What do you think is the significance of Frankenstein's dream about Elizabeth in chapter 5 of Frankenstein?

The significance of Frankenstein's dream about Elizabeth in chapter 5 of Frankenstein is that it evokes the past tragedy of his mother's death and foreshadows the future tragedy of Elizabeth's death.

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In chapter 5 of Frankenstein, by Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley, Victor Frankenstein has a dream about Elizabeth that touches upon a former tragedy and foreshadows a greater tragedy to come. Before he falls asleep that night, he is recovering from the success of the "catastrophe" of bringing the creature to...

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In chapter 5 of Frankenstein, by Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley, Victor Frankenstein has a dream about Elizabeth that touches upon a former tragedy and foreshadows a greater tragedy to come. Before he falls asleep that night, he is recovering from the success of the "catastrophe" of bringing the creature to life.

I had worked hard for nearly two years, for the sole purpose of infusing life into an inanimate body. For this I had deprived myself of rest and health. I had desired it with an ardour that far exceeded moderation; but now that I had finished... breathless horror and disgust filled my heart.

Victor throws himself on his bed still fully clothed, and in time he falls asleep but is troubled by wild dreams.

At first, Victor's dream is pleasant. He dreamed about Elizabeth, his bride-to-be. She is "in the bloom of health," walking in the streets of Ingolstadt. Victor is delighted and surprised to see her. He hurries to embrace her, but as he kisses her, she turns into a corpse in his arms—specifically that of his deceased mother. Victor is thus recalling the most significant death in his life and at the same time he is presaging Elizabeth's death, which occurs on their wedding night.

Victor suddenly wakes in a cold sweat, and he barely has time to shake off his dream of death when he's confronted by the creature he has brought to life, who is standing at his bedside. The creature stares at him with what Victor described as "his watery eyes, that seemed almost of the same color as the dun-white sockets in which they were set."

In later chapters, the creature asks that Frankenstein make him a companion. When Frankenstein refrains from completing the task and ultimately decides against it, the creature says, "It is well. I go; but remember, I shall be with you on your wedding-night." In chapter 23, true to his word, the creature exacts revenge on Frankenstein by taking his companion from him: the creature kills Elizabeth on their wedding night. By this point, the significance of Frankenstein's dream in chapter 5 becomes clear. His sins have come full circle, and he has paid the greatest price.

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In Chapter Five of Mary Shelley’s classic of Gothic literature, Frankenstein, or the Modern Prometheus, Victor is finally successful at reanimating dead human tissue. His horror immediately upon gazing at his achievement, however, invades his dreams. In that dream, his cousin and future bride, Elizabeth, is transformed during their embrace and kiss from the healthy, vibrant woman he cherishes to the very image of death. As Victor describes this horrific transformation:

“ . . .I embraced her, but as I imprinted the first kiss on her lips, they became livid with the hue of death; her features appeared to change, and I thought that I held the corpse of my dead mother in my arms; a shroud enveloped her form, and I saw the grave-worms crawling in the folds of the flannel.”

This dream, occurring immediately after his realization that he alone is responsible for creating the terrifying being from which he fled in disgust, is highly symbolic. Since observing a violent thunderstorm as a teenager, Victor has been obsessed with the natural phenomena he has witnessed, mainly the effects on a tree of a lightning strike. His fascination with fundamental questions of life and death becomes all-consuming, leading to the two-years of experiments with dead tissue that ends with his creation of the “wretch” that will haunt him for the rest of his life. Victor sets forth on a life’s mission to, essentially, become God, giving little consideration to the moral ramifications of his efforts. As he regales Robert Walton with his story, he celebrates his achievement: “I became myself capable of bestowing animation upon lifeless matter,” later reiterating, “A new species would bless me as its creator and source; many happy and excellent natures would owe their being to me.”

Victor had become so bold as to equate himself with God, the creator of all life on Earth. In so doing, he has subverted nature and his dream about Elizabeth is a representation of the damnation to which he has now succumbed. He has not created life; he has created death. This horrific creature that Victor has fled will now represent Death. In the most remarkable display of hubris, Victor has asserted his right and demonstrated his ability to perform the work preserved for the female of the species, giving birth to new life. He has insulted God, and he has perverted the natural order of life. The vision of Elizabeth being transformed into the decomposed remains of his deceased mother is symbolic of that hubris.

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Soon after he has successfully created the monster, Frankenstein has a frightening dream about his eventual wife Elizabeth. In the dream he kisses her but when he does, she changes into his dead mother. This dream shows how Frankenstein is feeling guilty about creating the monster. This is why a woman features so prominently in the dream; Frankenstein has in a sense taken over a typical female activity, that of giving birth to a new life. The dream is all the more telling in that it features two of Frankenstein's loved ones. Birth, or creation, and death are therefore inextricably linked in this dream. It is also prophetic as Frankenstein's monster will go on to cause the deaths of many of his loved ones.

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Victor's dream foreshadows the ultimate destruction of his bride and his stable life. This dream comes on the night he has "beheld the accomplishment of [his] toils". He runs from the room, locks himself in his bedroom, & falls into a fitful sleep. There he dreams:

I thought I saw Elizabeth, in the bloom of health, walking in the streets of Ingolstadt. Delighted and surprised, I embraced her; but as I imprinted the first kiss on her lips, they became livid with the hue of death; her features appeared to change, and I thought that I held the corpse of my dead mother in my arms; a shroud enveloped her form, and I saw the grave-worms crawling in the folds of the flannel.

This also seems to suggest that Victor will cause Elizabeth's death, as evidenced by the fact that his dream kiss causes her to transform into a corpse. The fact that it is the corpse of his mother suggests something else entirely. Note the imagery here: "livid with the hue of death", "shroud enveloped", "grave-worms". This is powerfully descriptive diction that reflects the description of Elizabeth's corpse later in the novel.

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