Mary Shelley and Flannery O'Connor: Gothic Isolationists

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Gothic fiction is a genre of literature that combines fiction, horror and Romanticism with a particular focus on the mysterious and supernatural aspects. Gothic fiction originated in England during the latter half of the 18th century. This distinctive genre of literature soon developed into a 19th century phenomenon. The success of this dominant genre in England is frequently attributed to Mary Shelley. Despite its success during this time period, gothic fiction ceased to be a dominant genre by the Victorian Era. However, in many ways it had now begun to enter into its most ingenious phase. This paper will analyze the influence of Mary Shelley’s novel Frankenstein on Flannery O’Connor’s work, specifically her novel Wise Blood.
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Mary Shelley’s first novel, Frankenstein, was published on January 1, 1818. This novel evidently employs “undeniably unorthodox subjects” (Poovey 332). In this work, Shelley narrates the tales of Victor Frankenstein, an idiosyncratic scientist, his grotesque and “wretched” creation and the disastrous events that befall (Shelley 37). Shelley thoroughly represents the gothic theme of isolation by replicating the guilty and fearful emotions of Victor Frankenstein. The novel’s claim to tragedy and murder, which is exemplified throughout every page of the novel, would appear to be the catalyst for Victor Frankenstein’s isolation. Yet in fact, these disastrous events occur are only the result of Victor’s self-inflicted isolation. Victor severs all connections to the outside world, including his family, friends and society; causing him to live a life of torment and isolation. An analysis of Shelley’s “monstrous” character, Victor Frankenstein, affirms how the development of fearful and defensive characteristics had served as a catalyst for the confinement of a self-inflicted life of isolation.
We will first analyze Victor Frankenstein, one of the “monstrous” characters depicted in Frankenstein. According to Carina Brännström, author of An Analysis of the Theme of Alienation in Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, Victor “experiences isolation throughout
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