Wide Reading 6 – Coraline by Henry Selick

Coraline directed by Henry Selick, is a 2009 American 3D stop-motion dark fantasy film based on Neil Gailman’s 2002 novel Coraline. Coraline is about a young girl Coraline Jones who discovers a parallel universe, created by a evil witch who was spying on Coraline through a doll that she made to look exactly like it’s owner. Stop-motion is a type of animation in which puppets are posed in scene, then photographed for a single frame, then moved ever so slightly, then photographed again. Film are usually created with 100,00 or so frames. Stop-motion filming was also used to create movies such as Wallace and Gromit by Nick Parks and also used in The Night Before Christmas directed by Henry Selick.  

This film is very contrasting in it’s settings. In the reality world, it is ver dark and doesn’t have much colour, accept for Coraline and her clothes and there are always clouds in the sky or it is raining, made for this world to look unpleasing. The parallel universe, there is a lot of colour the sky is clear – that we can see. The house they are living in, also known as the Pink Palace, in the real world is very rundown, and always leaking, and the paint colour has faded and is chipping off. In the parallel universe the Pink Palace is up to date, the colours are bright. The garden in reality is really is dead and grey, and around there is a foggy forest making the area look unpleasant and scary, but in the parallel universe the grass is green and at the garden is well kept and colourful. However when Coraline start to disobey the other mother (the witch) the parallel word starts to become more and more monochromatic and dark, showing the true side of the parallel universe. When Coraline returns to reality after defeating the other mother, the real world appears more appealing, its more colourful and less spooky.       

The music in the film Coraline was composed by Bruno Couals. The films music is somewhat mysterious its always played in the odd key that makes us ver unsettled. In the opening scene we have what some would call creepy music, you can also here a low voice singing as well children singing. Its in a flat key, and played with lots of sharps making the music sound unsettling. There are also a lot of string instruments. Towards the end of the opening scene the low voice turns into a more feminine voice that sounds like the other mother’s – although we haven’t been introduced to the other mother yet, we know it is the other mother because, when we see the other mother the first time Coraline goes through the door, the other mother is singing the same tune as the opening scene. Through out the film the music is very unsettling with light strings and a weird sort of piano, then intensifies with the backing of drums and more dramatic sounding strings.  

I think the film was very good. Like The Nightmare Before Christmas directed by Henry Selick and The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde, Coraline isn’t you usual gothic text, but it does have some gothic elements in it, for example, the foggy forest in the reality world, and the music that is used. I also like the use of stop-motion animation, the use of the stop-motion really went well with the film because, puppets like we see in the film, look like they are meant to have button eyes, which is what the other mother was trying to get Coraline to do, sew buttons into her eys.Overall it was a really good twist to a gothic genre.

Wide Reading 4: The Night Before Christmas. Directed by Henry Selick. Produced by Tim Burton

The Night Before Christmas directed by Henry Selick and produced by Tim Burton, is a fantastic film about Jack Skellington who lives and as well as The Pumpkin King – taking a lot of tops from German Expressionism with the set design –  who wonders through a portal to Christmas Town and decides to celebrate the holiday, with some horrible and comical consequences. 

The main setting in the film is Halloween Town which is dark and gloomy. The town is made out of stone mostly, has tall towers, crooked gates and fences with pointed tips, and it was looks like a town hall, there are six deformed and angled pillars. The colours in the town are very dark accept for the colours which are considered ( found at the right shade of the colour) a ‘halloween colour. Everything in the town is also dead all of the trees and plants are dead. All of the clothing worn by the monsters are darker colours and sometimes ripped and torn, and stripped. The sky is very dark and full of clouds. These are all well known elements of gothic fiction elements, Selick and Burton but their own twist onto it to make it more kid-like and more appealing to children, but still making really creepy.  

The music style used in the film is very well-known it is staccato, and has the string instruments played in A minor. Minor chords are used in gothic film because if they are played right they sound ver gothic like as seen in this film and other gothic film. Along with the instrumental music there is also singing, because this is a musical the singing music – when singing in groups – there are two voices a deep voice and a really high, giving the songs dynamics and levels.This is a well used tool in gothic fiction film, they use minor keys because it makes that unpleasant sound, and makes everything sound rather evil like and scary.  

“Imagine Rankin-Bass Productions, like that mandatory annual great Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, hijacked by macabre sensibilities and a devilish flare for the grim (and the Grimm). All those innocent characters are suddenly twisted and torn apart, and then reassembled with skeleton frames, sewn with Frankenstein-like stitches, sporting wart-ridden noses and a deep hunger for blood. And yet, they remain sweet and loveable, even in their ghoulish and morbid form. Tim Burton conceived such an idea in 1993 with The Nightmare Before Christmas, the stop-motion animation picture that continues its cult fandom and box-office successes to this day, by drawing inspiration from everyone’s favorite yearly holiday television specials… Though initially envisaged as a TV special in the realm of his inspiration, Burton teamed with former Disney animator Henry Selick and together developed his original story ideas into a feature.” Is what Brian Eggert in October the 21st, 2008 said about the Nightmare Before Christmas, and I totally agree with him The Night Before Christmas is a wonderful horror fantasy movie that is filled with exitement and adventure.

Wide Reading Task Number 5 – The Picture of Dorian Gray By Oscar Wilde.

“The only way to get rid of temptation is to yield to it.” – Oscar Wilde The Picture of Dorian Gray

The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde, set in London in 1890, and is about a young and handsome man named Dorian Gray, who having promised his soul in order to live a life of perpetual youth, by making his bodily decay and dissipation be recorded on his painting rather than himself. The book is told in the third person, and the narrator is unknown to the reader. This book displays many well known gothic features such as: a gothic protagonist and, the presence of the supernatural. 

Dorian Gray personality traits are well used in the gothic world, Dorian has distinct contrasting qualities [he appears as a gentlemen in public, and then is indulging himself in unorthodox pleasures], is of a high social stature, he is often surrounded by devices the foreshadow something negative [the painting], driven by strong emotions rather than logic or reason [he is driven by his ambition to stay young forever], generally secretive or surrounded by an air of mystery [no one actually is under the gentlemen act], and has a “need to know” or curious nature [everyone knows all of his background and what he likes to show, but nobody really knows what he is like]. The character Dorian Gray is a very classic gothic protagonist, he displays all the well known traits of a gothic protagonist. 

The presence of the supernatural is within the painting. After Dorian curses the painting a sort of demonic presence takes over the painting, which we are lead to believe is Dorian Gray’s soul ageing, as the physical Dorian stays young forever. In most gothic films and novels the presence of the supernatural is a physical being such as, a vampire or a werewolf etc, but in The Picture of Dorian Gray, the presence of the supernatural is spiritual; and although we can see the effects of the supernatural we never see the physical embodiment of the supernatural, that what makes this novel different from the other gothic texts.

In conclusion The Picture of Dorian Gray has some very commonly used features with it’s own twits and turns for the gothic genre. I think it was a fantastic novel I think that was written really well. Wilde really let his imagination flourish but also kept the novel simple.   

Speech

As we are growing up, we are influenced by everything and everyone around us. From experiences we face, to the actions we take, we are shaped to become the people we are now, today.  This is what Sweeney Todd did, he took his personal experience – losing his wife – and learnt from that experience; what did he learn from it?, that the world is a cruel place?, that just because someone has a higher ranking?, lots of money, that, it means they can do what they want? 

Sweeney Todd. Sweeney Todd had his whole life taken away from him, he got his wife and child taken away from him, and then was imprisoned and shipped off to Australia, by false accusation, by another mans aka Judge Turpin. After 15 years, Todd had to make his way all the way back from Australia to England. Thinking his wife and child were waiting for him at home, only to find out that, his wife “committed suicide” after being raped by the Judge Turpin, who also took Mr. Todd’s daughter captive in a room. Out of revenge and spite he became a bit of a serial killer, by slitting the throats, of whom ever dared to walk in for a shave. 

Ichabod Crane’s experience was that when he was a child,  his father killed his mother for being a witch, and was then o raised by his father. When we see him a young man in the film we see him being an accomplished young man, who is quite involved in with solving the secrets of the human body, and trying to explain why his mother got killed. After going to Sleepy Hollows and going through the whole Headless Horsemen dilemma, and the experience bring up memories of his mother and his mothers death. He finally solves why his mother got killed by his father, and he feels a lot better about hi past trauma. 

So why did these two men end up following such different paths? Why didn’t Crane become a mass murder when he was older? Why didn’t Todd be more like Crane and be more sad rather than angry about the situation? There are couple of reasons, one main reason would be their age. When the trauma happened to Todd, he was a fulling grown adult, he had already had a really good life and had gotten that good life taken away from him, and he also understood what happened, unlike Crane. Crane went through his major trauma when he was a child, he didn’t understand why his mother got killed, so therefore, just felt sad and confused. But then he starts to take a lot of  interest in science and then in the law to clear his childhood confusion of his mother. 

Film Essay

Tim Burton, the director of the two films that we have been studying in class (Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street, and Sleepy Hollow), is renowned for his gothic fiction movies. He also likes to connect his movies together, with classic gothic fiction conventions and features such as the settings he creates, the music he uses and the color that we see in the film as well. Burton likes to make his audience captivated by his work, whether it be making them on edge, or leaving them in shock, with the aspects that Burton uses in both films. Like a child with candy, we just get enough of Burton’s films and after we watch one of his films, all we want is to watch more.

Firstly the setting of the films. The settings in both films both quite gloomy and dark and isolated. Sleepy Hollow is surrounded by woods, and when we first see it when Ichabod Crane (played by Johnny Depp), walks into town from New York to solve a murder in Sleepy Hollow, we see that the town is very gloomy and spooky. Burton makes the town look like that with the way he uses chiaroscuro. Chiaroscuro is a German Expressionism lighting feature, Burton and many other directors use chiaroscuro in their work to make a lot of shadows, therefore, making the setting gloomy and dark. Burton also uses commonly used gothic features in his settings, like the sheep, the white pointed fences, the church etc. In Sweeney Todd, his attic where he murders people, is quite dark and there is a heavy use of chiaroscuro. The attic that Sweeny Todd lives has a very simple layout, there isn’t much in the room, just the cair, the mirror, and the fire/stove where he makes his tea. In this room, there is a lot of dark and light contrast, which is a commonly used feature in gothic fiction and German Expressionism. These features help to develop the gothic conventions like tone and mood in both films, therefore, making the mood of the films very uneasy and mythical and make the supernatural element seem more ‘scary’. I think what Burton’s intentions were to,  make the settings uneasy and gloomy, therefore, foreshadowing that something bad was going to happen and made sure the audience knew that something initially ‘off’.  Burton uses these features well to create an uneasy, suspenseful, dark setting, while using all the commonly used ways to make us on edged.

Secondly, the music. The music in both films are very similar, the music when something bad is going to happen is very intense and suspenseful and dramatic, for example, when the credits are appearing on screen is suspenseful and dramatic. The music in the films is also used to build the suspense when the audience thinks something bad is going to happen, for example, when Sweeney Todd is shaving the Judges face it is very suspenseful, and the audience thinks that something is going to happen. The music in Sweeney Todd is very contrasting since Sweeney Todd is a musical therefore is dialogue. Most of the time the dialogue doesn’t sound like the music for example, when Mrs. Lovette and Sweeney Todd are singing about cannibalism the music is very happy, which makes the audience very uncomfortable because, it’s such a dark topic but the sing it in such a happy and enthusiastic way. Like in Sweeney Todd, Sleepy Hollow has a very contrasting music in it. Even though Sleepy Hollow isn’t a musical, there is this one song/chant that Katrina Vangarat is singing when Ichabod Crane first comes into the artificially colored hall. Katrina is singing about the ‘pickity witch’, she sings “the pickety witch, the pickety witch, who’s got a kiss for the pickety witch” in a very scratchy and witch-like way, but the music in that is going on in the film at the time is a very happy song that’s playing on the fiddle. What I think that Burton was trying to do was to make the audience uneasy, and confused.

Lastly the color throughout the films. The color throughout both films is very monochromatic, except for some key moments of the films. A very centralized color that they use in both films is the color red. Most of the color in the films is very dark but when we start to see the red, symbolizing blood, and it ends up being very bright and vibrant. I think what Burton was trying to make the color red more vibrant,  to make the movement they were doing more dramatic, whether it be slicing someone’s throat like Sweeney Todd does, or haking at a tree that’s sap is the blood of the Headless horseman’s victims. Secondly, Burton uses color when he is showing flashbacks. In the present time of the movie it is all dark, but when Todd is talking about his wife and child and the audience sees his memory, the color is vibrant and more yellow, which we associate with happiness, unlike black and dark colors which we associate with sadness or bad things. Another thing that is very vibrant in color is the hall the Crane first enters when he comes to the town to find Mr. Vangarat. The outside of the hall and its surroundings are very dark and there isn’t much color, but when he goes into the hall, the hall is very artificially colored. I think Burton was trying to portray, that there was something that the higher archy of the town ( like the paster, Mr. Vangart etc), were trying to keeps something hidden from the rest of the town, we know this because, they have had a number amount of murders in the town, and yet they are having a party, seems a bit odd doesn’t it? At the end of both films, the color in the films fades or appear more. At the end of Sweeney Todd, we see that Todd has been consumed by revenge for his wife, that the ‘color from his life goes’, we see this when he looks back at a picture of his wife and his daughter and it’s black and white instead of colored. At the end of Sleepy Hollows, after they have defeated the headless horseman and the ‘darkness and evil has left the town’, all the color comes back to the town, meaning the gloomy clouds go away and lets light come into the town again, everything begins to grow and look pretty again, as Crane, Katerina, and Young Masbeth leave Sleepy Hollow.

In conclusion, Tim Burton is an amazing director, and his films are outstanding. Burton mostly uses gothic fiction features because gothic fiction is intriguing and mysterious. When we are watching these films we are always on edge because the scenes and sound that we hear and watch keep toying with the emotions, we are always thinking whats going to happen next, that is why gothic fiction is so good to watch. I personally think that is Burton’s purpose, is to make sure that us as the audience keeps watching, is surprising the audience, he keeps his ending surprising throughout his films until the end. For example in Sleepy Hollow Burton tried to make the Katerina look like the one who was summoning the headless horseman and making her the center of attention, but in the end, it was the stepmother who was mentioned much until the end. He likes to sidetrack his audience, so we don’t see the actual ending. In these two films, Burton uses commonly used conventions and features because, these common convention and features are what we expect, but when Burton puts his own twist on the films we get that sort of unexpectedly so we have to keep watching because we don’t know what expect anymore. That is what Burton is trying to do, he is trying to make the unknown, known.

Questions

  1. Make a list of German Expression Filmmaking Techniques that have been linked with Gothic Horror;
  • Minse-en-scene
  • chiaroscuro
  • Ornate
  • Monochromatic
  1. One particular technique, chiaroscuro is particularly memorable in Sweeny Todd attic room. What key features of this setting that develop chiaroscuro?

In all corners of the attic room, you will see the corners are a lot darker than the parts of the attic where the widow shines.

  1. Think about the same technique, chiaroscuro, and its presence in Sleepy Hollows. Can you describe a setting?

A setting in Sleepy Hollows is the setting in Sleepy Hollows is the setting with the tree in it. The contrasting colors are the tree itself is really dark, and the trees around it are really dark as well, but the sky and the people in the scene are very lightly colored.

  1. Expressionist filmmaking also favors to develop an idea. How is the color used in Sweeny Todd and Sleepy Hollows?

In both Sweeny Todd and Sleepy Hollows have very monochromatic colors, but then red is the only color that is only really used is red representing blood which is very bright and vibrant.

  1. A feature of Gothic horror is the claustrophobic fear that there is no escape. Consider techniques fear that is presented in both films that develop this fear.

In Sleepy Hollows, the claustrophobic feature is shown through when he trying to solve the shown through when Johnny Deeps character is trying to solve the murders and he just keeps coming to dead ends.

In Sweeny Todd, the claustrophobic feature is shown through the fact he sees no other way to avenge his wife by murdering the ones who did her wrong.

  1. What is the “Hammer Horror” style? describe its defining features and explain what influences you can see in the two films

I couldn’t answer this question because I don’t know what Hammer Horror is

  1. The red blood is a distant feature of both films what is its purpose?

The purpose of the color red in both films is to show blood and the brutality of what the characters are doing or what is happening.

Wide Reading Task Number 3 – Dracula

“There are darknesses in life, and there are lights. You are one of the lights. You will have a happy life and a good life, and your husband will be blessed in you.”

Dracula written by Bram Stoker is a novel about a young English lawyer (Johnathan Harker) who travels to Transylvania in Eastern Europe, to conclude a real estate transaction with a nobleman by the name of Count Dracula. As he proceeds to the home of Count Dracula, he gets given warnings on the way by the peasants in the countryside, as Harker is passing through the countryside, peasants give him crucifixes and other charms, and they mutter strange words that translate into “vampire”.Harker investigates more into Count Dracula and in the end, find out that he possesses supernatural powers and diabolical ambitions. After Harker is attacked by three beautiful seductive female vampires, he fears for his life and escapes from the castle.

At home in England, Harker’s fiance (Mina)’s friend Lucy not long after visiting a Russian shipwreck with the only cargo is a set of fifty boxes shipped from Dracula’s Castle. Mina, one night finds Lucy with glowing red eyes at the cemetery. Lucy starts to go pale, and she bears two tiny red marks on her throat. Unable to determine a diagnoses Dr. Seward calls for his mentor, Professor Van Helsing.

Harker, suffering from a brain fever, reappears in the city of Buda-Pest.  Lucy’s room is covered in garlic, which trains her illness, but her mother who is unaware of the garlic powder accidentally removes it, leaving Lucy vulnerable to further attacks. Lucy is further transformed into a vampire and Van Helsing kills her.   

The castle in Dracula is a ver ancient castle. When the reader reads the word castle it automatically creates this key idea of the haunting, and the word castle also provides a ghostly atmosphere. Castles have a lot of history and mystery circulating it, which is why they are often used in Gothic fiction. The main building in Dracula is, Dracula’s ancient and sinister castle. His castle has many turrets and towers, and it’s dark, mysterious and isolated from civilisation. It is set up on top of a high mountain top. the environment around the castle is very dark, so it’s hard to determine between day and night. The castle is not welcoming, “bell or knocker there was no sign; through these frowning walls and dark windows opening it was not likely that my voice could penetrate”. This castle could be compared to a prison or a dungeon, because you can neither get out or come in, that is why it was so difficult for Harker when he was trying to escape.

The supernatural in Dracula. To give a sense of horror and uncertainty this dark entity (Count Dracula) is placed in the story. Stroker describes Dracula as not having a “single spec of colour about him”, this gives the reader an uneasy, spine-tingling about this character. The supernatural continues to occur, when Mina is looking for Lucy, the clouds are posing a sort of cloud over them, creating a shadow; as if the shadow was some sort of barrier making sure that Mina doesn’t find Lucy.

In conclusion, I think Dracula is the classic gothic novel with all the classic techniques of a gothic novel, the setting of the castle it had pointed steeples, it was in the middle of nowhere, it was big and intimidating just like every gothic castle should be, Stroker did a really good job, using words that really captured the feeling of the castle and it’s surrounding. I really liked the novel I thought it was really good to read and the author really painted a clear picture in my head with describing all the setting, and the way that the characters were feeling. The features of gothic fiction that Stoker used like setting and the use of the supernatural just adds to the novels beauty and the feeling of the book, that makes it so good and entertaining for the audience to read, and its what makes the novel different from any other book. Stoker wrote a really good novel and I would highly advise it for anyone.

Wide Reading Log Number 2 – Twilight Franchise

“The gloom of the forest didn’t relent, though, for there were six primordial cedars that shaded an entire acre with their vast sweep of branches. The trees held their protecting shadow right up to the walls of the house that rose among them….”

The Twilight franchise is written by Stephenie Meyer is a fantasy-themed series based about a young woman, Isabella Swan (Bella), and her life living in Forks, Washington, and who falls in love with a 104-year-old vampire named Edward Cullen. Mainly from Bella’s point of view. In the end, Bella is turned into a vampire after getting pregnant by Edward on their honeymoon. The Cullen Family also end up going and changing the Volturi’s perspectives on half breed vampires.

One of the main gothic element we see in the series is the supernatural beings, such as vampires and werewolves. The presence of the supernatural is a very common element in most gothic fiction novel. The main character’s love interest (Edward Cullen) is actually a vampire as well as his whole family, and in the last book Bella herself is turned into a vampire by her half-blood baby. “And you’re worried, not because you’re headed to meet a houseful of vampires, but because you think those vampires won’t approve of you, correct?” (Edward Cullen – Twilight). “Laurent, these are Victoria and James.” He gestured to the vampires beside him.” (Edward Cullen Twilight) Victoria and James the first protagonists of the story, Victoria continues to be the protagonists for the first three books.

There are also werewolves in the novels as well, and it happens to be one of Bella’s friends is a werewolf, but we don’t really hear much about them until the second book “ He was a tribal elder, like my father. You see, the cold ones are the natural enemies of the wolf—well, not the wolf, really, but the wolves that turn into men, like our ancestors. You would call them werewolves.” (Jacob Black Twilight). 

The prescience of the supernatural in gothic fiction is a common used because, it’s the fear of the unknown, we don’t know what these creatures are doing, we don’t know where they come, could they possible hurt us? They are a key element in gothic fiction because, we know so little about them that we are scared of them, and that’s one of the key elements that make the twilight franchise, and other gothic fiction book so exciting.  

A big part about gothic fiction novels is the setting and how the author describes a scene. In the book Bella describes the down as : “…..a small town named Forks exists under a near-constant cover of clouds. It rains on this inconsequential….. It was from this town and its gloomy….” (Twilight). This is describing a very commonly used set, there is more clouds than sky in the sky, it’s dark and miserable. This is a commonly used type of setting that authors use because, it gives the book that darkness yo make the seem scary and like every corner you turn something bad might happen, like the presence of the supernatural the gloomy and dark setting makes the book so good, because the gloomy setting makes us have a fear of the unknown. 

Another element of setting is how isolated the town is from the rest of the world, and how some parts of nature seem to represent that isolation: “The forest spread out around us in a boundless labyrinth of ancient trees” (Twilight). This is a key element of gothic fiction because, it makes the reader feel like if something bad does happen no body will be able to anything because the protagonist is too far away and it creates this fear of panic within the reader.  

I think the author’s intention was mainly just to make entertainment for the readers the series is very drama filled, and has a lot of romance, and at the same time has that dynamic of gothic fiction was well orchestrated, by the presence of gothic fiction, the gloomy and dark settings, and the isolation of the town, all key elements of gothic fiction which just make the book that much more mysterious and enjoyable.

The series was really good, I liked all the drama in the book, the fantasy in the book. It was very well written by leaving many pictures in my mind. What I also liked about the book is that Meyer twist on her books she mixed gothic fiction, fantasy and romance together to make a thrilling and enjoyable series. I also liked it showed the relationship of family, because in the books the Cullen’s sacrificed everything for Bella and Edward because they are family, and that’s what I loved about the book.

Sweeney Todd Analysis

  • All dark and mysterious settings
  • Not really any other colors than Singora Parelli’s clothes that he is wearing.
  • When Singora Parelli’s sharpening his shaving blade you can tell he enjoys hurting the little boy (Jack).
  • The purple that Singora Parelli is wearing is associated with trickery and magic.
  • Todd has some sort of supernatural ability with shaving faces.
  • when Tod is shaving in the competition we see that he takes his time and is very careful, but at the end of the film and when he kills Parelli we see a repulsive and insane side of Todd
  • When Todd is offering to shave the judge’s 2IC, Todd foreshadows his feelings by the way he offers.
  • Joanna’s windows are blurry indicating that her perspective of the world is very limited
  • The smashed mirror shows how Todd is ‘broken’ and how his past is broken
  • The flowers that Mrs. Lovett sings about shows symbolism because to Mr. Todd to him it represents and happy life therefore when Mrs. Lovett suggests getting flowers it tells him that she wants to start a life together.
  • The silver razors that Mr. Todd has represents justice
  • The ‘evil’ music that is layered over the scene when Singora Parelli comes to the barber shop is foreshadowing intensity.
  • The kettle on the boiler also helps the audience to see a metaphor – the temper of Mr. Todd when he boils over – when Mr. Todd kills Singora Parelli
  • When he kills Singora Parelli it makes him look insane
  • Dramatic irony- when Jack sits on the chest which Singora Parelli is in because he can’t see the hand sticking out but we can see it.
  •  When Todd twitches his lip he’s trying not to lose his temper.
  • When the judge convicts the little boy we get a repulsiveness towards the Judge.

John Locke

In this essay, I will explain the connections with Mary Shelly’s gothic novel Frankenstein, John Locke’s theory “Concerning human understanding”. The novel Frankenstein seems to incorporate the idea of Locke’s theory as you see in the novel when we as the audience come in contact with Frankenstein’s monster for the first time.

Born on the 29th of August, 1632 John Locke was an English philosopher and physician, known widely as one of the great minds of the Enlightenment thinkers. Locke attended Westminster School in London and then went to Christ Church, Oxford, where he studied medicine, which played a major part in his understanding of his Tabula Rasa theory. Locke was also the one who distinguished between simple and complex knowledge. Locke was one of the most well-known philosophers and political theorists of the 17th and 18th centuries. Locke also wrote many books on a range of different topics. Locke is considered the ‘father of liberalism’, which is established on the principle of the liberty and equality, which then lead him to be a founder of the U.S Declaration of Independence and Constitution of human rights.

The theory that we are focusing on, and that is Tabula Rasa or ‘blank slate’ theory. The Tabula Rasa theory is that the when a child is born their mind is ‘white paper, void of all characters’, and we learn by experiences Locke says in one his essays “No man’s theory goes beyond his experience”. Locke believed that every human was born with their mind completely blank, which went against all traditional philosophy, which was that at the very least that when we were born we were born with some rational thinking and ‘human nature’ which Locke did not believe in. Locke believed that all men were born equal. This was thought of when Locke meet Anothny Ashley Cooper, who advanced Locke’s career, he followed him to Holland where he first wrote “Concerning human understanding” – his first novel – and then later returned to England where he wrote more books.

In Mary Shelly’s gothic novel Frankenstein Victor Frankenstein (the protagonist), creates a monster from numerous body parts, from the dead. After Frankenstein created the monster he left the monster to fend for himself. Not knowing any language or had no capabilities of any sort, the monster spied on a family living in the woods where he learned everything he needed to know, how to survive, how to read and write. He soon after turned to kill all of Frankenstein’s family, payback for leaving him alone.

At the beginning of the novel, the monster narrates and he says: “I started up and beheld a radiant form among the trees”. Here the monster lacks initial awareness of the world, just as a child would, this is showing how the monster is learning by experience, Like Locke’s theory. We also see throughout the book that just like a child the monster craves knowledge: “…was indeed a godlike science, and I ardently desired to become acquainted with it… I cannot describe the delight I felt when I learned the ideas appropriated to each of various sounds and was able to pronounce them”. 

“I felt light, and hunger, and thirst, and darkness; innumerable sounds rang in my ears, and on all sides, various scents saluted me”. This said by the monster shows us that, the monster had no prior knowledge of the world, this is another place where we see Locke’s theory come through the story.

This quotes from the story said by the monster: “I began to distinguish my sensations from each other. I gradually saw plainly the clear stream that supplied me with drink, and the trees that shaded me with their foliage.” shows us that the monster learned by experience, there showing us Lock’s theory that all children are born with a blank slate for a mind, and that we learn and comprehend the world by experience.

All together in the novel, we can clearly see Locke’s theory make appearances throughout the book, the monster being created with no comprehension of the world no previous knowledge of the outside world, and that the monster leaning by experience; but if we are meant to say that the monster learnt from experience are when then meant to say if Frankenstein only looked after the monster he might not have become a monster. Nurture over nature.

In conclusion, I think that Mary Shelly was inspired by Locke with Tabula Rasa, that she decided to incorporate it into her gothic novel. I think that the novel was a bit of realism with the growing of a child, sure it had people coming back from the dead and killing all of his creators family, but, I think it showed realism when it came to the monster developing his personality, the novel showed the readers that no matter where you are born or how you look, we are all made the same we all have a blank slate for a mind when we are first born. The novel showed us that “No man’s theory goes beyond his experience” which was Locke’s theory.