Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, one of the most impressive works given by Gothic literature is, ironically, the fruit of a game for entertainment.
John Polidori gave the idea to his notable guests (the Shelleys and Lord Byron) to write a horror story to read on a stormy night. Who of them would be the one to write the best horror story hereto? That was the seed for Mary Shelley to write Frankenstein.
Frankenstein is certainly one of the most famous Gothic/horror stories ever, but also a pioneer of the Sci-Fi genre (with notable predecessors, like L'autre monde by Cyrano de Bergerac or Johannes Kepler Somnium). Mary Shelley wanted to support her story in some of the scientific theories and novelties of the period, and that’s a difference opposite to other musts of the Gothic genre like Bram Stoker’s Dracula or Matthew Gregory Lewis’s The Monk, more inspired by folkloric stories and legends and so more to the core and less oriented to scientific explanations to support their stories.
The origin of the monster is a scientific experiment by Dr. Victor Frankenstein, narrator and, following the most common interpretations, true monster, from which Shelley manages to reflect about life and death, about the limits of science itself and the forbidden desire men have to be gods. Perhaps the plot and themes by Shelley, even if clearly Gothic had more influence in Cronenberg’s new flesh aesthetic, the fantasies on artificial intelligence, themes on biotechnology in Cyberpunk, etc., than in the horror literature immediately after nineteenth Gothic literature, like Dunsany, Blackwood or Lovecraft, more inspired by the outer horror represented by (again) Dracula or The Monk.
In any case, a true masterpiece, smart and deep, that together with Brönte's Wuthering Heights, gives women a first category pride of place in nineteenth British literature.