Subversion of a (Gothic Horror) Genre - 'Frankenstein and What Lies Beneath'

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Genre is the French term for type, or class of composition. It is the classification of literary works according to common conventions and elements of content, form, or technique so as to prevent audiences from mistaking it for another kind. Today, traditional genres are being adapted to suit modern context to better represent the values and beliefs of modern society. The gothic horror genre is an example of a genre that has been adapted to remain relevant and suit modern context through the subversion of its canonic conventions and the incorporation of modern values. Mary Shelley’s canonic text ‘Frankenstein’ and Robert Zemeckis’ modern film ‘What Lies Beneath,’ are both examples of traditional and modern adaptations of the gothic horror genre. The novel, ‘Frankenstein’ contains the hallmarks of a canonic gothic horror text, and represents the context and values of the time that the genre was developed. The film ‘What Lies Beneath’, however, contains subversions to incorporate the feminist rhetoric but still retains the hallmarks displayed in ‘Frankenstein’. The gothic horror genre developed around the time of the industrial revolution in Britain. New technology and the advancements in science led the writers of the time to express their ideas and beliefs about the rejection of god for science in the form of fiction. Mary Shelley’s ‘Frankenstein’ was written during the nineteenth century in Europe, a time of patriarchy, where scientific advancement was taking place and people feared the rejection of god. Dr Victor Frankenstein represents the rationale of the era with his enthusiasm for natural philosophy and science in all its forms. He becomes obsessed with the creation of life and how to obtain the secret of life. Rejecting ethical and moral values and religion, Frankenstein sets out to create a Man, skipping the birth process, rejecting god, and testing the advancement and possibilities of science. Frankenstein creates his monster, and abandons it. It then...
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