A classic gothic novel emphasises fear and terror. It has the presence of the supernatural, the placements of events within a distant time and an unfamiliar and mysterious setting. Romantic writer Mary Shelley’s novel Frankenstein conforms to these conventional ‘classic’ Gothic traits as well as to the modern conceptions of what is considered as Gothic. Shelley’s Frankenstein is host to a range of significant gothic elements, evident through Victor’s creation of the gigantic creature, the dark setting of the novel, set in places of gloom and horror, and the disempowered portrayal of females, in which women are threatened by the tyranny of males and are often in distress. Omens and visions are also evident in the novel, further enhancing the Gothicism found in the novel. Frankenstein is defined as a Gothic novel through the many Gothic aspects it features. The connections, and relevance it has to today’s modern society and the lessons that can be learned from it, is what classifies it as being classic.
Shelley uses the supernatural elements of raising the dead to frighten her readers. Through the eyes of Victor the monster is repulsive and altogether unnatural, shocking the reader out of reality, “I suddenly beheld the figure of a man, at some distance, advancing toward me with superhuman speed.” At a time of great scientific advancement this would have been a topical story that pushed the boundaries, presenting readers with a truly shocking idea removed from reality, but remotely possible. Not only is this topic unknown and mysterious, it is presented in such a frightening way that terror consumes the reader. Victor's decision to stop making a female monster is driven by fear that “a race of devils would be propagated upon the earth who might make the very existence of the species of man a condition precarious and full of terror” and this is the very feeling that has already been sparked in the reader during the creation of the first monster.
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