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Mary Shelley's "Frankenstein"

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Pre 1914 Prose Study Mary Shelley's "Frankenstein" How Does Mary Shelley Build up a Sense of Horror in chapter five Mary Shelley's Frankenstein was published in 1818 and falls under the category of gothic novel which means in contains paranormal events that incite horror in the reader. At the time the book was written and published scientific advancement was very much in the news and scientist fantasised about bringing the dead back to life. An 18th century anatomist and physician name Luigi Galvani experimented of reviving dead frogs limbs using electricity with experiments at the University of Bologna. The origins of the purpose of writing the novel stems from when Lord Byron asked a group of friends to write a short ghost story. Shelley had writers block for a few days, yet after the group discussed a subject in de Stael's De l'Allemagne: "whether the principle of life could be discovered and whether scientists could galvanize a corpse of manufactured humanoid" the plot of Frankenstein came to her in a night terror. The following morning she awoke and started to write the opening lines of chapter four "It was on a dreary night in November". I hope to explore how she builds up a sense of horror in chapter five by analysing key writing features such as language, contrast and fluctuating emotions. ...read more.


But in a unexpected fit of anger Frankenstein abandons the project, the Monster kills Clerval in revenge and Victor is imprisoned in Ireland for it. He is shortly realised after he is found innocent when he marries Elizabeth who is killed on their wedding night by the monster. Victor is distraught and vows to kill the very thing he gave life to, he chases his creation all over Europe and Russia. He nearly succeeds in catching it at the North Pole where Captain Walton rescues him. Exhausted he die and Frankenstein's monster vows to kill himself before disappearing into the "distance and darkness". Chapter five begins with Victor Frankenstein revulsion of the monster he has created and Shelley describes the creature's vile features that shriek terror into the reader alone. In revolt Victor leaves the room at the very disgust of what he was brought into this world and attempts to gain his precious "sanctuary of sleep". While he sleeps he dreams of seeing Elizabeth his one love, however as he plants his first kiss on her lips her features change and he appears to eventually hold the dead corpse of his dead mother. He wakes up to find the monster by his bedside peering at him and in anguish runs out of his rented apartment and through the town with paranoid strides fearing he will see the monster at every turn. ...read more.


This brings me to my final point of Mary Shelley's use of fluctuating emotions to provoke the sense of fear in the reader. Frankenstein expects a beautiful creature to be born of his labour, yet is shocked when he unveils his creation for the first time " How can I describe my emotions at this catastrophe". Horror soon sets in at the monstrosity and almost failure of his dream sets in "But now that I have I have finished the beauty of the dream of the dream has vanished and breathless horror and disgust fill my heart". This quickly turns to frightened " I did not dare return to the apartment" , again his emotions fluctuate to a paranoid loneliness "Like one when on a lonely road, Doth walk in fear" and finally a huge contrast for the previous emotions to happiness " I felt suddenly...calm and serene joy". Shelley fluctuates Frankenstein's emotions so rapidly is almost becomes difficult to follow them, yet perhaps this is the desired effect as the confusion only adds the horror you are reading. To conclude, Mary Shelley one of the greatest female novelist of her time if not history efficiently and captivatingly uses techniques, which are still used today in writing. They are not restricted to but she certainly chooses over others mainly are predominately gothic elements; common of early 19th century "romance" authors. She also makes use of the fluctuating emotions, contrast and language as I have described in earlier paragraphs. Benjamin Semens ...read more.

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