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  • Level: GCSE
  • Subject: English
  • Essay length: 1639 words

In which respects is "Frankenstein" a Gothic novel in close Reference to subject; theme; language and style?

Extracts from this essay...

Introduction

In which respects is "Frankenstein" a Gothic novel in close Reference to subject; theme; language and style? Literary Gothicism is a type of imitation of medievalism launched in the later eighteenth century. Gothicism featured accounts of terrifying experiences in ancient castles - experiences connected with subterranean dungeons, secret passageways, flickering lamps, screams, moans, bloody hands, ghosts, graveyards etc. By extension, it came to designate the macabre, mysterious, fantastic, supernatural, and, again, the terrifying, especially the pleasurably terrifying, in literature more generally. The Castle of Otranto (1764) is a very good example of Gothic literature, it is a short novel in which the ingredients are a haunted castle, a villain, mysterious deaths, supernatural happenings, a moaning ancestral painting, a damsel in distress and violent emotions of terror, anguish and love. Frankenstein in this way doesn't fit in to the Gothic genre. Frankenstein is not set in the typical desolate settings that are distinctive in Gothic novels but are set in very human surroundings i.e. in the family hone, University of Ingelstadt. Mary Shelly's Frankenstein focuses more on the dangers of science and the reactions of people in extreme circumstances than of the mysteries of the supernatural. Although it doesn't have the supernatural story line set in a decaying castle it does play upon the emotions of fear, anguish and love and does tell a fantastic yet terrifying story, so in these respects fits into the Gothic genre.

Middle

If the atmosphere and setting was not set, the reader would not feel involved and therefore will not be so effected by the climax e.g. a murder, or encounter with a spectre etc. A very effective way of setting the scene and adding to the haunting atmosphere is the description of weather. In Frankenstein whenever there is an encounter with the monster or the loss of the love one the weather is always at extremity. When Victor Frankenstein is back in Geneva and sees the monster there is a tremendous storm, "the darkness and storm increased every minute and the thunder burst with a terrific crash over my head". Before there is any mention of the creation we are told about the storm, making us aware something is going to happen. This builds up the tension and lets the reader enter the world in which the story is occurring making the experience the more terrifying. The use of bad weather in Gothic novels is very common, and as Frankenstein shares the technique of building a scene with weather then it can fall into the genre of Gothic. The intention to create a spine-chilling scene is also present in Frankenstein again making it a Gothic novel.

Conclusion

This is what makes Frankenstein such a spine-chilling tale because it says that you don't have to be in isolated haunted surroundings to feel terror. You can be in your natural environment and the real haunting comes from within. Mary Shelley doesn't let her story escalate to the point where all are dead or the mystery is solved. She builds up her story by letting her main antagonist (Victor Frankenstein) slip away in his own self-pity, self-hatred, abhorrence for the creature, disparity for loosing his family and his never relenting guilt. Perhaps without knowing it or purposefully Mary Shelley ends with a moral, that men should take responsibility for the things they create and that knowledge isn't always a good thing. Mary Shelley's Frankenstein is a Gothic novel in some respects of language, style, subject and theme but differs in them too. She takes parts of these aspects from other Gothic novels and has built her own horror story including psychology, relationships, science and the concept of alienation. What sets Frankenstein apart from the rest is that it still has the same sensationalism but includes aspects of typical life. You get the feeling it could happen but she then adds that fantasy guise so you are comforted (that it couldn't happen to you), intrigued and terrified because you are emerged into the plot.

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