The Importance Of Gothic Elements In Mary Shelley's Frankenstein

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The Gothic as a genre originated out of pivotal cultural changes in the 18th century. Etymologically, the word ‘Gothic’ is connected to barbarian northern tribes named ‘Goths’, who lived in the Middle Ages and had been a relevant component in the conquest and collapse of the Roman Empire (cf. Punter and Byron 7). Esteeming the fact that this tribe existed in the medieval era, the Gothic in literature adepts the surroundings, meaning the retention of medieval settings such as castles and/or ruins (cf. Khair 5). Further, the public life in the 18th century was mainly determined by a reasonable way of thinking, attempting to explain every kind of human or natural activity in terms of rationality (ibid.) Conversely, having its roots connected to…show more content…
Khair 5). Particularly Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein; Or, the Modern Prometheus emphasises the aspect of challenging nature, life, environment, and morality by giving life to a creature, or rather a monster. Moreover, scholars of the Gothic may be aware of the vast ways of reading a Gothic novel, why a certain estrangement and deconstruction of the novel is crucial (cf. Wisker, “Liminal Spaces” 404). At the very core of the literary work, adepts are able to reveal and challenge the features of the Gothic novel not only in terms of social and cultural issues, but also in psychological and personal context (cf. Wisker, “Postcolonial Gothic” 168). Taking the myriad of Gothic novels into account, numerous key features are accentuated. Gothic writings are mainly attributed with a dark, misty and gloomy scenery, alluding to decay, terror, madness and death, either psychological or physical. This scenery induces an overall atmosphere of fear, mystery and even claustrophobia, underlined by the frequent usage of the symbolism of the fog. In fact, the “fog is a supremely sublime element”, obscuring the surroundings and prompting visibility difficulties (Mighall 56). In the 16th century, Edmund Burke challenged the established interpretation of the sublime in accordance with the beautiful (cf. Milbank 227). Conversely, he locates the sublime, i.e. the experiences within a novel outlining…show more content…
Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein; Or the Modern Prometheus offers a good insight in the elements of the sublime by means of a powerful and sensory imagery. According to Milbank, the “power is [therefore] seen to be the essence of the sublime style, which literally ‘moves’ or ‘transports’ its hearers [original emphasis]” (226-227). In fact, given a sublime experience, the reader might await something mysterious to happen. Besides, Gothic writings involve elements of the supernatural, underscoring anew the challenge of rationality and reason and hence, the contrast to classical literature. Unsurprisingly, vampires, werewolves, monsters, demons, femmes fatales, or the Devil himself, inter alia, portray the main characters within the Gothic story, causing inexplicable events. Especially ghosts are traditionally believed to depict the spirit of deceased persons, haunting places as well as characters and contributing to the creation of the terrifying and suspenseful ambiance. Apart from supernatural beings, tyrants, villains, persecuted maidens, mad women and maniacs are represented as main characters of the novels. Thus, as Catherine Spooner and Emma McEvoy reinforce, “Gothic novels could be easily identified by their incorporation of dominant tropes such as imperilled heroines, dastardly villains, ineffectual heroes, supernatural events,

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