A gothic novel carries a typical story focused on the sufferings imposed on an innocent heroine by a cruel and lustful villain. Several characteristics include: large quantities, use of ghosts, mysterious disappearances and other sensational and supernatural occurrences. A Gothic Novel is a story in which supernatural terrors and an atmosphere of mysterious horror infiltrates the action. Often, the setting is dark and menacing, to reflect the mood of the novel. The principle purpose of any gothic novel is to evoke terror by exploiting mystery and variety of horrors.
All of these qualities can be applied to Mary Shelly’s novel, “Frankenstein. ” Frankenstein is a good example of a gothic novel which carries all above mentioned elements of a gothic novel. One of the innocent heroines of the novel is Elizabeth Lavenza, Frankenstein’s wife. She is an innocent character. On the very day of the honeymoon of Victor Frankenstein and Elizabeth Lavenza the cruel monster kills her without any pity and sympathy towards her. So here, the monster has been presented as the villain of the protagonist’s happiness.
It is the most striking element of any gothic novel which is completely applied in this novel; Frankenstein. Around the time when “Frankenstein” was being written, science had been advancing rapidly and there had been numerous stories being told associating electricity with the key to bringing something to life. We can understand this when Frankenstein says, “I collected the instruments of life around me, that I might infuse a spark of being into the lifeless thing that lay at my feet.
While creating the monster, Frankenstein became obsessed with verging deeper into the world of science than anyone had ever gone before – “I entered the diligence into the search of the philosopher’s stone and the elixir of life…’ However, “Frankenstein,” can be considered a gothic novel because it is a mysterious entertainment for the reader as to it being strictly about science. Although “Frankenstein” portrays some elements of a science fiction novel, the elements the story contains from a gothic novel are far more relevant than those of science fiction.
The novel is about Victor Frankenstein, who discovers the secret of how to create life. Frankenstein carefully assembled body parts of human corpses in the hope of creating something beautiful. But on the contrary, he creates a monster that disgusts him. Rejected by his maker and society, the monster vows revenge on the human race, and more importantly, his creator – “I vowed eternal hatred and vengeance to all mankind”. One of the common characteristics of a gothic novel is the lonely frightening settings. Frankenstein” is no exception. Mary Shelley uses these settings to emphasize the solitude and isolation from people the monster feels. We can see how isolated the monster feels when he says, “The desert mountains and dreary glaciers are my refuge. I have wandered here many days; the caves of ice, which I only do not fear, are a dwelling to me, and the only one which man does not grudge. ” The setting is an important factor in a gothic novel.
It can convey feelings of short-lived happiness, loneliness, isolation, and despair. Shelly’s writing shows how the varied and dramatic settings of “Frankenstein” can create an atmosphere of suspense and horror because of its gloomy and dark presence. The setting sets the atmosphere and creates the mood. The “dreary night of November” arrays the tone of the setting in the beginning on the novel. The setting also creates the mood of the novel.
In “Frankenstein,” the setting was mostly dark which is what the story was set around, the darkness. Dreams and visions are another common trait in a gothic novel. After creating the monster, Frankenstein falls into a troubled sleep, and dreams about holding Elizabeth, but while kissing her she turned into the corpse of his dead mother – “but as I imprinted the first kiss on her lips, they became livid with the hue of death…”This dream of Frankenstein’s gives the reader a sense of foreboding of the death and heartbreak to come.
It also used Elizabeth turning into a corpse, to symbolize how the monster will progress to be evil. The third essential element of any gothic novel is arousing terror with horrific situation. The novel carries this quality as well. When there is the description about how the monster traveled in a different place, together with its destructive qualities it automatically creates horrific situation together with terror.
For example, when the monster takes revenge against Frankenstein by killing the innocent heroine on the day of their honeymoon, there is a horrific situation filled with terror. The reason this is a horrific moment is because Victor now knows that the monster is killing innocent people that he cares about, and he soon (Victor,) will be next. Due to the dark setting of the novel, the murders, and unnatural events, “Frankenstein” can be portrayed as a gothic novel and not a science fiction novel.
Although “Frankenstein” was influenced by science and has several elements of a science novel, it is not a science fiction novel. “Frankenstein” can be considered a gothic novel because of its dark setting, dreams and visions, and horrific situations. Frankenstein contains all the elements that a gothic novel has such as a gloomy setting, supernatural events, and mystery. Mary Shelly’s novel is filled with terror and suspense. The way the story is written makes it a gothic novel and not a science fiction novel.