Happy Halloween from the Mills College Writing Center! In honor of this spooky day, let’s look at one of the classic pieces of literature that makes the tradition of Halloween and scary movies great: Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein!
Frankenstein is one of the signatures of the gothic tradition and ghost stories. Today, it has influenced an entire genera of movies, comic strips, Halloween costumes and so much more. But, when the tale was first written, it was just a compitition between friends to see who could write the best ghost story.
Stuck in the moutains because of the weather, Mary Shelly (then Mary Wollstonecraft Godwin), Percy Shelley, Lord Byron and a few others passed the time reading ghost stories, and then writing their own. In this time, the terror-filled tale deveoped. Needless to say, Mary won. Did I mention she was only 18 when she wrote this? (You can find out a bit more at this link to the wikipedia page).
But the novel is more than just a ghost tale, or fodder for movie scripts. It raises questions about science and chemistry, creation, human nature, identity and so much more. The original is worth the read! If you really want to appreciate the entire tradition of gothic novels and ghost stories, run down to your bookstore now.
As I said, Happy Halloween and pleasant reading!