Discuss the Gothic tradition in "Frankenstein." I need some examples as well to support my answer.

Expert Answers
mstultz72 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Frankenstein reveals the following Gothic themes and imagery:

  • Originated as ghost story
  • Portrays human beings as woefully imperfect
  • Humans mercy of nature and death.
  • Doppelganger (ghostly twin) haunts his creator
  • Monster made at night, from dead bodies robbed from graveyard
  • Imagery focuses on light, fire, darkness, and night (all symbolic of good and evil, knowledge and ignorance)
  • Haunted laboratory
  • Dr. Frankenstein and Monster: characters isolated by extreme passion (for knowledge, revenge)
  • Lots of gothic monologues (by Victor), an anti-hero tormented by past sins
  • The use of technology: a modern story with a gothic setting
  • The Natural World versus the City
  • The use of animals (Monster sleeps with them)
  • Religion: God, the Devil and Christianity
  • Myth, legend and gossip

So says Enotes:

Horace Walpole introduced the first Gothic novel in 1764 with The Castle of Otranto: A Gothic Story. Gothic novels were usually mysteries in which sinister and sometimes supernatural events occurred and were ultimately caused by some evil human action. The language was frequently overly dramatic and inflated. Following this movement was the Romantic movement's fascination with the macabre and the superstitious aspects of life, allowing them the freedom to explore the darkest depths of the human mind. Most critics agree that Mary Shelley's Frankenstein reflected her deepest psychological fears and insecurities, such as her inability to prevent her children's deaths, her distressed marriage to a man who showed no remorse for his daughters' deaths, and her feelings of inadequacy as a writer. The Gothic novel usually expresses, often in subtle and indirect ways, our repressed anxieties. The settings usually take place far away from reality or realistic portrayals of everyday life. Shelley's setting, of course, is the exception to most Gothic novels. The fact that the creature wanders the breathtaking Alps instead of a dark, craggy mansion in the middle of nowhere either compounds the reader's fear or makes the creature more human.