What is Frankenstein Even About?

Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein is up for public debate. Following the death of Shelley’s mother, feminist legend Mary Wollstoncraft, it is valid to say her novel is largely motivated by this event. Moreover, the deeply psychological and religious motivations within the text help shape our view of the novel’s main characters, especially Victor. Whether it be an exploration into parenthood, death or lamentation, Frankenstein is a novel that has instilled great debate in my mind and the wider world of literature.



The absence of a maternal figure has left Shelley questioning what motherhood entails. Exacerbated by her several miscarriages, the disassociation with maternal feelings seems to surge through Frankenstein. Victor mirrors a birthing scene as he animated his monster in his lab, portrayed in Kenneth Branagh’s adaption with a womb- like ambiance. This shows Shelley exploring the science of motherhood, with the awkwardness and consequent neglect a result of Shelley’s own feeling of disconnection from both a mother and child. Therefore, the entirety of Shelley’s novel can be seen to be an exploration into what it is to be a parent, and Victor’s subsequent failure at this through abandonment and lack of nurture. This is supported by Frankenstein and his monster’s poignant goodbye towards the end of the novel, whereby, despite their conflicting hate and vengeance towards each other throughout the novel, there is an essence of love and lament. This reflects the unconditional familial love one feels towards their child or parent, drawing a conclusion to Shelley’s question regarding what it means to be a mother.

A modern reader could diagnose the novel’s protagonist, Victor Frankenstein, with an assortment of mental health problems. His depressive state continues throughout the text, with contemplations of suicide and extreme isolation. The juxtaposition of these depressive states with those of jubilance also suggests the chance Victor suffers from Bipolar disorder; in his periods of mania and depression, Victor channels pathetic fallacy to mirror his state of mind. This is supported by his flouncy attitude to his love interest, Elizabeth Lavenza and the jump from extreme motivation to animate his creation, to utter seclusion from mankind and his love of science. The underlying mental health references are possibly a reflection of the anachronistic taboo attitude to mental issues, where someone would simply be committed to a mental asylum; could this be the authority-critical voice of her anarchist father William Godwin shining through?

In conjunction with the psychoanalytical debate, Frankenstein’s monster can be seen to be a mental concoction of his id or a possible dissociative personality disorder.  The whole ‘animation’ scene could be perceived as a spiritual awakening of Victor’s repressed violence, explaining the deep connection Victor seems to have with the monster’s actions. Alike gothic phenomena ‘Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde‘ the theme of doppelgangers and doubles are extremely common in Gothic literature of the period, mixing horror and terror with psychological and physical discomfort.

Shelley’s involvement with the Free Love movement suggests that there must be some essence of homoeroticism somewhere in her one and only novel. The relationship between Victor and Clerval is questioned to be more than good friends like a contextual reading would interpret it; their close relationship and Victor’s reliance and acceptance of his company within his deep feelings pf desolation, may depict a kind of homoerotic relationship between the two. This is enhanced by Victor’s seeming disinterest in marrying Elizabeth, and his more intense reaction to Clerval’s murder than his bride-to-be.

In reality, we will never actually know what Frankenstein’s moral is, or what Shelley’s intentions were when writing her masterpiece. The ambiguity in so many fields truly creates a mysterious air around the text, leaving us as the reader bemused and questioning; that is the true nature of literature.

Angel Witney



Alex DeLarge: a Tragic Villain

The dystopian, ultra- violent world Burgess’ ‘A Clockwork Orange’ has created withstands his legacy as a novelist. The contextual flavours and stylised use of historical and societal concepts is beautifully embellished by Kubrick’s film adaptation of the book, whereby the upturned version of British society is brought to life in moving picture. I have found it difficult to determine whether I prefer the film or novel of ‘A Clockwork Orange’, provoking me to come to the conclusion that I have ultimately fallen in love with the story.

clockor orange 2


The dichotomy of a charming and nonchalant protagonist, Alex DeLarge, amongst a world of corruption, violence and rape creates the feeling of discomfort and insecurity as the reader ponders as to whether they even like the persona of the book. This is further enhanced when Alex is a subject of the ‘Ludovico Technique’ after he is charged with murder. The confusion instilled in the reader presents the conflict between sympathy and justification for the torture inflicted upon Alex, therefore challenging the reader’s perception of the main character and his motives. Kubrick embodies Burgess’ sense of audience sympathy and justification through Alex’s initial self-aggrandisement to his vulnerability in the end of the film. It can be seen as an attack on youth culture through the manipulation of audience sympathy; using Alex’s youth as a justification for his violent acts and abusing his vulnerable portrayal to make the audience forget why he is being tortured in the first place. This manipulation is ultimately due to Burgess’ writing and the creation of a story where the victor becomes the victim by his own accord, and embodies the literary tragic villain.

.clockwork 3

The use of ‘the old ultra-violence’ in a very visual, graphic sense encapsulates the reader by shocking them into the reality of this British dystopia. The gruesome descriptions of Alex and his droogs’ violent acts, and the vivid rape and torture in Kubrick’s film, forces the audience to become comfortable with it and therefore lulls them into immersing themselves in what society would be like tolerating ultra-violence. Having been written in the 1960s, I can be said that Burgess’ aim when incorporating ultra- violence was to foreshadow how society would degrade with the swinging 60s liberal revolution, enthused by his Catholic background. This is supported by the influence of London’s ‘Teddy Boys’ in the creation of Alex’s ‘droogs’, suggesting that societal violence will increase with growing liberalism. Juxtaposing the use of serious, harmful violence with the created language of ‘Nadsat’ mutes its atrocity and restores the sense of normality when one compares it to the use of Cockney in London. This also adds to Alex’s charm and makes the reader excuse his evil actions. Kubrick interprets the violence in Burgess’ novel perfectly with no censorship or sugar coating, instilling that shock and discomfort that set the atonal thrill and intrigue ‘A Clockwork Orange’ creates.

The chilling tone shadowing the events throughout the novel is ultimately inflicted by the irreconcilable identification of a villain. Although Alex’s transgression is formidable, it can be argued that he is simply fulfilling an overbearing addiction, and is in some sense a victim. Similarly, the doctors involved with the Ludovico technique are presented through Alex’s eyes as torturous and evil, but perhaps they genuinely feel like they are curing Alex or are the book’s heroes by giving him his just desserts. These question remain unanswered, which in my eyes is the beauty of Burgess’ novel and the unique affect it has.

Angel Witney



Artist of the Week: Luan Barber-Norton

“Hmmmm a paragraph about me? I am luan. I’m 19 goin on 9.  I am an illustrator.

luan 5Luan studied interactive media at bury college , where she tried different art styles such as photography, film, graphic design and, in the last year, finally started to experiment with illustration.luan 4

Gemma Correll was a huge inspiration for Luan in her college years because it is important to Luan to incorporate humour into her illustrations.

“I just want people to look at my illustrations and feel a bit better”

Luan now studies at DMU in Leicester and came out with a first after year one.  Uni has really helped Luan develop her style and skills.

“On the first day of uni I turned up with one fine liner and a pencil, having no clue what the fuck to do and only knowing how to draw funny cartoons.”

Towards the start of university Luan became more and more interested in Frances Cannon.

Luan also designed and drew the logo for Cult Clash!


“Her and her art have given me a lot more confidence within myself and my art work. From the 2 years studying illustration I’ve discovered making people feel better about themselves is what I want to do. I want people to feel good when they look at my art. And that’s what I plan to do for the rest of my illustrator life.
Thanks for listening *drops mic*.”

Artist of the Week: Shannon Pinnell

“At first, I had no plan as to what aspect of youth culture I wanted to focus on, I just took my camera out with me and shot anything.”


Shannon Pinnell is a photographer from Bedford, England. ‘Growing Pains’ is a photography series based on youth culture and friendships formed during our teenage years.

shannon 4

When I looked back at all of my images, there were way over 100 photos so I kind of just put them all into separate groups and this group was the one that stood out the most.”


Friendship and closeness stands out straight away. Whilst being candid, those in the photos seem completely open around each other, even in shots there are people just by themselves in the frame; the photographer is still there on the other side of the camera who they have some sort of relationship with.


“I arranged the photos so gradually it gets darker, people get closer and people become more intoxicated even to the point where the camera itself doesn’t actually work properly anymore.”


Shannon is inspired by artists such as Chloe Sheppard, Richard Billingham, Cindy Sherman, Corrine Day and Henri Cartier-Bresson.

shanon 9

Shannon is currently at her second year of Bedford College studying photography and hopes to go on to UWE in Bristol next year to study fashion communications.

A Populist Façade: “Make America Great Again”

As stated by Wikipedia, Populism is a mode of political communication that appeals to the “common man,” often contrasted with the enemy of the “privileged elite.”‘ In other words, populism is a style or strategy used by politicians to appeal to the majority of the population, by addressing significant grievances in society and broadening their demographic. An accessible example is UKIP; by utilising the concern of immigration throughout the UK, the party were able to advocate the Vote Leave campaign and succeed in the UK’s withdrawal from the EU. There is growing debate as to whether US President Donald Trump is a Populist: with his inclusive attitude to a common goal to “make America great again” juxtaposed with his extreme anti- immigration, low taxation and deregulation, it blurs the lines between Trump’s populist and elitist essence.

trump 2The famous line “make America great again” gave the common voter a buzz. Fuelled by the significant patriotism in the USA, this tagline resonated heavily with the common man and essentially won Trump the election. In my opinion, this phrase is one of the greatest examples of populist propaganda in recent years. Through the vague language, the approach to making America great is malleable and morphs to suit each voter accordingly, without actually unveiling Trump’s approach to the endeavour. Greatness differs from person to person, but manages to blur the lines between each minority group and create a society with an inclusive façade. I am sure that when just under 30% of Hispanic voters voted for Trump, they did not anticipate the President to attempt to build a wall between the US and Mexico. That’s just the genius of it; no one actually knew how Trump would make America great again, but still believed he would.

At a glance, Trump seems to favour the social elite with significant tax cuts and deregulation policies. This being said, other groups in society have been addressed amongst Trump’s policies through the protection for entitlements for the elderly and a claimed promise of a free- market system to universal healthcare in response to repealing Obamacare. Instead of taking a traditional populist approach by being a centrist solution to popular grievances, Trump has taken extreme pledges to appeal to a broad range of societal groups, to once again give a populist façade. The reality is that it is near impossible to appease both the working class and elite simultaneously and completely, especially with harshly Conservative policies the Republican Party present

trump 1

Moreover, it cannot be ignored that Trump did not actually gain the popular vote in the 2016 Presidential Election. This arouses the debate whether Trump attempted populism and abandoned it when he did not obtain support from the majority, or whether he never had the intention of appealing to the “common man” in the first place.

To conclude: Trump is not a populist and he never was. The endorsement of hatred from celebrities, demonstrations throughout the world against his Presidency, it seems to me he has more enemies than friends. Furthermore, it is one thing making claims and advocating the interests of the working class, but has the President actually done anything to help? With his tactical “make America great again”, Trump has injected the West with an elitist hunger, far from populism.

Angel Witney


Life So Far Volume 01

Much like many other young adults my early life was a blur, but not for the same reasons. All of my experiences as a young child have been verbally passed on second hand, told by my parents. It is through these vision-like memories, seeming more like movie scenes than actual memories, that I have accumulated an identity for my past and heritage.

My Mum was engaged to my Dad when she was 16; a common wedding gift in my culture being gold and golden jewellery. She gave birth to my sister at 18 years old and had me a year later. It was at this time my Mum was forced to sell all of her golden wedding gifts to fund a full-fledged immigration attempt, completely uprooting her life at an age almost identical to mine. That was when the life familiar to me now began, being brought to the UK at a measly 30 days old.

I remind myself of this tale as I try to reconnect to my home country’s culture, and as I try to claw through the mist and establish my ethnic identity. In both the country my family found refuge, and the land I am native to, I am deemed a ‘foreigner’. I struggled with the acceptance of my cultural persona, provoking me to reject my heritage at a younger age; telling people England was my birthplace, totally in denial of my true ethnicity. I am still unsure whether this attitude was motivated by the repeated racism I encountered or simply the disconnection I felt towards my parents’ culture.

I was constantly surrounded by racism. Digesting racist slurs and even multiple physical attacks became a normality, and all due to my Middle Eastern origin. I began to hate where I was from, and refused to converse with my parents in their native language. This proved divisive due to both my parents’ weak grasp of English and the hurtful truth that their son did not embrace his Arabic culture. Alternatively, my sisters exercised their Arabic origins with pride, widening the divide and lack of cohesion between myself, my parents and their heritage. I was poisoned by the racism I had endured and immersed myself in the false reality that my Middle Eastern culture was wrong because it was ‘un-British’. It is still on my guilty conscience that I had attacked and blamed my parents for simply being who they are.

This racist reality began to fade as I found more accepting friends, and those exercising the racism were expelled from my life through school exclusion, prison sentences, leg tags- that kind of thing. It had become apparent that all of the people who had been intolerant of mine and my family’s ethnicity had ultimately become failures; this being an extremely self- expressive symbol in my life.

It was finally with my new group of friends and the eradication of the root cause of my racist trauma that I actually started enjoying life. I played drums in a band, fell in love with writing poetry and became interested in pursuing girls for the first time in my life. I am not sure whether these things were a catalyst for my new-found self confidence, or vice versa, but I know that it was at this point, between the ages of 14 and 16, that I made the most progress in moulding myself into the person I am today. My whole life revolved around partying and having sex with girls, whilst trying to build some sort of subliminal self-image and persona that I desired to project. It may seem dull that these were my main priorities, but in actuality, they were the best years of my life.

Whilst I was growing this self-mastered persona, my home life consisted of debating Middle Eastern politics with my Dad, deeply interested in the implications of the war in our native country. This is when my undying love for politics and foreign affairs was birthed; a love that has stayed with me throughout the rest of my life.

After achieving good GCSE results and making bonds with lifelong friends, it seemed that my life was thriving, and I finally had a feeling of belonging that I had never really experienced in my life. Contrarily, my family life began to slowly deteriorate, as my parents fought daily over my Dad’s actions and their financial situation.

As the failure of my parents’ relationship became more apparent to me, I began to rewrite the hazy naïve memoirs of my Mum and Dad as loving soulmates, that one conjures up as a young child, and realised the true nature of their relationship. When my family first immigrated to the UK, my Dad studied English followed by a vocation as a chef, which he later used to open his own restaurant. Meanwhile, my Mum, in her late 20s had to grasp English from next door neighbours and her own children, the only money she had was what was Dad gave access to her, and she did not know how to drive. With a more mature mind, I can recognise that my Mum felt trapped; being with a man that cheated on her, being responsible for three children with no job or money of her own.

It seemed like mine and my sisters’ independence and maturity correlated with that of my Mum’s, as she rose from the ashes and worked to pay for herself to study at college, made new friends and saved up to purchase her own car. My Mum is my lifelong role model without a doubt, overcoming so many hardships and eventually finding a job as a newscaster and moving me and my sisters to London. This was where my life as I come to know it now, truly began.

As discussed before, my life previous to moving to London revolved simply around going to gigs and parties with friends and talking to girls. It was not until after I moved down South that I truly learnt what struggle meant, not only from experiencing it myself, but also by seeing those around me struggle. To exacerbate my position, I was in a terribly abusive relationship for 4 months just after I moved to London and attended one of the worst colleges in the city.

My confident nature stuck with me from my previous home, and I started college wide eyed and seeking friends instantly. I planned to stick by the first people to show friendliness, and these people just so happened to be drug dealers, killers and fraudsters. They would stare me down every time I got lunch, their eyes following me until I left. This was a usual occurrence until one day I answered a phone call from my Mum in Arabic, to which one of the boys interrupted with arms outstretched exclaiming “Ahhhh you’re one of us brother I didn’t know you were Arab! We were planning on robbing you we thought you were some white boy”. Despite being scarily backhanded, this was one of the first experiences where my Arabic heritage had been viewed as a positive, which gave me a comforting warmth and made me ardently stick with these people.

I changed a lot in the next few months; my style altered, my music taste differed, I began to try drugs (something I was always starkly against), even the way I spoke became more typically ‘London-ised’. Spending every day with my newfound friends soon revealed their true selves. I would remark that I was hungry and they’d buy pizza for the entire class. I would express my dislike for someone and they would all threaten to attack them on their way home. I’d be invited to what I thought was a house party, which actually proved to be held at huge apartments in central London, rented for two nights for nonstop parties and then abandoned. People were genuinely afraid of us and would attempt to join our ‘friendship group’, which I soon realised was a gang.

This group of boys saw each other as a family, something that really gelled with me due to my previous difficulties feeling like I belonged to a family. This is when I was ‘brought in’ to make money with them. The dealers of the gang offered me drugs to sell with them on a weekly basis. It was the fraudsters who I had become closest with due to a mutual love of fashion; they offered to teach me how to execute fraud in order to make money, which was the path I chose. A brief summary of it was that everyone had a ‘line’ which often meant people would call me asking me to buy things for them at a drastically cheaper price, in return I got paid by them for committing the fraud. This uncomplicated, unfatiguing service bought me anything I wanted: the best nights out, coolest clothes and food whenever and wherever I wanted. However, the most significant outcome for me was that I got to pay my Mum’s rent under the guise of a bar job I had quit after a month. Everything seemed to be going well, until the reality of these crimes started to become apparent.

One of the fraudsters I was friends with got caught and imprisoned for 7 years. I witnessed another boy I knew get stabbed as I was waving him goodbye on a bus in Acton. I went from being bullied every day and being seen as weak, to viewing true weakness. 19 year old boys from estates losing their entire futures over money and conflicts. It was after one of my closest friends was stabbed in a barbershop in West London the other boys in the gang sat me down, gave me a knife and said “he was your boy you have to do it or they’ll fuck you too”. That was when it all hit me. The life I had been living and loving for the past year was sugar coated with the money and parties, providing a veil from this reality. My reality. By default, I had immersed myself in crime and murder despite my innocent intentions. I don’t think that feeling will ever leave me, and has provoked me to develop a deeply rooted scepticism of everyone I meet. Even people I know in my heart are good, I struggle not to distance myself slightly. It might be due to the shock realisation that my so called friends were in fact criminals, or the experience of true cold-blooded murder that has moulded me this way, or maybe both, or perhaps I’m still dealing with it. My intentions were merely to make money and have fun. I left that knife on the chicken shop table and haven’t spoken to most of those boys since that day.

I am now moving out to my own place, was the only one in my entire group of friends that has made it to university, I’ve revitalised old relationships and worked in a challenging, interesting job all summer. Life is moving fast, I’m growing up, but new experiences shape you for the better, and that’s my life so far.

Artist of the Week: Liv Jarman

I feel that photography is an escape from the real world for me. I can capture people through the beauty I see them in.”

liv 5

Liv Jarman is an inspiring young portrait photographer from Birmingham that is currently exploring different aspects of photography. At the age of 17, Liv has done photography around 6 years in and outside school, as well as currently studying art.

“The one thing that I truly value about photography or any art form is that there are no boundaries for what you can do with it.”


Liv was surprisingly inspired by the modelling industry to start photography.

“I found it compelling and captivating how photographers such as David Bailey and Corinne Day captured the purity and gracefulness of the models.”

Liv hopes to study photography at Manchester university next year.

Find Liv on twitter @livv4everr for more of her work.

Nolan’s Dunkirk

I sat down in the cinema on a dreary afternoon with a tube of Pringles and Dr Pepper from Tesco, because as if I am going to spend a fiver on popcorn and diluted Pespsi. I was surprised that my friend and I were the only audience members under the age of 50; it then struck me that not everyone had come to see Dunkirk for the beautiful young male cast, but in fact for the infamous story.

The film explores the evacuation of soldiers during World War II from the beaches and harbour of Dunkirk, in the north of France, between 26 May and 4 June 1940. Christopher Nolan adopts this heroic tale and intertwines all attributes to this tremendous success by showing the evacuation from the point of view of the Air force, British civilians and soldiers. The fluid interchange between each narrative voice was beautiful, and portrayed the cohesive efforts of the evacuation perfectly. Furthermore, the various storylines mirrored each other in their emotional journey by having everything go sour crescendo into a universal triumph. This embellished the audience’s emotional journey and created the intense atmosphere.


Not only was the concept infamous, the cast was pretty impressive too. Britain’s much-loved Tom Hardy presents the role of a spitfire fighter, encompassing both the focus and fear of a World War Two pilot. These were the most aesthetic scenes to watch; with their extreme realism, I genuinely forgot it was not real flight footage. Mark Rylance is always a treat to see on the big screen. His portrayal of a humble Englishman sailing to Dunkirk beach was as moving as it was engaging, especially his scenes with Cilian Murphy’s washed up shell-shocked soldier, where we see the brutally honest repercussions of war. Harry Styles’ movie debut was more impressive than anticipated as he presents a British soldier alongside the film’s protagonist Fionn Whitehead,  where we see the youth of some of the war’s victims.

Nolan presented the atmosphere of war beautifully with lengthy silences and minimal dialogue between characters, contrasted with the overpowering sounds of gun shots and bombs. This dichotomy kept the audience engaged and on the edge of their seat throughout. My favourite aspect of the film was how the cinematics communicated the story without requiring copious amounts of speech; the dreary grey sky, rocky waters and vast open stretch of land presented the chill of isolation. Moreover, Harry Styles eating jam on toast was really a sight to behold.


The soundtrack to the film mirrors the intensity perfectly. With rapid string overtures over the film’s energetic scenes, everything seemed so incredibly heightened and added to the realism of Dunkirk. The classic orchestral flavours mirrored the film’s context and immersed us into the historic quality of the storyline. Similarly, the simplicity of the background music did not overpower the picture at all, and complimented the ambiguous, tense vibe Dunkirk amplified.

My favourite part of the film had to be (and yes, spoiler alert) the end shot of Tom Hardy standing next to his ablaze spitfire, facing the German front as they dragged him away. It was honestly heart breaking to see the reality that the war’s heroes sacrificed themselves for their country.

By the time the movie had ended I was in awe. I really was not expecting the film to emotionally affect me as much as it did, not to mention those around me in the cinema. The whole audience was in floods of tears and applause, truly a breath taking piece of cinema and an insanely heroic story.

Angel Witney



Artist of the Week: Grace Patey

“In a nutshell my work is self obsessed and pretentious. I think it’s important to always think you’re the coolest person in the room and I’ve worked very hard at manifesting this because as all work is a form of self portraiture I can’t see why anyone would want to look at anything that wasn’t the hippest most happenin’ piece in the gallery.”
Sex, drugs and rock ’n’ roll is a part of it, self discovery and personal growth is another but Grace’s main aim is to document his experiences as they happen in some kind of language that only resonates with himself, that no one else will ever fully understand.
“I’d be lying if I said I even knew the full extent of what my work means, not until months later at least.”
gravce 9
“Manet’s painting of Olympia was a massive turning point for my work, the idea of this secret handshake that has passed from artist to artist for centuries which then in turn prompted the same running theme with The Kiss – and even more recently The Thinker, gave many, many works some elite high culture snobbery to them and I wanted in.”
Grace is quite the fan of Banksy’s Picasso slab which reads something along the lines of ‘the good artists borrow but the great artists steal.’
grace 8
“The universe likes to play with me, and I only entertain it. There’s a time and a place for heart wrenching work but I’m not one to dwell on negativity, but I’d like to think my work keeps people on their toes because I am the universe and I am laughing at you in the same way the universe is laughing at me.”
Find more of Grace’s work on her website https://youthpleasure.wixsite.com/gracepateyartist