Critical Essay Sample on Gothic Elements in Frankenstein

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I. The usage of gothic elements in the novel Frankenstein by Mary Shelly helps to create the mysterious atmosphere of Victorian England.

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II. Gothic Novel has its roots back to the 18th century and refers to Medieval times.

The gothic novel as a genre and its elements. The gothic novel usually depicts old places, ruined and partly ruined castles, and abandoned houses. The main elements of the Gothic novels are night journeys and evil characters. Setting plays an extremely important role in Gothic novels as it creates an atmosphere of horror, essential for this genre.

Gothic Novel in the Period of Romanticism

The romantic period in English literature brought the genre of the Gothic novel some new elements such as strange visions and ghosts. Among the most famous representatives of the ghost story as a sub-genre of the Gothic novel are Lord Byron, Percy Bysshe Shelly, and his wife Mary Shelly. Being good friends, Byron and the Shelly family organized a competition on the best ghost story, which resulted in the appearance of the novel Frankenstein by Mary Shelly.

III. Frankenstein by Mary Shelly is considered the first science fiction novel ever as well as one of the best horror stories.

Science fiction is the genre, which deals with futuristic issues and technological inventions. What makes Frankenstein scientific is doubtless the invention of Doctor Frankenstein, though there are no scientific explanations of this phenomenon. The genre of horror stories is very close to the notion of the Gothic novel, as it contains many similar elements. The use of natural and foreshadowing are the main elements of the horror story present in Frankenstein.

IV. Not being a purely Gothic novel, Frankenstein contains many elements of this genre.

One of the main characteristics of a Gothic novel is the setting, which is dark and gloomy in Frankenstein. The laboratory of Doctor Frankenstein serves as a perfect example of a gloomy place, where strange things are happening.

The natural exterior of the novel is also rather typical for the Gothic novels the desert mountains and dreary glaciers are my refuges. I have wandered here many days; the caves of ice which I only do not fear, are a dwelling to me, and the only one which man does not grudge (Shelly 84). Many of the scenes and descriptions from the novel create the impression of horror and fear.


The scenes when Victor Frankenstein is picking the bones or is looking at his creation are terrifying and create an atmosphere of gloom. The reader may find the idea of a person rising from the dead scary as well, which is typical for Gothic novels. The way the novel is told makes the reader feel the fear, which Victor feels to the monster.

Gothic Elements in Frankenstein Quotes

  • "I leave you, and in you the last of humankind whom these eyes will ever behold. Farewell, Frankenstein!"

  • "I collected bones from charnel houses; and disturbed, with profane fingers, the tremendous secrets of the human frame."

  • "Solitude was my only consolation - deep, dark, deathlike solitude."

  • "To examine the causes of life, we must first have recourse to death."

  • "If I cannot inspire love, I will cause fear."

Works Cited

Clery, E. J. Women's Gothic: From Clara Reeve to Mary Shelley. Tavistock: Northcote House in Association with the British Council, 2000. Print.

Heller, Lee E. "Free Essays Must Be Free! TM." Frankenstein: A Cultural Perspective Essay. Web. 30 Mar. 2016.

Hume, Robert D. "Gothic versus Romantic: A Revaluation of the Gothic Novel." Pmla 84.2 (1969): 282. Web.

Shelley, Mary Wollstonecraft. Frankenstein, Or, The Modern Prometheus. London: Penguin, 2003. Print

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