Frankenstein: What makes it a Gothic Novel?One of the most important aspects of any gothic novel is setting. Mary Shellys Frankenstein is an innovative and disturbing work thatweaves a tale of passion, misery, dread, and remorse. Shelly reveals thestory of a mans thirst for knowledge which leads to a monstrous creationthat goes against the laws of nature and natural order. The man, VictorFrankenstein, in utter disgust, abandons his creation who is shunned byall of mankind yet still feels and yearns for love.
The monster then seeksrevenge for his life of loneliness and misery. The setting can bring aboutthese feelings of short-lived happiness, loneliness, isolation, and despair. Shellys writing shows how the varied and dramatic settings ofFrankenstein can create the atmosphere of the novel and can also causeor hinder the actions of Frankenstein and his monster as they go on theirseemingly endless chase where the pursuer becomes the pursued.
Darkly dramatic moments and the ever-so-small flashes ofhappiness stand out. The setting sets the atmosphere and creates themood.
The dreary night of November (Shelly 42) where the monster isgiven life, remains in the memory. And that is what is felt throughoutthe novel-the dreariness of it all along with the desolate isolation. Yetthere were still glimpses of happiness in Shellys vivid pictures of thegrand scenes among Frankenstein- the thunderstorm of the Alps, thevalleys of Servox and Chamounix, the glacier and the precipitous sides ofMontanvert, and the smoke of rushing avalanches, the tremendous domeof Mont Blanc (Goldberg 277) and on that last journey with Elizabethwhich were his last moments of happiness. The rest goes along with themelodrama of the story. Shelly can sustain the mood and create adistinct picture and it is admirable the way she begins to foreshadowcoming danger. Shelly does this by starting a terrible storm, addingdreary thunder and lightning and by enhancing the gloom and dread ofher gothic scenes. Shelly writes so that the reader sees and feels thesescenes taking permanent hold on the memory. Furthermore, the setting can greatly impact the actions in a novelsuch as this. Frankensteins abhorred creation proclaims that: thedesert mountains and dreary glaciers are my refuge. I have wanderedhere many days; the caves of ice which I only do not fear, are a dwellingto me, and the only one which man does not grudge (Shelly 84). Thepitiful creature lives in places where man cannot go for reason that thetemperatures and dangers of these settings are too extreme. But nearthe end, Frankensteins rage takes him all over the world in an obsessedsearch for his doppelganger enduring terrible hardships, which themonster, too, has endured. Frankenstein pursues his creation to theArtic wastes, revenge being the only thing keeping him alive. This servesonly to thicken the strange darkness that surrounds and engulfs them(Nitchie 274). Here it seems as if Frankenstein may finally capture hisadversary, but nature thinks otherwise. The monster tempts his enragedcreator through a world of ice and the setting becomes a hindrance asthe wind arose; the sea roared; and, as with the mighty shock of anearthquake; it split and cracked with a tremendous and overwhelmingsound. the work was soon finished; in a few minutes a tumuluous searolled between me and my enemy (Shelly 191). Because of this gothicsetting amid the Artic ice floes, the despair hits both Frankenstein andthe reader. So Frankenstein, Mary Shellys strange and disturbing talepersonifies the gothic novel. With her compelling writing, she creates thesetting that sets the gloomy mood and causes as well as hinders actionscreating dramatic tension. The entire story is mysteriously set in thecold Artic which adds to the dark and foreboding atmosphere. Frankenstein pursues his monster there, fails to destroy him, and diesappropriately in the cold of the Artic that matches the cold of his heart. Likewise, Frankensteins monster dies on his own terms, springing to hisice raft, borne away by the waves and lost in darkness and distance(Shelly 206).
2. Shelly, Mary. Frankenstein. Bantam Books. New York, New York.c1991Category: English
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