Exploring the Gothic Elements in this Excerpt
The Gothic novel, a genre that emerged in the late 18th century, is characterized by its mysterious and supernatural elements. Gothic literature often includes settings that are dark, ominous, and creepy, with elements such as castles, dungeons, and graveyards. Additionally, the genre often features characters who are heroic, but also flawed and prone to madness and obsession. In this excerpt from Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, we can see several Gothic elements at work.
The first Gothic element evident in the excerpt is the setting. The scene takes place on a “dreary night of November,” and Victor Frankenstein is alone in his laboratory. The fact that it is a dreary night sets the tone for the scene, creating a sense of unease and apprehension. Furthermore, the fact that Frankenstein is alone in his laboratory adds to the Gothic atmosphere, creating a sense of isolation and loneliness. This sense of isolation is further emphasized when Frankenstein describes his laboratory as “a solitary chamber, or rather cell, at the top of the house,” which conjures up images of a prison cell.
Another Gothic element present in this excerpt is the supernatural. Frankenstein describes his creation as “the wretch,” which immediately suggests that it is not entirely human. He also talks about “the thin white curtain that was drawn before the glass” being pulled back, revealing his creation. The use of a “thin white curtain” hints at the idea of the veil between life and death being lifted, which is a common theme in Gothic literature. The fact that the creature has been brought to life through science also adds a supernatural element to the scene.
The language used in this excerpt also contributes to the Gothic atmosphere. For example, when Frankenstein describes his creation as “the miserable monster whom I had created,” he uses language that is emotive and dramatic, playing on the reader’s emotions and creating a sense of sympathy for the creature. Additionally, when he talks about the creature’s eyes “opening,” it suggests that it has been brought to life, which is a supernatural event.
The theme of madness is also present in this excerpt. Victor Frankenstein is described as being “possessed by a maddening passion,” and his obsession with creating life has consumed him. This theme of madness is a common one in Gothic literature, as characters are often driven to insanity through their obsession with supernatural phenomena.
Finally, the use of symbolism in this passage adds to the Gothic atmosphere. For example, when Frankenstein describes his creation as “the wretch,” he is using language that is symbolic, implying that the creature is an abomination or something that has been discarded. Additionally, when he describes the creature’s eyes as “dull yellow” and “watery,” it suggests that it is not entirely human and adds to the sense of unease in the scene.
In conclusion, this excerpt from Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein contains several Gothic elements that contribute to its dark and ominous atmosphere. From the setting of a dreary laboratory on a November night to the supernatural creation of life, to the theme of madness and the use of emotive language and symbolism, all of these elements combine to create a sense of unease and apprehension that is characteristic of the Gothic genre. Shelley’s use of these elements has ensured that Frankenstein remains a classic of Gothic literature, and its influence can still be seen in contemporary horror and science fiction today.