How is Frankenstein both a Romantic and Gothic Horror Novel?

Mary Shelley's Frankenstein: A Combination of Gothic and Romantic Elements

Mary Wollencroft Shelley is one example of a Gothic and Romanticism author. Most romantic and Gothic horror novels share many qualities because they affect each other in some way. Because the author mixes both romance and gothic horror in her plot, Mary Shelley's Frankenstein is both a romantic and a gothic novel. Gothic horror in novels serves as an extension of Romantic enjoyment in literature, seeking to infuse excitement and fright in a narrative, as Shelley's Frankenstein does. Mary Shelley puts elements of romanticism in her story through the setting and the plot of the story with nature as well as those of gothic through death and horror. In Frankenstein, the gothic and romantic conventions are presents in the settings, subject matter, characterization, and the plot of the story.

The Power of Nature in Frankenstein

In Frankenstein, the power of nature serves as a vital theme of Romanticism because the majesty and mystery of nature is invoked from the beginning to the end of the novel. Shelley uses romanticism in the setting that helps to characterize Victor and the monster through the aspect of nature (Swingle 57). Most romantic novels consist of obscure and natural places, and this is exactly what can be found in Shelley's novel Frankenstein. The setting of the story is in Switzerland, which is a foreign land, and the place is romantic because of its beauty and magnificent nature scenes (Schug 605). In the story, nature is a significant imagery and Shelley paints nature in its divine splendor, especially when there during moments of a crisis. An example is when Victor is describing nature by saying "Dear Mountains, my own beautiful lake, your summits are clear, the sky and the lake are blue and placid" (Shelley 72) where he described the beauty of nature.

The romantic elements of nature play a vital role in the story because both Victor and the monster find solace in nature every time they feel alone and distressed. Victor took refuge in nature anytime he felt overwhelmed with everything that was happening to him and this is evident when Shelley writes, "he passed a whole day on the lake alone in the little boat, watching the clouds, and listening to rippling waves." Comparably, when the monster feels low, also takes refuge in nature and enjoys all the beautiful scenes. This is evident when Shelley writes "the pleasant sunshine and the pure air of the day restoring the monster to some degree of tranquility (Shelley 144). In addition, Victor was happy because he says "I contemplated the lake: the waters were placid; all around was calm, and the snowy mountains," "By degrees the calm and heavenly scene restored me, and I continued my journey towards Geneva" which shows Victor enjoyed nature (Shelley 47). The reactions from the monster and Victor himself show the audience how romanticism plays a vital role in this novel. Therefore, Shelley's Frankenstein is a Romantic novel where nature is imperative, as it is a source of pleasure, solace, and delight throughout the novel for the monster and Victor.

Erratic Behavior and Emotionalism in Frankenstein

Apart from the romanticism in the form of nature, in Shelley's Frankenstein romanticism is seen in the way the characters act both erratically and irrationally. A good example is the monster in the story who acts irrationally and insane by destroying people and property after he feels rejected by the humans. For instance, when he was chased away from the cottage, the monster burned down the cottage because he cannot endure being rejected everywhere he goes by the people because of his monstrous appearance (Swingle 60). Just like the monster, Victor also acts insanely and erratically, and an example is when he abandons his creation after realizing that it had a hideous look and this is credited to emotionalism. In addition, after realizing that the monster had killed the people close to him, he pursues him to the North pole without even thinking rationally as Shelley puts it he "was hurried away by fury" without realizing that he will be murdered by the monster ( Shelley 218). All Victor thought of was to avenge the death of his friends and family. Hence, both Victor and the monster's emotionalism show how they both reach their breaking point and at this point, they fail to think and act rationally because they are only consumed with revenge.

Gothic Horror in the Setting of Frankenstein

In addition to romanticism, Shelley uses gothic horror in the setting of the novel to bring suspense and fear in the story. In most gothic novels, the characters tend to bridge the supernatural and the natural world, and this is present in Frankenstein. The monster had a communication with his creator. Despite the fact that Victor abandoned him after creating him, the monster was always at places where Victor went. In addition, gothic novels take place in dark places and in Frankenstein; Victor's laboratory where he created the monster is a gloomy place where Victor spent his time using dead bodies to make a human being. The thought of just assembling dead body parts to create a creature makes the whole scene horrific, gloomy, and gruesome. In Frankenstein, Shelley takes full advantage of this element by creating a strange feeling in the readers by introducing a hideous creature made from dead body parts and the havoc the creature causes including killing people after being rejected.

As the story begins, Victor Frankenstein describes a gothic scene when he says "On a dreary night of November that I behalf the accomplishment of my toils" this is where he describes creating the monster that was to lead o his destruction (Shelley 51). Victor describes a gothic scene where he created the hideous creature, and this scene is to set up a dreary and dark mood for the readers in the story. In addition, Shelley uses Gothic scene during the time victor was headed back to Geneva. Shelley notes that "the darkness and storm increased every minute, and thunder burst with a terrific crash over his head (Victor's head" (Shelley 73). This is a gothic scene describing Victor's sight of the monster he created just to set up the mood for gothic horror in the story. After he finished his creation, Victor himself was afraid of him because of his monstrous appearance, and he abandoned him to wander in the forest.

As the story continues, we see a series of deaths in which is also a gothic convention that is meant to scare the audience. Victor is a scientist who creates a man from dead body parts, and this invokes an eerie in the readers because according to Shelley, the creature was hideous in appearance. At first, the creature murdered Williams, Elizabeth, Henry, and Justine and this forces him to turn to the mountains for relaxation. The portrayal given about Elizabeth's corpse sends cold chills and fear to the readers, and this is gothic in the novel. In this scene, Shelley used gothic elements to create fear in the audience.

The Combination of Gothic and Romantic Elements in Frankenstein

Frankenstein is a novel that fulfills all the requirements of a romantic and gothic fiction. Shelly invokes both terror and romance in the novel through the character of Frankenstein the monster. The horror in the book is brought about by the hideous villain created by Victor and when the monster decides to murder everyone close to Victor, his creator. Frankenstein is a monster that terrifies people in the novel because of its monstrous appearance.

Just like gothic horror, Romanticism is an idea that is also present in the novel. Shelly incorporates realism issues of love in the story when the monster demands for a partner from his creator (Schug 610). The monster felt all alone and always yearning for love just like the other ordinary people. Therefore, he demanded that Victor was to create a companion for him. Moreover, the setting of the novel represents romantic literature where it is in beautiful and exotic places with nature. Mary Shelley transforms a gothic horror to an important romantic literature with several romantic and gothic elements present in the novel.

In conclusion, Frankenstein is a compilation of both gothic and romantic elements. Mary Shelley incorporates romanticism in the story with the dominant use of nature throughout the story. In the story, nature is described in its magnificence because the book is set in beautiful and exotic places. The romantic setting builds the characters of Victor and the monster through different scenes whereby nature brings solace to them. In addition, in Frankenstein, the author enjoys several gothic elements by focusing on death and the horror that surrounds it. Shelley uses a dark gothic setting that builds the plot of the story in addition to the motif of death caused by the hideous creature created by Victor Frankenstein. Frankenstein is evidently a gothic romance. In essence, Frankenstein is a novel that has utilized the gothic and romantic elements to build the characters, the plot, the setting, and the subject matter of the story.

Work Cited

Shelley, Mary. Frankenstein. NY: St. Martins, 2000. Print.

Shelley, Mary Wollstonecraft. Frankenstein, or, The Modern Prometheus, 1818. Engage Books, AD Classic, 2014.

Schug, Charles. "The Romantic Form of Mary Shelley's Frankenstein." Studies in English Literature, 1500-1900 17.4 (1977): 607-619.

Swingle, Larry J. "Frankenstein's Monster and Its Romantic Relatives: Problems of Knowledge in English Romanticism." Texas Studies in Literature and Language 15.1 (1973): 51-65.

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