Tag Archives: Books

Gothic Conventions Used in Frankenstein: Volume one

In my English course we specifically must focus on three schools of thought whilst constructing an essay: Marxist, psychoanalysis and feminist readings. I’ve nearly always grasped the concepts of psychoanalyst with novels such as ‘The Kite Runner’, with ‘Death of a Salesman’ I studied Marxist readings and with ‘King Lear’ and ‘The Great Gatsby’ I combined the two elements, only really dabbling my hand in the feminist school of thought. But none the less, this year, it being presumably my last as an English student, I’ve decided to get off my stubborn backside and write this set essay on ‘Frankensteins gothic conventions’ with the view of a feminine light. At first, admittedly I was weary, however, I’ve interlinked the views of feminist critics with other interpretations involving sexuality and fate. Frankenstein is a very interesting novel to search upon if reading into the role of woman in novels. I even found myself enjoying writing this little dissertation, this essay is only brief, there was no formal examination so I spent less time on it as I would normally, but nevertheless I am pleased with roping down from my high horse to ponder upon another view-point. You never know, i might just do some more feminist readings. Enjoy!

Frankenstein is often portrayed and glamourized by critics as the ‘ultimate gothic novel’ however; we must delve into Shelly’s exact use of gothic conventions in order to understand exactly how Shelly utilizes simple gothic motifs to create a world so tantalizing and elusive.

Such use of gothic conventions are used during the creation of the monster, it is through this, that Victor erodes the role of woman in society; he has broken down social barriers and fails to see the implications of the consequences, he flees from the monstrosity he has created and attempts to suppress the blame from himself by citing that the monsters birth was from ‘a workshop of filthy creation’ this quote is a direct allusion to the woman’s womb. Victor is subtly mocking woman’s place in society as beneath a man by branding their internal organs as ‘dirty.’ Victor tries to usurp the role of Woman in the novel;Feminist literary theory would claim that Frankenstein’s act of creation is not only a sin against God and the force of nature. It is also an act against the “female principle”, which includes natural procreation as one of its central aspects and as a result, The Monster then seeks to destroy womankind as a vengeance against woman principles as Victor has deprived woman of their natural function in society.Mary Shelly’s mother was a founder of the feminist movement, a liberal thinker with forceful philosophy who no doubt influenced this rational and predominant theme within the novel. Instantly, this recalls the much broader implications of the human condition and the relationship between man and God. The relationship between Victor and the monster raises many questions as to the meaning of humanity and existence. In his corrupting pursuit for the ‘thirst of knowledge’ Victor Frankenstein is frequently compared to Prometheus, as the novel’s subtitle “The Modern Prometheus” suggests. Prometheus stole fire from the Gods whereas in a bid to create the monster, Victor harnessed the power of electricity and became ‘beheld’ by a ‘most violent and terrible thunderstorm’ it is Frankenstein’s most terrific mistake in presuming that he could displace God, Victor tries not only to find the secret of life but also to remove life’s defects by rebelling against natures natural order and selection. But it is unlike God, that Victor fails to nurture the one thing that he produced. The ‘secret toils’ that he endured suggest that he has been the victim of a shameful ploy. It is by this, that the novel can be viewed as a mock of religion, it is fact his rash, impatient and stubborn desire to create life that the horrible physiognomy of the Monster is a direct result of Frankenstein’s hurry and anxiety caused by his awareness of committing a sin against God. Victor then tries to surpass the blame upon destiny as he describes it as ‘too potent’ Victor’s futile plead is attempting to convince us that destiny is predetermined, and fate is premeditated and that there might be a higher power after all, men are corrupted by the preconditioned aspects of the world, and free will is only a limited scope and far limits Victors scientific desires. It is Victor’s fixated desire only to rid of the ‘distant species’ that he regards as woman who implies he fears also his own sexuality.

As Victor describes the ‘dreary night of November that I beheld the accomplishment of my toils’ it is the pivotal moment of horror as Victor arrives at a climax of his anguished trepidation. Pathetic fallacy is then used to set an appropriate bleak and depressing atmosphere as the ‘dismal rain’ bellows down from above. Victor envisions his mother’s dead corpse. He has an unwillingness to embrace his mother or the face of Elizabeth that he first thought he sought. This could be a deliberate link back to when Victor describes Elizabeth as his ‘more than sister’ and this reveals his fear of incestuous desire, however, by juxtaposing the creating of the monster with this most terrific vision, the void between illusion and reality is opened up as it is blurred in Victors mind, and we can start to trace his descent into madness and deliberate isolation. By creating the monster Victor has destroyed female persona, as previously discussed, however, it is as if he has effectively killed his mother, she is nothing more than a rotting corpse. It is also suggestive that he sees sex as destructive and ‘hideous’. This chapter in volume one involves the three elements of sex, death and the monster. They are thus linked in a single image; this dream episode establishes a clear link between Victor’s avoidance of sexuality. Further regards to sexuality can also be found in the isolation of The Monster–he destroys the female creature horrified upon thinking another could tread upon the earth. The frequent motif of fear of sexuality could also be similarly found in Walton who ‘desires the company of a man whose eyes would reply to mine’ Duality is often a gothic convention and a frequent motif in gothic fiction.

The framed narrative used in Frankenstein is a complex structure; it involves embedded narratives of stories upon stories within stories. The narrative first begins through Walton sending letters to his sister, this approach is commonly known as an epistolary style is a novel in which a character (or characters) tells the story through letters. In Frankenstein, Captain Robert Walton writes letters to his sister. Walton sets the frame and the scene of the novel up, he begins to recount about Victor, the narrative is then given wholly to Victor, presumably to increase our understanding of the character and to increase our paths and awe, before Victors catharsis is then given back to Walton as the novel ends on a denouement. Shelley did not insert the letters by chance; they are purposefully added to provide a deeper dimension to the novel. Walton first allows us to channel a way to suspend our disbelief as with him the novel becomes more plausible as there are now two men seemingly hell-bent on a pursuit, Walton to ‘tread a land never before imprinted by the foot of man’ and Victor to ‘make the secrets of heaven and earth known to me’ It is because of this framed narrative structure that the voices, the stories given to us become blurred as to whom is speaking them and we ask ourselves who exactly is recounting their narrative. A deliberate ploy, perhaps used by Shelly, as traditionally gothic ghost tales are orally given and it was the night previous to writing Frankenstein that her and Lord Byron, along with Percy Shelly told such stories in order to ‘make the blood curdle and quicken the beatings of the heart’ The narrative also involves the role of a listener and each narrative allows the reader to carefully consider the narrative of before and draw upon certain aspects of each one before they are drawn and tied together in a single continuum. We can also consider the reliability of the narrator as a whole, their interpretations, specifically Victors, serves for us to look for parallels and echoes within the plot. Therefore, it is important to behold an open mind whilst reading Frankenstein, otherwise self-absorbance is imminent. Its intention as a cautionary tale is applied as Walton, upon hearing Victor’s narrative on the destructiveness of knowledge and power, turns away from his perilous mission to the North Pole and we see Shelly’s gothic conventions all lay out. Victors attempt to eliminate God and the woman race, carried with it implications that he could not fathom, he rebelled against the laws of nature and is therefore condemned, he is, like Prometheus punished for dabbling in the arts of something far beyond what he academic achievements could possibly behold.


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A Brief Update

Hey, all! Sorry, I know it’s been a while but I’ve just been so bogged down with work and adjusting to a new fitness routine that I’ve barely had time to read, let alone write (and then let alone write about reading). But never fear! I am not giving up on this blog or anything of the sort — I just need some time to get my act together and sit down and compose.  I’ve already got 2-3 ideas whirling around for upcoming blog posts, and I’ve already started on one, but I’m just figuring out the right time for it to go live. So sit tight, there will be updates yet to come! And, as I’ve mentioned before, if anyone who follows this blog (or anyone at all, really!) is interested in contributing and writing some pieces for this blog–please feel free to contact me at jamier.iib@gmail.com! Any help is much appreciated and encouraged! It would be for free, but you would be given all credit and can publicize your own blog/site/magazine, etc.!

In the meantime, here’s a list of what I’m currently reading and am planning to read in the near future:

The Brothers Karamazov, Fyodor Dostoyevsky
The Master and Margarita, Mikhail Bulgakov
 Ferdydurke, Witold Gombrowicz
 Portnoy’s Complaint, Philip Roth
Sweet Tooth Volume 1: Out of the Woods, Jeff Lemire
Morning Glories Vol 1: For a Better Future, Nick Spencer

As you can see, I’m looking to keep myself pretty occupied this spring/summer! And there’s more, too. There’s always more books!

So that’s my list…what are you reading now?  (And if you want friends on either Goodreads or Shelfari–feel free to post links!)

Happy Reading, everyone!

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What Are You Reading?

To make up for my slacking on actually posting on here (sorry about that!) I figured I’d open up a little dialogue with all you WordPressers out there. I may have not been writing, but oh, I have been reading. Too much at once, actually (hence the not writing part).

But this post isn’t about me, I want to know what all of YOU out there are reading. Be it classic novel, comic book, political manifesto, tawdry romance novel…absolutely anything! I want to know what everyone’s reading, what everyone thinks about said readings and I want recommended  reading!

What’s on your holiday recommended reading list? Because I think we all know that with the hecticness of the holidays upon all of us, there’s nothing like a good book to curl up with when we just need to chill out.

So share! Comment! Send me an e-mail at jamier.iib@gmail.com! Anything! Just have fun sharing your readings with others in the lit community!

Happy Holidays, everyone!


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Public Domain & Podcasts

Hey, everyone – this is just a quick update. I  recently came across a fantastic website I think everyone should check out. It’s Books Should Be Free, which is a library of free books belonging to the public domain in the format of audio books. I’ve been unable to keep up with my usual amount of reading as of late since I have a full-time job, and I’m sure many people can sympathize. But with booksshouldbefree.com, I have a whole library of public domain books to choose from to listen to while I’m at work!

Readers have the convenient option of downloading the books in three different formats: Audio Book File in .m4b format,  mp3 files for each chapter of the book in one zip file, or a complete download in iTunes under podcasts. All of which are convenient, useful and have a fairly quick download time!

The website is categorized by genre, including humor, fiction, mystery, sci-fi and many more. My only qualm with the site is that I wish the books in each genre themselves would be categorized a bit better; they seem to be organized randomly as opposed to alphabetized by title or author or chronologically listed. It’s a small issue, however, compared to how useful and resourceful the site is.

I’ve been slacking with my updates as of late, but now that I  can enjoy literature while I work, I hope to be able to divulge back into literary criticism and post on here even more. 


So, if you’re strapped for time but still want to enjoy the wonder that is literature – be sure to check out Books Should Be Free. Who says technology has to be the ruination of literature?

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Book to film adaptions, do they really work and are they necessary?

Recently I just watched the film ‘Jane Eyre’ and, although I admit to myself that I did enjoy the film and it did stay true to the novel of the plot, I was somewhat disappointed with how they portrayed Jane in the film. In my mind, Jane was a strong-willed, determined lass whose courage and strong force fueled milled could allow her to achieve anything. I believed the movie somewhat lessened her character and let her appear slightly weaker and more desperate. The film in my opinion, was good, the director of this latest attempt didn’t try to update the film neither give us an education in the previous years hospitality. It is distinctly original in its own right and still manages to capture the raw Bronte passion.
Now, this is just one example of a good film to movie adaptions and I have seen many more previous to this (specifically in my opinion: Pride and Prejudice, Lord of the Flies, Lord of the Rings, Watership Down, the list continues for a while) and this will doubtfully not be the last great adaption. I’m not a movie junkie but I do pay special interest to films when they come adapted fresh from a book and I have compiled a list of adaptions which in my opinion are more than poor attempts of film making and adaptation:

Scarlet Letter (1995 Director Roland Joffe)

A Series of Unfortunate Events (2004 (Director Brad Silberling)

Twilight – (2008 Director Catherine Hardwicke I’m embarrassed to admit I even saw the film, don’t even get me started on the books)

Stardust (2007 Director Matthew Vaughn, actually enjoyable film, but performances from the actors are poor and the book is more rich and darker than what is portrayed)

I am Legend (2007 Director Francis Lawrence)

These are just to name a few, the reasons I have chosen these particular films is because I believe that all of them lack true spirit to the novel, some are updated versions (something you should never do to a timeless classic) and others such as ‘The Scarlet Letter’ (although admitting to being loosely based on the book) is a shocking demise of the beloved novel and has nothing to do with Nathaniel Hawthorne’s tale of lust, betrayal and sin. In ‘I am Legend’ they instead concentrated on over the top CGI effects’ rather than the painful and lonely realization that you’re the last man alive on earth.
In my view, what it takes to make a succesful movie adaption of a timeless book is to stay true to the characters, stay loyal to the plot and its themes as well as making them clear in the film. Add a touch of originality instead but don’t try to rewrite the novel. Allow characters the morals they had in the books and don’t try to ween them as someone different (a criticism of ‘Jane Eyre’ for me). I’ve yet to find a film, though, that is better than the book and I doubt that I ever, sadly, will find one.
I realize this post is mainly about movies rather than books, but I just feel the need to emphasize my distaste and particularly loathing when some lame arse hot shot Hollywood director decides to take a sleazy shot at directing a film based upon a novel. Half the time the adaptions aren’t at all necessary, just a ploy to earn ‘big money.’ Don’t do it, if you will stain the books legacy and more than that, dissuade readers from actually reading the text if they hadn’t before and definitely don’t attempt if you can’t even stay focused upon the novel itself and spin it all out of context.

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Review: Fine Fine Music by Cassie J. Sneider

Fine Fine Music by Cassie J. Sneider is easily one of the best pieces of contemporary literature I’ve picked up in a long, long time. It’s a collection of short stories based on real events throughout the author’s life. From the seemingly mundane to the totally out there, Sneider captures every moment and detail with such finite precision and humor that the reader is transported into that moment in time, there with Sneider throughout all the trials and tribulations of everyday life.

Never before has an author so perfectly captured those painful moments of awkward adolescence. Maybe I’m biased because so many of her cringe-worthy childhood memories mirror a little too close to my own, but I found myself often having to put the book down and smile or laugh, knowing I wasn’t the only one who had done this or that or felt a certain way.

Every story has a similar structure, and the only way I can describe it is like a good friend telling you about their day, diverging into a seemingly unrelated anecdote that makes your sides hurt from laughing, then bringing  it all together in the end with some form of acknowledgment of a new leaf being turned in life.  Every story ends with a realization – sometimes about the little things and sometimes more on a grand level about life itself. And after every story you can’t help but feel just a little happier with life, a bit inspired and most definitely glad you have read it.

If I wasn’t already taken by the book after the first story, I was sold and in love by the time I reached the part where she opted to stay in and do David Lee Roth leg kicks in her mirror at night instead of going out with friends. (Am I really not the only one who does that?!) Cassie J. Sneider isn’t afraid to admit to all those strange little nuances and embarrassing stories in life we often leave tucked away in our brains, for fear of someone finding out and forcing us to relive them. Anyone who’s willing to do just that – relive those memories – will adore this book. “Coming of age” stories have never been funnier…nor more realistic.

Fine Fine Music is a must have for any young girl who grew up in the 90s (especially in New York), any music fan and enthusiast and mainly, anyone who enjoys a well-written story and a good laugh. Cassie J. Sneider is proving herself as a rock n’ roll force to be reckoned with, and I can’t wait to see what comes next from this bright and fascinating writer.


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Pledge to read the printed word

I’ve not really been affected by the closure of Borders book stores across the country, I honestly can say I’ve only used their book stores not even twice as far as I can remember. It does however, sadden me to know that now the ‘printed word’ is not a solution for most people, with many buying E-readers and other supplements. My grandparents recently asked me if I wanted an E-reader for christmas I was frankly appalled by this. Didn’t they know me well enough? I’d just spent the evening reading instead of conversing in conversation with them. Then they ask me if I wanted them to invest in such a blatant ridicule to books and loyal companions to them. I will always pledge to read the printed word. Always

“We shouldn’t teach great books; we should teach a love of reading.”

—B.F. Skinner

Upon seeing this above quote, my view did change, books should always be in universal existence and I don’t believe that books will ever become a thing of the past, a thing we used to know. There’s no ‘correct way’ to read. Many of you may disagree but we do now live in an age were technology is overpowering and if people still enjoy reading, if people can still feel the authors intent, they can still remember how it feels to feel the chill down the back of your spine when you read. then we should read in whatever format there is available. B.F Skinner was right, we shouldn’t force book down people’s throats, they’ll never appreciate the glorious printed word then. if E-readers, Ipads and any other gadgets still make books available and help the readers learn discipline of literature, the foundations of it and how it can affect your life in the most miniscule way, then I have no problem with E-readers or what not. They’re just not for me.
Forever the printed word.

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