How strange it is to think that the subject of the VV’s previous post, with its scenes of abandoned adventure ships doomed to rot in the frozen Arctic wastes should reflect such a vivid image from Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein.
And yet, that idea was conceived almost forty years before when, in 1817, Mary Shelley completed her gothic novel, what has since gone on to become one of the enduring classics of English literature. Frankenstein begins with a striking scene where a ship has been trapped in ice-bound seas and, much like the real-life Franklin and McClure, its captain and crew have set out to explore the frozen North in the hope of achieving wealth and fame.
Mary Shelley’s stranded crew catch sight of a distant dog sleigh, driven by a man of monstrous size. He is closely followed by another desperate man who manages to climb on board the ship and then, when recovered sufficiently, begins to tell his story.
He is the tragic Victor Frankenstein, a scientist whose ambition and lust for knowledge has driven him to the edge of hell – a wonderful analogy of the future plight of those mariners who hoped to find notoriety, but instead found themselves in the nightmare grip of the treachorous North-West Passage.
Frankenstein is available to read online, accessed for free from Project Gutenberg.