Frankenstein-value for modern readers Mary Shelley's text, Frankenstein is a text, which is highly regarded in today's society for its outstanding literary worth. However, the text as it was seen during the time of Shelley and its appearance and appeal today, most certainly differ. The most significant difference is that over a hundred years ago, the text was seen as a popular text, our modern day Simpsons, if you like. Conversely, today it appeals to the cannon of high culture.
Its gradual change over time has been based on a number of deciding factors. Frankenstein's immediate audience was that of a popular audience. Such an audience purely relied on a story, which would indulge them with exhilaration or apprehension. In the case of Frankenstein the audience was introduced to the horror thesis.
The story told delved piquantly into the tragic ordeals of Victor as his fiend wreaked destruction and devastation to all those, who were close to Victor. This story line is symptomatic of a popular audience, as they craved a story, which would invigorate passion and tragedy. Vast arrays of appropriations have sprung from Shelley's text, which influence as to why the text still remains today. The main source of today's appropriations has been drawn directly from the figure of the monster itself. As, technology advanced and the idea of the stage was subjugated with the growing trend towards cinema, the figure of the original idea of the monster diminished. The figure slowly morphed into a hideous being, possessing green, stitched skin with bolts in the side of the head (lacking the original parallels to Adam).
Unfortunately, the birth of cinema and its immediate success led to the demise of the philosophies and principles, which were initially at the crux of Shelley's Frankenstein. A modern day appropriation of Frankenstein is The Rocky Horror Show, which draws directly from the creation of a monster, yet puts it in a satirical context, once again abating the traditional philosophies. The birth of the horror theme was partly due to Shelley's text and though the horror theme is carried through today, it differs greatly as society now expects a different form of horror. Shelley envisioned a strong sense of humanity in her novel. She encapsulated the quintessence of the period in which she lived by expressing ideologies, such as humanity's relationship with God and the hypothesis of nature versus nurture. The relationship with God was vividly changed during the industrial era.
Shelley's focus on such an aspect admonished society that playing God can have devastating effects, which are perceptibly expressed in Frankenstein. Shelley also made a comment on the idea of nature versus nurture. She enforced contemplation as to whether a being is affected by their original state or by external forces, such as society or family, which can determine their outlook on life. This notion is evident in Frankenstein as we see the monster inflict havoc and destruction due to either his nature or his nurture.
Such philosophical concepts of humanity and the questions posed to society are lost due to modern appropriations, which are aimed at a popular audience. Hence, we can see that that the original concepts in Shelley's text now appeal to a more academic or high culture cannon. The novel itself followed a certain criteria in regards to structure. Shelley was able to dexterously write, whereby the structure of the novel highlighted key issues in society. An example of this is when Walton is writing the letters to his sister.
Despite, his professions as an alchemist, explorer and scientist, he still relies on conventional communication, which is in turn emblematic of the Romantic period. Nevertheless Shelley's use of structure enables the text to be interpreted by the popular culture of the day, which has slowly morphed into the high culture of today. The use of "Old English" also accentuates as to why the text is now appreciated by a high class culture, because the popular culture of today relies on texts, which are easy to interpret or apply to current times. In her novel, Shelley made allusions to texts, which appealed to a high culture of the day, such as Plutarch's Lives, The sorrows of Young Werner by Johann von Goethe and Milton's Paradise Lost. Such texts allured the high culture during Shelley's time and they also interest the high culture of today.
The inclusion of such texts in Frankenstein was indicative of Shelley's supposed target audience. However the horror thesis was too passionate within the text for it not to apply to a popular audience. Shelley also managed to intertwine into her story a series of religious allusions, the most prominent of which was the mythical concept surrounding Prometheus. The story of Prometheus was where Prometheus stole fire from the gods and as punishment was placed on a high plateau where an eagle picked at his liver everyday. Victor is a metaphor for Prometheus as we see how everyday he is punished due to his creation. The use of an underlying metaphor throughout the whole text is illustrative of Shelley's competence as a writer and in effect also appeals to a high culture audience.
Shelley's Frankenstein has eventually been regarded as a classic text. Its cultural heritage possesses the utmost literary merit. Due to Shelley's use of structure, language, philosophical inquiries and copious visions of humanity in Frankenstein she has been able to not only appeal to the popular audience of her day but also enabled the novel to subsist on and be progressively accepted into the cultural-heritage cannon of high culture.