The term Gothic refers to a genre that came about in the late eighteenth century. It can be a type of story, clothing, or music nowadays. In this paper it will refer to a style of literature. A very good example of this type of literature is Mary Shelley's Frankenstein. There is a sense of foreboding throughout the whole novel, which is one of the basic necessities of the Gothic. This theme of the Gothic has different characteristics that all fit into the story of Victor Frankenstein and his monster and make this one of the first horror stories every told.
The very first characteristic of a Gothic novel is its sinister setting. The opening sentence in Frankenstein sets the mood for the rest of the book. Shelley begins her novel with, "You will rejoice to hear that no disaster has accompanied the commencement of an enterprise which you have regarded with such evil forebodings" (p. 13). At this point in the novel, Walton is on a ship in the middle of the North Pacific Ocean, on his way to the North Pole. He is being blocked from all sides by ice, and can see nothing but ice for miles. The landscape is barren, and all of his crew is in fear of running out of food and fresh water. This setting is very sinister in lieu of the imminent death that is facing the crew members.
When the scene switches to the life of Victor Frankenstein, the reader finds out that everything is wonderful throughout his childhood. Later, when he goes away to college in pursuit of knowledge about alchemy and other sciences, everything gets darker and darker. When construction of the creature begins, Victor describes his workshop as "a solitary chamber, or rather cell, at the top of the house, and separated from all the other apartments by a gallery and staircase. This is where [he] kept [his] workshop of filthy creation" (p. 53). He goes on to describe the "dissecting room" and "slaughter-house" that provided his material (p.53). This, too, adds to the sinister setting and evil undertones of the novel.
The setting also serves the purpose of reflecting the feelings of the characters in the novel. Whenever Frankenstein is upset or someone is going to jail, it is raining. A Gothic novel would not be complete without a lot of rain. For example, after Victor sees the monster for the first time, he says, "[I] felt impelled to hurry on, although drenched by the rain which poured from a black and comfortless sky" (p. 58). While flipping through the novel, the reader can be certain of catching a glimpse of the words rain, dark, horror, and tears.
The second characteristic of the Gothic theme is the fascination with the unconscious and abnormal psychology. This includes things such as secrets and crime, both of which share the spotlight in Frankenstein. The main secret in the novel is...