What is the mood in Mary Shelley's Frankenstein?

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The prevailing mood of Shelley's Frankenstein is, arguably, one of intrigue and mystery, a feeling enhanced by the use of not one, but two frame narratives, a classic Gothic device that serves to distance the reader from the core of the text. In Frankenstein, we first approach the story through the letters of Walton, a sailor, who has no understanding of who Victor Frankenstein is or what he has done. Gradually, we come to understand Frankenstein's own telling of his story, and, as this is told in the first-person via Walton, begin to think we understand what is happening; there is some level of sympathy evoked for Frankenstein, at the same time, as the reader's sense of unease grows. It is evident that what Frankenstein has done cannot end well for him, and that it has led him to the situation in which Walton found him at the beginning of the book. Perhaps the core story within the frame narrative, however, is that of the Creature speaking for himself. It is at this point that the final layers of the onion are peeled away, and the reader finally understands how grievous Frankenstein's errors have been against nature and God, as well as against the unfortunate Creature whom he has brought into existence and then condemned.

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The mood of Frankenstein is one of foreboding, or tragedy or evil, that is to come. The first-person point of view from Victor Frankenstein allows the narration to reflect the hard-earned wisdom that he gained from his actions. It is clear from the moment of Victor’s interest in alchemy that no good will come from this. This fact that he immediately abandoned his creature left a sense of approaching doom: Victor does not know what has become of the creature. He makes the leap to the conclusion that it is the creature who has killed his little brother William, as well as causing the guilt to be placed on Justine, who is executed as a murderess. With each event, this leads the reader along, knowing that the creature’s actions will lead him on to more and more murders. On the way, however, the reader learns the creature’s story and manages to gain some sympathy for, perhaps even identification with, him. This gives a paradoxical feeling for the “monster.” With the tragic ending and the creature’s remorse, this becomes less of a horror story than a tale of lost opportunity and love.

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What types of mood and atmosphere are found in the book Frankenstein?

The mood of Frankenstein is quite ominous and mysterious.  When Walton and his crew find Victor, frozen and starving on the ice, he only has one sled dog still alive, and the captain describes his eyes as possessing a kind of "wildness" and "madness."  This contrasts with Victor's moments of "benevolence and sweetness," though he remains "melancholy and despairing" even in these moments.  What can have happened to this person to create such dissimilar attributes?  His condition cannot be the result of something happy or joyful, and thus the mystery begins: we expect something terrible.

Further, in one of their earliest conversations, Victor tells Walton, 

"You seek for knowledge and wisdom, as I once did; and I ardently hope that the gratification of your wishes may not be a serpent to sting you, as mine has been."

At this point, then, we know that Victor's story is going to be one that contains some tragedy and, likely, some guilt.  He seems to acknowledge the role he has played in getting himself into his current position: he realizes he is here because he sought one thing above all else.  We know this story cannot end well, based on Walton's observations of Victor.  Finally, we also know that Walton also has a terrible thirst for knowledge, and this presents the strong possibility that he could end up in as tragic a position as Victor.  All of this contributes to the ominous and mysterious mood.  

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What types of mood and atmosphere are found in the book Frankenstein?

I would say the primary mood/ atmosphere in Mary Shelley's Frankenstein is one of foreboding or dread. Consider, for instance, that we get most of Frankenstein's story after the events of the tale have occurred; in other words, Frankenstein is telling us his story retrospectively, allowing him to reflect on his story as he tells it. Thus, it's easy for him to infuse his tale with a strong feeling of dread and ominous foreboding, as he already knows what happens. Moreover, it's clear from the start that Frankenstein's experiments are a bad idea and will only result in something evil, and the monster's stalking of Frankenstein and those closest to him builds a sense of dread. All in all, the story has a mood of building terror, and we get the sense that we as readers are also being haunted by some monstrosity. That said, it's hard not to sympathize with the monster once we meet him. As such, the mood also involves a sense of melancholy, or even tragedy.

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