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How does the language used in the letters and the first two chapters of Mary Shelley's 'Frankenstein' reflect it's gothic genre?

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Introduction

How does the language used in the letters and the first two chapters of Mary Shelley's 'Frankenstein' reflect it's gothic genre? The gothic genre was popular around the nineteenth century. It is often associated with dark, evil things and death. This seemed appropriate at the time as there were no electric lights or televisions so it was generally darker than it is in the present day. It brings to mind stories like Frankenstein, Dracula and Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde. It may have been popular at this time because it is typically based about ominous things in dark places making it seem more realistic because of the use of candles at the time. I am focussing on the beginning of 'Frankenstein' and observing how his dreams drove him to his own destruction, and how he is left to destroy the monster which he created. Robert Walton, an explorer travelling through the icy wasteland of the North Pole, sees the monster and is suddenly overwhelmed by his evil presence, he then finds Frankenstein, almost dead and consumed by the coldness of the bitter environment. Victor comes with his warning, and his story, as he explains just what a dream can lead to. ...read more.

Middle

We see Walton's growing obsession with Frankenstein as he says "he excites both at once my admiration and pity to an astonishing degree". He tells his sister that Frankenstein is "much recovered from his illness and is constantly on the deck, apparently watching for the sledge that preceded his own." He describes how Frankenstein is constantly in search of the monster and how determined he is to find the monster at all costs, probably because he has nothing left to give and all he has to gain is revenge against the monster for taking from his all he had once loved. The last part of the letter is Frankenstein's warning to Walton, and his promise to tell him his story, which brings us into the chapters. The horror of the story is gradually built up throughout the letters and leads into the chapters quite well. This structure of the book is very typical of the gothic genre. The beginning of Chapter One is about Frankenstein's father before he had children and when he met Caroline, Frankenstein's mother. Frankenstein was born in Naples and spent the first years of his life travelling in Europe. His parents saw him as a gift, and treated him as such. ...read more.

Conclusion

We can see Frankenstein's warning becoming clearer because he made the same mistake as Walton did. Using the comparison between Frankenstein and his father his father, Shelley makes the story very appropriate to the traditions of the time, sons taking after fathers. Also, the simple catalyst for the breakdown of a character is very common in gothic horror. Towards the end of chapter 2 Frankenstein describes a violent thunderstorm, and he specifically describes a beautiful oak tree which was struck by lightning and suddenly destroyed, "...on a sudden I beheld a stream of fire issue from an old and beautiful oak which stood about twenty yards from our house; and no soon as the dazzling light vanished, the oak had disappeared". This is like an instantaneous representation of Frankenstein's life, a beautiful beginning and then a sudden turning point leading to a horrible end. It also represents the gothic genre with the idea of a wonderful life being taking by an evil force, using the thunderstorm as a metaphor for the destructive force that takes such light and innocence from the world. Many elements of the gothic genre are apparent in the letters and first two chapters and even though the reader knows what happens to Frankenstein in the end, they are compelled to read about his life and what drove him to become what he is when Walton finds him. ...read more.

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