Essay on From Novel to Silver Screen: Mary Shelley's "Frankenstein"

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"All men possess by nature a craving for knowledge."

--Aristotle, <i>Metaphysics</i> (Book 1 Pt.1)

Gothic literature is a genre of writing that plays on man's deepest fears and regrets. From the era of the Gothicism, many genuine classics arose from the ashes of the Neoclassical Period (1660-1785) and the Age of Reason (1750-1800). Novels such as Horace Walpole's <i>The Castle of Otranto</i> (1764), Matthew Lewis's <i>The Monk</i> (1796), Ann Radcliffe's <i>The Italian; or, The Confessional of the Black Penitents</i> (1797), and Charles Maturin's <i>Melmoth the Wanderer</i> (1820) defined the era. Another great story not mentioned above was Mary Shelley's <i>Frankenstein: or, the Modern Prometheus</i>. Having over thirty film
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As Harold Bloom states in Classic Horror Writers, "It was the product of a contest... as to who could write the most frightening tale."

Mary "created in Frankenstein, a compelling story of a man at once sublimely adventurous and dangerously blind, whose... profane ventures into realms considered sacred and forbidden literally destroy his every social bond." (Geary 80) The story follows a man who, in his yearning to find knowledge and the end of suffering, creates a horrific monster not only in flesh, but in him also.

Mary, who had writer's block, describes the vision of the novel in the preface:

"I placed my head on my pillow, I did not sleep, nor could I be said to think. My imagination unbidden, possessed and guided me ... I saw with shut eyes, but acute mental vision, - the pale student of unhallowed arts standing before the thing he had put together, I saw the hideous phantasm of a man stretched out, and then, on the working of some powerful engine, show signs of life and stir with an uneasy, half vital motion . . . frightful must it be; for supremely frightful would be the effect of any human endeavour to mock the stupendous mechanism of the Creator of the world. His success would terrify the artist; he would rush away from his odious handiwork, horror stricken ... He (the

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