How does Chapter 5 in "Frankenstein" show gothic genre?

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dymatsuoka eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Enotes defines gothic literature as being "focused on ruin, decay, death, terror, and chaos, and priviledged irrationality over rationality and reason".  Its characteristics further include attention to "the dark side of human nature and the chaos of irrationality", and a "fascination with horror, terror, and the supernatural".

In Chapter 5 of "Frankenstein", Victor Frankenstein describes himself as having been in the throes of "fatal passion", having megalomaniacally devoted his energies for the past two years to "the sole purpose of infusing life into an inanimate body...for this (he) had deprived (him)self of rest and health".  The chaos which has resulted from his irrational obsession is truly monstrous, a "wretch" with "horrid...watery eyes...(and) shriveled complexion".  The "demoniacal corpse" to which he has so "miserably given life" is "a thing such as even Dante could not have conceived".

The gothic elements of the central plot are further substantiated by the mood and setting of the chapter.  The night of the monster's creation is "dreary", and "the rain patter(s) dismally against the panes; Victor first beholds his creature by the "glimmer of (a) half-extinguished light" of a candle nearly burnt out".  The next morning is "dismal and wet...drenched by rain which pour(s) from a black and comfortless sky".  Victor himself is haunted by nightmares of "death....horror...(a) corpse...a shroud...grave-worms crawling in the folds of the flannel" (Chapter 5).