ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Why Does Mary Shelley’s Monster Still Haunt Us?

What is it that perpetuates Frankenstein’s undiminished fascination and abiding relevance on the bicentenary of its publication?

Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein is considered to be one of the most popular novels written in the English language. Since it first appeared in 1818, the novel has gradually become a part of modern folklore and found a place among literary classics. Today, Frankenstein’s relevance is more than just about being a parable on the hubris and arrogance of a young scientist. The relevance or the appeal of a literary work depends not only on how insightfully it depicts the contemporary, but also on how successfully it transcends the contemporary, the boundaries of time and space. Frankenstein is certainly one such text that continues to captivate readers even 200 years after its publication.

It all started with a storytelling competition one gloomy evening in June 1816 at Villa Diodati, on the banks of Lake Geneva. Mary, with the poet Percy Bysshe Shelley—her would-be husband—and his other friends gathered that evening as the poet Lord Byron suggested that everyone write a ghost story. She struggled to imagine anything that would be ghostly enough to “curdle the blood or quicken the heartbeat of her readers.” One night, with her eyes closed, she saw an acute vision that gradually became a tale of immortality and death. In her vision, she saw a young scientist named Victor Frankenstein (the monster was nameless) infusing life to a dishevelled creature made of corpses. The repulsive and disproportionate design made the ambitious scientist realise that he “gave birth” to a monster. He immediately abandoned his creation with great disgust. What followed was a relentless battle—both moral and physical— between the creation and his creator, a duel between a father and a son without a mother.

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Updated On : 17th Dec, 2018

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