Mary Shelley’s novel “Frankenstein” is about a young man called Victor Frankenstein with a huge thirst for knowledge. When he leaves his home for university, he explores the theories of the time using human body parts and actually manages to create a real-life monster. When he realises and regrets what he’s done, he rejects the Monster. Because of the way that the Monster looks, society rejects him, too. Victor’s rejection of the Monster and his initial attempt to “play God” have terrifying consequences; it results in the deaths of the people closest to him at the hands of his creation.
Victor must then embark on a mission to destroy the Monster-even if it means the end of his own life. Chapter five is crucial to the novel because it’s where the Monster actually comes to life. The chapter’s extremely Gothic. We see the themes of family and friends, ambition and responsibility. We also see Victor’s thirst for knowledge and the relevance of Victor’s dreams. We are also introduced to the actual character of Victor. We see his lack of responsibility, his unstable nature and his poor ability to cope with things on several occasions. These factors are visible again throughout the novel.
Mary Shelley’s original ideas for “Frankenstein” came when at Lake Geneva with Lord Byron and her husband. It was a dark and stormy night and Lord Byron suggested a ghost story competition. “Frankenstein” emerged here. Lord Byron and her husband were extremely impressed, and encouraged Mary Shelley’s to write it down. “Frankenstein” actually began with just chapter five as a short story, but Mary’s friends encouraged her to extend it and turn it into a novel. This too shows the importance of chapter five. Mary Shelley was very knowledgeable about Gothic writing.
Whilst staying in Geneva, Mary met two famous Gothic writers-Doctor Polidori and Lewis. This really influenced her Gothic stance and inspired her to write Gothic novels of her own. Whilst staying in Geneva, she wrote, “The thunderstorms that visit us are grander and more terrific than I have ever seen before” and, “We watch them approach from the opposite sides of the like, observing the lightening play among the clouds in various heights”. I think that these experiences probably helped her in writing the more Gothic aspects of the “Frankenstein”-especially the storm in chapter twenty-three prior to the death of Elizabeth.
Chapter five is particularly Gothic. It’s an extremely eerie chapter. As the monster comes to life, we as the reader know immediately that the chapter’s going to be scary. The monster transforms from a, “lifeless thing”. Then as he opens his, “dull yellow eye”, we see him come to life, and we see his “yellow skin”, “straight black lips” and the “horrid contrast” of his teeth and eyes. This builds up tension. The language throughout the chapter is also Gothic. Words and phrases such as, “daemonical corpse”, “shroud”, “livid with the hue of death” and, “grave worms” are all eerie and associated with death.
An especially Gothic moment in this chapter is Victor’s dream, where he sees the monster turn to his dead mother in his arms. This is a very scary image, and it creates a tense, eerie and ultimately extremely Gothic atmosphere. This encourages the reader to read on. There are many other Gothic references in the novel; Gothic elements influence “Frankenstein” as a whole. The weather is often used as a Gothic device. On the night of Victor’s and Elizabeth’s wedding, a storm is used to create a Gothic atmosphere. When the storm arrives, Victor says that, “a thousand fears arose” in his mind.
When they arrive at the house, Victor’s narrative is again extremely Gothic; just when he begins to calm down he hears a, “shrill and dreadful scream”. When he finds Elizabeth, she’s, “lifeless and inanimate” and with, “pale and distorted” features. This conjures up a very frightening and therefore Gothic picture in a reader’s mind. Victor, too, is extremely afraid of the monster. He paces with, “quick steps” and fears that, “every turning of the street would present to my view”. Even though there’s nothing to suggest that the Monster’s about to arrive here, Victor’s still scared.
This shows that Victor’s fear is of the memory of the Monster, rather than a fear of his actual surroundings. Similarly, many references to the setting of “Frankenstein” are made throughout chapter five, and this adds atmosphere. The night the Monster came alive is first referred to as a “dreary night” and the rain, “pattered miserably against the panes”. Later on, after the monster has come to life, the rain, “poured from a black and comfortless sky”. This reflects Victor’s own mood; there’s no way that he can now be comforted after what has now happened. The way the chapter is set at night also adds setting atmosphere.
Later on in chapter five, however, when Victor’s met with Henry Clerval and is on his way to recovery, the weather and general atmosphere improves. Victor perceives that, “the fallen leaves had disappeared and the young buds” and that the young buds were, “shooting forth from the trees that shaded my window”. This again reflects Victor’s own state of mind; when his life begins to look up after the arrival of his friend, the weather does too. All of this is again reflected in chapter ten; the desolate setting (the trees are described as “entirely destroyed” and “strewed”) reflects Victor’s feelings.