Mary Shelly uses several different styles of writing in chapter five to develop the atmosphere. Primarily she uses gothic machinery throughout, adding oppressive words and playing with light in scenes to add tension. She also uses repetitive descriptions to stress their severity in the chapter. Even poetry is used with hidden symbolism to complement her writing and to break up the story; allowing tension to rise and fall. Finally she moves characters in and out of Frankenstein’s path to change the direction of the story Mary Shelly immediately sets up an atmosphere of horror and expectation in this chapter.
Dr. Frankenstein has been striving for this goal unknowingly since childhood. He was always fascinated by science, chemistry in particular and the old philosophers who inspired him to recreate life. It’s like a seed that’s been planted inside of him, growing to an unbearable size, until he’s physically in agony as he hasn’t achieved his goal. Mary Shelly shows all this by using oppressively gothic words like “toil” and “dismal”. The only worlds not included in this style are “rain” and “infuse” both meaning life and beginning.
Because Shelly combines these two groups of words, they foreshadow the destruction and horror this new life will bring upon Frankenstein. The actual reanimation of the monster is extremely adverse to the more stereotypical versions, as Shelly doesn’t focus on the machines and electricity involved, which are meaningless elements of the act. Instead her focus is on the life itself and its effect on Dr. Frankenstein. He is desperately anxious but not only in a negative sense. He can’t contain himself that finally this creature will be alive, so he’s in agony due to waiting, but the pain is worth the great moment about to come.
All of his emotions and dreams are surrounded by Mary Shelly’s superb description of gloom, echoing a warning that Frankenstein’s moment is not going to be a joyous occasion. The light in the scene is barely there, throwing shadows over the room. The rain is pouring down on the roof but without effort, almost waiting like Frankenstein to either stop with awe at the miracle of this great new life, or to thrash down with horror at this disastrous creation. Frankenstein created his creature with care and love. In its lifeless form, Frankenstein, blinded by ambition, sees it as beautiful.
But when he has finally given it life, he sees the “wretch” lying, twitching in front of him. Frankenstein gave the creature healthy black hair and perfect white teeth, features deemed a luxury by Shelly. He found his creature perfectly proportional limbs and constructed him with an eye for detail. Frankenstein expected his “child” to be perfect and beautiful, like all children should be, but the reality is Shelly has mutilated the creature’s body, corrupting with decay. Whereas Frankenstein sees beauty, Shelly sees rotten yellow skin pulled taught over its work of muscles and ligaments.
She sees dull watery eyes the same sickly colour as its skin. A sagging face with coal black lips and ghastly white teeth, ghostly against its sallow skin. All these conflicting features compiled by Shelly make a grim image of a mismatched creation. This confuses Frankenstein as it’s not what he expected to see. After Frankenstein’s dream comes true, the reanimation of a person, he doesn’t rejoice or celebrate, he doesn’t even run away terrified of his monster but instead he seeks refuge in his bed. Mary Shelly uses this anticlimax to show Frankenstein’s dream of surreal and disturbing visions.
This allows the reader into Frankenstein’s fragile mind, his subconscious. As shocked as Frankenstein seemed by his creation when conscious he seems even more terrified in his dream which Shelly distorts magnificently. In Frankenstein’s dream Shelly reminds us of old characters that haven’t been seen for some time. Firstly there is Elizabeth his sister. Frankenstein goes to kiss her but she shrivels away, dying. Next he sees his dead mother’s body. The features of this vision match the monsters; black lips and dark features. Shelly includes his mother as a symbol of Frankenstein’s inspiration or cause for creating the monster.