How Does Mary Shelley Create a Sense of Dread and Horror Up to Chapter 5 in the Novel ‘Frankenstein’?

Topics: Frankenstein, Mary Shelley, Gothic fiction Pages: 17 (6870 words) Published: January 26, 2011
How does Mary Shelley create a sense of dread and horror up to chapter 5 in the novel ‘Frankenstein’?

Mary Shelley wrote the novel Frankenstein. The novel is also known as the modern Prometheus. Mary Shelley, her husband Percy and Lord Byron went to Lake Geneva. Lord Byron challenged the group to a ghost story. After that Mary Shelley had a dream which then made her start writing her ghost story. Her dream was of a boy which made a machine, a man, which showed signs of life. Mary then had the basis of her story and went on to complete the novel in 1817 and published it in 1818, in London when she was 18 years old. Another thing which influenced Mary in writing Frankenstein was Jean Jacques Rousseau, a French philosopher, writer and composer in the 18th century. She was deeply motivated by his thoughts and dreams. Her description in Frankenstein closely resembles her documentations of Rousseau’s wanderings throughout his days of exile. This probably gave her an idea of making the monster alone after her idea of a man made human machine. Also Mary knew that Rousseau abandoned his children to an orphanage which Mary disapproved of, but I think this gave her the idea of Victor abandoning his creation, this also happened to Mary when she was young and it also happened to Rousseau when he was young. They were both dreamers, yet outcasts and both found inspiration in loneliness and isolation.

The novel Frankenstein is also called the modern Prometheus. The reason why the novels subtitle is called the modern Prometheus is because in Greek mythology, Prometheus was the titan who stole fire from god and gave it to man. Victor stole the secret of creation of life from god in a way because he created a being in the likeness of a man. He stole this ‘fire’ or power and bought it to man just like Prometheus did.

Mary Shelley evokes a sense of horror when Victor Frankenstein says in (chapter 5): “It was on a dreary night of November that I beheld the accomplishment of my toils.” This was when Victor creates life, a being in the likeness of a man. ‘Dreary’ could be dull, gloomy and evil. She included the month of November to show that it is near the end of the year and it creates a dark setting. ‘November’ is also a cold, dreary month. It is before December (the last month of the year) so it could mean before death. ‘Beheld’ is carrying out or something which you have already carried out. It can create a sense of dread because the thing being carried out could be an evil thing which was carried out. The word ‘accomplishment’ can be victory, creation or achievement. It could be victory or achievement of the creation of something evil which creates the dread. In this case it was the achievement of creating life. ‘Toils’ is the hard work and hard work is work which is done over a long time. So if it is work done over a long period of time, than it gives you the feeling that something wicked is being created behind all the hard work.

The second link is that Prometheus was the one who made humans, just like Victor did from scratch. This had lot in common with the classic Prometheus; the dream and the creation of a new species; the disregard of limits. “I saw the dull yellow eye of the creature open; it breathed hard, and a convulsive motion agitated its limbs.” The point where the new being had started its life also creates a sense of fear. ‘Dull’ is gloomy, dreary, evil and deadly. ‘Yellow’ is a colour most commonly used in dangerous and dreadful creatures for the eyes and body so it makes the monster look bloodcurdling. The words ‘open’ and ‘breathed hard’ give the feeling of something is going to happen, a feeling of tension and suspense because it is the first breath of another human created and we do not know what is going to happen. ’Convulsive’ is the jerky muscular contractions resembling a spasm. It can also be the sudden violent movement of rage. It gives us a sense of terror because of the sudden violent movement; you do...
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