants to be like a God. Prometheus is a simile of this, a mythical hero who stole fire from the gods, to give as a gift to man, and for this, Zeus punishes him, by chaining him to a rock. For this “Frankenstein” is also known like “the modern Prometheus”.
Mary Shelley had a good knowledge of modern science, and knew a lot about the scientific experiments of the day on electricity made by Galvani and Aldini, whose experiments were dedicated to the movements of the muscles in the limbs of frogs by injecting them with electricity. This helped Mary create this novel, “Frankenstein”. This story is important because science in the 19th century was known only by the upper classes; this story opened the doors to the lower classes, proposing the idea of resurrection.
Victor, in the story, symbolizes how his excessive urge, his superego to create life will ultimately ruin him, indeed he spends the rest of his life to destroy what he created. Victor represents the Id, the part of the psyche that is governed by the instinctive impulses of sex, or aggression. The monster represents the conscience created by Victor, the Ego of Victor’s personality.