On the occasion of Frankenstein Day, let’s look into the life of acclaimed author Mary Shelley and her widely celebrated work ‘Frankenstein’.

Born on 30th August 1797, Mary Shelley isn’t a name unknown to the literature enthusiasts. At a young age of 18, she made a mark for herself amongst the literary greats with her widely celebrated horror novel Frankenstein.

Her novel, born out of a friendly discussion and instigation by Lord Byron, earned her the title of “mother of horror stories”. With no prior writing experience, she displayed an exemplary display of her skills with Frankenstein, and reflected the literary genes she accrued from her parents- political writer William Godwin and famed feminist Mary Wollstonecraft.

30th August marks itself as ‘Frankenstein Day’ to honour and celebrate this literary gem and her masterpiece.

Touching upon the themes of incessant quest for dangerous knowledge, ambition, and monstrosity, Frankenstein, published in 1818 is a masterpiece, remarkable in every aspect of its being.

Victor Frankenstein, a scientist with his quench for forbidden knowledge discovers how to create a living being out of inanimate dead beings. Putting his research into practice, Victor creates a living monster which he abandons at its very first glimpse, filled with hate and disgust for his creation.

Little did Victor know that in the process of creation of the monster, he is writing his and his family’s doom.

What provokes the reader’s thoughts is the diminishing line between the monster and Victor with the question of what it is to be a monster, which underplays in the text. How human is the monster and how monstrous is Victor becomes the theme which prevents the novel from becoming a flat-read of black and white characters.

The novel masterfully puts forth the perspective of the monster, and the sense of alienation and loneliness which engulfed him after his creator Victor abandoned him. As Victor goes on to continually defend his actions, Mary ultimately questions his ambitions and, cryptically, holds him responsible for all the suffering he and his family undergo.

Frankenstein is filled with suffering, death, and sadness and many critics find it to be a reflection of Mary’s own life filled with suffering. She lost her mother when she was barely ten days old, eloped with and married Percy Shelley when she was 16, and she lost him a few years later and three of her four children before they even touched the age of three.

Thus, her life filled with tragedy is reflected in her most famous work.

This novel laid the foundation for all the coming science fiction and horror novels and earned itself a classic position. With pertinent themes and intriguing narration, Frankenstein becomes a poignant read.

It’s not every other novel that has a special day to its name. So, cosy up in your beds this rainy weekend with a cup of coffee in one hand and Frankenstein in another.


Frankenstein by Mary Shelley is a part of English Honours’ fourth-semester syllabus.

Feature Image Credits: Looking-glass Theatre Company


Shreya Agrawal

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“Words have no power to impress the mind without the exquisite horror of their reality” – Edgar Allan Poe

Edgar Allan Poe is renowned for introducing the world to detective fiction as we know it and his unmatched gothic tales which are chock-full of morbidity and macabre elements. He saw strangeness and horror in things that were common place, through his words he weaved horror that not only rattled the soul but also captured the imagination of his audience.

The 19th century America was plagued with high mortality rate where children died in infancy, women rarely survived childbirth and the general atmosphere was filled with despondency. This proved a solid ground for Poe’s morbid tales to take root and thrive. His words brought the elements of violence, cruelty, madness, horror and existential dread alive in the heart of his readers and they could relate it with their surrounding which was at that time pervaded with feeling of grief and loss.

He derived inspiration heavily from his life which saw tragedies early on, with death of his mother during childbirth, death of his foster mother and death of his young wife Virginia. His work derived from this despair of his childhood and combined shock seamlessly with horror pulling the reader into his world of melancholy.

The Gothic tales of that time were becoming cliched with their repetitive content which involved dark castles and haunting secrets and in that environment Poe’s macabre tales emphasized on the strangeness of human psyche. He made his horror realistic by using the very whimsical and complex nature of psychology and tried to rationalize it through the medium of science.

In Premature Burial, Poe pens down the very real fear amongst the public about being buried alive which was a common occurrence at that time. He takes his dark romantic vision to another level with works like Berenice which has a level of psychological depravity that can give you goosebumps. In my personal favorite, The Masque Of The Red death, Poe personifies the plague like death itself which comes down on Prince Prospero and his horde of nobles with a vengeance. With the splendor of abbey, general sense of foreboding and the inevitability of death he draws a compelling horrific narrative.

Poe would construct the beginning in such a manner that it brought the feeling of apprehension upon the readers, cue this beginning from The Tell-tale Heart, “True! –nervous –very, very dreadfully nervous I had been and am; but why will you say that I am mad? The disease had sharpened my senses –not destroyed –not dulled them. Above all was the sense of hearing acute. I heard all things in the heaven and in the earth. I heard many things in hell. How, then, am I mad?”

While his literary career was full of ups and down and death brought his turbulent life to an end, his stories paved way for rational horror stories and now he is immortalized in his works, forevermore!

Image credits : Pinterest

Antriksha Pathania
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