Through the presentation of the eponym’s laboratory, Shelley leaves the reader in revulsion at the horrific workings of Dr Frankenstein. We learn of the narrators “filthy workshop of creation” as well as the ‘vaults and charnel houses’ he frequents in order to obtain ‘filthy’ materials. Victors description of this setting in which he bestows animation to lifeless matter evokes clinical connotations, his considerations underplays the heinous acts performed within it. His description of the “intricacies of fibres, muscles and veins” reveal the sanguine nature of the task and intricacies suggests a delicate operation. Most important is Frankenstein’s reaction to his surroundings, for his “limbs tremble” and his eyes “swim with remembrance”. Evidently Shelley aims to ‘curdle the blood and quicken the beatings of the heart’, through the presentation of horror which Gothic literature engages by exploring physical decay through images of death; ghosts, and cemeteries. In this instance the product of the workshop poses a threat to Frankenstein, evident through the imbalance of his psychological equilibrium as he invokes Rime of the Ancient mariner: “Doth close behind him tread”. Thus the workshop qualifies the Gothic criteria by introducing horror, and his work reveals a danger, as Frankenstein believes the monster will terrorise him, having animated him.
However Romantic values are evident in the presentation of the workshop, as it is a representation of a grand scientific achievement, satiating Dr Frankenstein’s “ardent desire” to acquire knowledge by “penetrating into the recess of nature”. Arguably the pursuit of knowledge outweighs Frankenstein’s repugnance at this creation as we learn an “impulse urges him forward” and he displays an “eagerness” to bring his work to a conclusion, by applying Galvani’s theory. Shelley appears to blur the notion of the sublime that it can appear from the most unlikely of sources. Yet this interpretation is not fully justified and it does not equate to Frankenstein’s warning to Walton, “learn from me...how dangerous is the acquirement of knowledge”. Shelley’s voice perhaps is being heard, condoning the ambitious romantic values. Undoubtedly however, as with Walton’s letters, Shelley intelligently intertwines Romantic values, altruism, with Gothic ones. In effect creating her own Gothic genre. Thus leaving the reader in fascination briefly and later in revulsion.
Domestic settings, like the De Lacy’s property, introduce Gothic notion of binary forces. The presentation of the cottage represents the peaceful solitude of agrarian life, although the monster notices their unhappiness, these amiable cottagers symbolise the normalcy of human society. In contrast the monster cannot possibly integrate with the family for both his appearance and flawed human prejudice do not permit so. The monsters irrevocable wretchedness is emphasised by Safie’s interaction with the family, who despite being associated with her double dealing father, ironically is welcomed by the family and past grievances are set aside. The crevice to which Frankenstein learn, arguably symbolises the fact Frankenstein will never share the perspective of the human life.
This dichotomy can be read as a political allegory of the French revolution, where the bourgeoisie are clearly defined against the revolutionary proletariat, thus the monster is alluded to as the revolutionary figure, who being frustrated with his inability to integrate with humanity, seeks methods of violence to avenge his alienation, hence the burning of the cottage, and hence why Punch magazine presented the monster as the revolting Irish against the English in the 1880s. Dichotomy is not purely political, the Gothic arguably revolves around the binary forces of good and evil (Harker and his companions fight against the Slavic vampire), between natural and supernatural and monster and non-monster. The notion of dichotomy is thus introduced, but yet again romantic values are deemed futile, in that the monster, having aspired to be with the family, remains isolated and alien to his surroundings.
Woodland settings also contribute to the Gothic effect as they embody the place of destruction. William dies at the monsters hands and is the first victim of his violent crusade against humanity. It is also, for Victor, a location of mystery, having been away in Ingolstadt we learn that the monster is sighted from behind “a clump of trees near him”. The use of rhetorical questions, speculating the monsters responsibility for his death, immediately creates tension: “What did him there?” Could he be…?”. The forest also explores the evil within humanity, as William hurls insulting epithets to the monster for his looks, calling him “ogre” and “hideous monster”. This evil among humanity is reflected in the prejudice of humanity even before William is murdered, as whilst roaming in the woods, the monsters benevolence of saving a drowning girl at a river is rewarded by a gunshot which agonies the monster and obliges the readers sympathy. Thus Shelley through the presentation of the woods blurs the binary of good and evil between humanity and the monster, through the portrayal of evil humans, which incurs the supernatural wrath of the monster. This parallels to Wuthering Heights in which the evil among humanity nurtures Heathcliff into a monstrous usurper.
To conclude, Shelley intertwines Romantic and Gothic elements to her settings, but fundamentally each setting has a common Gothic trait, in that it reveals a danger or threat; an essential criteria for the Gothic genre. In each place, rest and escape from the extreme is futile.