With particular reference to Chapters 4 and 5, analyse how Mary Shelley creates gothic horror and suspense in ‘Frankenstein’ Mary Shelley creates gothic horror and suspense in ‘Frankenstein’ through the use of linguistic techniques and effective choices. Exploring these linguistic techniques and vocabulary helps us to understand in greater detail exactly how Shelley creates gothic horror and suspense. Gothic horror began with the use of emotional extremes to induce feelings of horror within the mind of the reader. The juxtaposition of these emotional extremes are usually expressed in the form of contrasting themes in gothic horror writing.
This can be seen in the use romanticism. While romanticism is not necessarily about love it is associated with nature and the natural world whilst gothic horror is associated with themes such as darkness, death and the supernatural. Gothic horror and romanticism are often used together to create tension or suspense through contrast. In this way horror and romanticism are juxtaposed emphasising the conventional levels this kind of genre. In order to understand why Shelley creates so much gothic horror and suspense, it is important to think about the context of the novel.
Shelley’s ideas and views about science are strongly reflected in her writing. She feared the development of science and foresaw a time that scientists would exceed moral boundaries and become obsessed and unethical in their work. This fear is personified in the creation of the main character of the novel: Victor Frankenstein. Shelley uses foreshadowing to subtly show the reader that Frankenstein’s obsession with his scientific work would lead to his ruin as is seen when he creates the monster the product of his scientific work.
Through this, suspense is created as the reader is informed early in the novel that Frankenstein’s obsession with science will destroy him. The reader does not know when or how science will destroy him, so suspense is created for the reader as they are expectant of the horror that awaits Frankenstein. Shelley makes it clear to the reader that Frankenstein was obsessed with his scientific work and as a result worked extremely hard to the extent that he became ‘very ill’ in attempting to achieve his goal of creating the monster.
Shelley uses foreshadowing to tell the reader in chapter five that Frankenstein has a ‘fatal passion’ that will destroy him. The word fatal here is a definite warning of the destruction that meets Frankenstein later in the novel. The scientific context of the novel was motivated by advances in science of the time, such Galvanism in which an Italian scientist named Luigi Galvani discovered that passing electricity through dead animals caused muscle spasms in the dead animal. This idea clearly inspired the novel.
The science in the novel is used to create gothic horror. Shelley intentionally did not delve into much depth about the scientific details of the creation of the monster so that it remained mysterious and intimidating. The science in the novel appears this way as the reader cannot ‘conceive the horrors’ of Frankenstein’s work. People fear what they do not understand and as Shelley does not disclose much detail about the science in the novel the reader does not fully understand it and therefore fears it, thus creating gothic horror in the novel.
Chapters four and five are the main part of the novel where gothic horror, suspense tension are created, as this is where the creation of the monster takes place. The vocabulary used here is particularly typical of gothic horror writing. These parts of the novel have more gothic horror and suspense created in them than other parts, as these were intended by Shelley to be more dramatic than other chapters in the novel. This is clear in the choice of vocabulary that Shelley intended this part of the novel to be the most dramatic.