Mary Shelley was brought up in radical surroundings. Throughout her life she was dominated by writers and poets. She had a very intellectual and opinionated family; her mother was a campaigner for women’s equal rights and her father was a political free thinker.
Chapter 5 reveals that Mary Shelley has overturned the usual gothic conventions. She uses violent thunder storms to create an eerie, tense and ghostly atmosphere. The storm in chapter 5 is undramatic, it lacks violence and power which is completely different from the usual convention of a thunderstorm. Thunderstorms are usually the climax of what is happening but in this case its gives a sense of foreboding, a sense that something drastic is about to happen. The storm could reflect Victor’s obsession in his creation as this lead him to become dull and miserable. The scene is lifeless to emphasise the horrific and monstrous creature that Dr. Frankenstein brings to life.
At the beginning of chapter 5, a contrast between light and dark is shown. Darkness encroaches on the light as the “candle was nearly burnt out”. Shelley builds up the description of the creature and begins with the “dull yellow eye”. By doing this Shelley builds up tension. It is a kind of calm before the storm until the monster is actually completely revealed.
Shelley uses subliminal mental landscapes to communicate with Victors feelings. They reflect his shifting mental stability. Sublime landscapes are the only landscapes extreme enough to communicate with his “painful state of mind”. Dr Frankenstein’s ability or power over bringing something so grotesque and macabre to life, lead him to retreat from the society in which he lives and isolate himself in the confines of his creation.
“Dear mountains! My own beautiful lake! How do you welcome you wanderer? Your summits are clear; the sky and the lake are blue and placid. Is this to prognosticate peace, or mock at my unhappiness?” By saying this, Victor is clearly offended by the beauty and scenery around him. It is as if calmness and tranquillity angers him and torments his feelings of fear and isolation.
Shelley uses Victor Frankenstein as the archetypal gothic protagonist. The qualities which he beholds are typical of the gothic genre. Dr Frankenstein often rejects the values and moral codes of the religious society in which he lives. He cuts himself off from the world, and rejects to the contemporary developments to natural science. “As a child I had not been content with the results promised by the modern professors of natural science. Frankenstein is characterised as the Byronic hero. Byronic hero, named after the 19th century writer Lord Byron, does not possess ‘heroic virtues’- but instead has many dark qualities. He has emotional and intellectual capacities which make him superior to the average man. He became “acquainted with the science of anatomy” and obsessed in his knowledge. Being obsessed in something he believes in show his arrogance and yet passion about particular issues.
Often a Byronic hero is characterised by a guilty memory of some unnamed sexual crime- which often makes him repulsive towards the reader. Victor Frankenstein’s dream was maybe a subconscious desire toward his mother or guilt of being in a relationship with Elizabeth. Strange relationships and sexual undertones are the deeper and darker concerns revealed in his dream. In his dream, Elizabeth is in good health. But when he goes to kiss her, her lips become clear with the colour of her teeth.
White lips are often associated with gothic conventions as they symbolise death and decay and reality from appearances. It soon turns into a nightmare when his mother decays before his eyes. He personalises his creation to his own family issues and it also shows that he is disturbed and somewhat possessed by his creation. Maybe he has a deep feeling of guilt about destroying the bodies and he subconsciously wishes he never because he wouldn’t want his mother to be dismembered in the same way. This could be the reason for his isolation because he became” so deeply engrossed in his sole occupation”.
Mary Shelley’s “Frankenstein” differs from the usual gothic horrors as it deals with modern issues that are relevant today. The novel demonstrates the potential consequences of meddling with nature and shows its catastrophic effects. It deals with the anxieties about advances in science and technology and the novel could be seen as a warning about the possible direction that scientific progress could take us. The consequences of when a man tries to create new life without a woman disastrous. Throughout the novel we are lead to think that there is a deliberate absence of females and how Frankenstein avoids feminine issues. However, a closer look reveals that the creation of his monster is a travesty against a woman’s biological prerogative. In victors arrogance he believes he can create wonderful new life without the role of a woman but Shelley demonstrates how wrong he is.