The Gothic Image and the Quandaries of Science in Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein

  • Jerrold E. Hogle
Part of the Studies in Global Science Fiction book series (SGSF)


Rather than phasing out the Gothic to begin creating science fiction, Mary Shelley’s original 1818 novel adopts the major features of the Gothic image (of spectres, ruins, etc.) as it was created by Horace Walpole in The Castle of Otranto (1764–65) and as it was slightly modified by Gothic texts read by the Byron-Shelley circle at the Villa Diodati during the Summer of 1816. The Gothic image is fundamentally torn between backward-looking and forward-tending belief-systems and is thus an apt symbolic site for harbouring unresolved ideological conflicts that haunt the emergence of modernity. That Janus-faced quality makes such an image ideal, especially as rendered by Frankenstein’s creature, for figuring forth, while also disguising, the many contestations that troubled the sciences of the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries.

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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jerrold E. Hogle
    • 1
  1. 1.University of ArizonaTucsonUSA

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