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How does Mary Shelley use Gothic elements to explore deeper issues in Chapter Five

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Introduction

Frankenstein Essay: How does Mary Shelley use Gothic elements to explore deeper issues in Chapter Five? The Gothic Horror novel is a literary genre which began to flourish in Britain during the 18th century. It is a type of novel that deals with events that generally question the boundaries that separate the socially acceptable from the unacceptable, often exploring the themes of good and evil along the way. Prominent features of this genre are typically desolate or remote settings, with violent, mysterious and macabre incidents taking place. The use of such devices usually leads to an observing of the margins between what is human, and what is monstrous, supernatural and inhumane. This allows the genre to delve into subjects that are frequently regarded as taboo. Mary Shelley's 'Frankenstein' is a classic example of a Gothic Horror novel; it uses almost all of the above conventions, and resultantly explores one of the fiercest debates of morality: cloning, which, during the era in which Frankenstein was written, would have been a prohibited issue. Chapter Five uses many Gothic elements in order to depict the intensity of the issue that it explores; it is the chapter in which Victor Frankenstein brings his Creation to life, and consequently is the chapter that brings about the eventual destruction of Frankenstein. From the opening paragraph of this chapter, we get a sense of the gloominess that is manifest throughout: firstly, Shelley sets the scene in a typically eerie environment; it is on a 'dreary night [at] one in the morning' that the event occurs, as the 'rain patters dismally against the panes.' ...read more.

Middle

The reader's fear of the monster is further consolidated with the way that Victor reacts towards his Creation. Victor rejects his Creation because of the way he looks; he is filled with 'breathless horror' and rushes 'out of the room.' This could either influence the reader in the way that they emulate Victor's reaction, or that they feel he is irresponsible; we see that Victor runs away from his problems, instead of facing up to them. This shows that he has not planned for anything to go wrong; he is foolish, and too obsessed with his goal to consider the consequences. Victor's state of mind of late is also a typical one used in Gothic novels; Victor seems to be going insane, as that night he is 'unable to compose [his] mind to sleep,' and when he finally does fall asleep, he is 'disturbed by the wildest of dreams.' His mind is very troubled, and he states that he 'worked hard for nearly two years...deprived myself of rest and health.' He has overcome basic human needs, like food and rest: this creates a sense of the unnatural, as it is not normal to deprive oneself from such necessities merely for the sake of work. This element of the novel is strongly gothic, as it relates to the idea of a living nightmare. Shelley here is portraying the dangers of obsession, and the fact that man cannot create man with ease. Victor has succeeded in creating man; however, he has had to sacrifice many basic requirements in order to achieve his goal. ...read more.

Conclusion

This portrays the classic battle between good and evil: good always defeats evil, as is shown when, later on in the novel, Victor starts to regret his choice. By the end of the chapter, Victor's frame of mind is just as unstable as ever; 'the form of the monster on whom I had bestowed existence was forever before my eyes.' The Creation haunts Victor wherever he turns, showing how he has developed a nervous complex. This unstableness of his mind is eerie in itself. It depicts the fragility of the human mind, and is quite frightening to imagine. Shelley arguably presents Victor as more loathsome than the Creation in this chapter, as it is Victor that is the coward, in running away from his own creation. Victor also abandons his family in order to pursue his goal of bringing a human to life: the Creation does not do this. The Creation 'reaches out' for Victor, searching for a friendly response. In fact, it is Victor who rejects the Creation. Shelley here could be referring to the responsibility that parents have in accordance to their children; Victor abandons his 'child,' and never shows regret for the way he treats it. Throughout this chapter, Shelley presents many warnings involving the responsibility of a parent towards its child, and uses gothic conventions in order to convey this. She also gives warnings about the dangers of playing God; such warnings are relevant even today: modern science and parental responsibilities still apply in the modern world. All of the events that occur throughout the novel, and particularly in chapter five, are that of a supernatural nature. ...read more.

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