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How Does Mary Shelley Create Tension in Chapter 5 of 'Frankenstein'? Paper

Mary Shelley was a writer, novelist, and biographer, best known for her Gothic novel Frankenstein. She had already written many stories and short novels, and even edited and promoted the works of her husband, Percy Bysshe Shelley . But Frankenstein; the Modern Prometheus was her first work to achieve popularity and great success, despite the initial bad reviews, claiming the novel to be ”a tissue of horrible and disgusting absurdity”. Frankenstein recalls the events of the fictional Victor Frankenstein and of his becoming an unholy creator of life.

When the novel was written, science was highly debated; and Frankenstein was the first novel to give the impression that one day, science will destroy mankind. The subtle mixture of the Gothic genre and this awry science in the novel gives an enhanced Science-Fiction feel, and makes readers stick with the novel until the end. In the first paragraph, the writer creates a dark, dismal atmosphere and creates tension by using pathetic fallacy; describing the weather and time of night.

She uses the phrase ”dreary night of November”, this builds suspense for the reader as it gives the hint that an event is about to occur, as most horrific events occur in the middle of the night. The use of the word ”dreary” shows that the night had a certain bleakness and gloom about it, which can refer to the Gothic theme of the novel. Perhaps Mary Shelley chose to open chapter 5 using this phrase because it sets the atmosphere and mood for the chapter, and gives a slight hint as to what the chapter will be like.

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The writer adds to the gloomy atmosphere by using “The rain pattered dismally against the panes,” this further adds suspense to the moment, as the writer uses pathetic fallacy to create a dark atmosphere. Furthermore in the first paragraph, “The candle had nearly burnt out” may be a metaphor to Frankenstein’s hope. The candle nearly burning out, could link to his hope almost burning out also. The use of the word “candle” is because during those historical times, there was no actual electricity, only candles and fire. With an anxiety that almost amounted to agony,” The writer uses alliteration in this phrase, which gives an effect of intense emphasis. The use of the words “anxiety” and “amounted to agony” can once again be linked to the Gothic genre, as they add to the melancholy and sadness of Frankenstein’s stress building up. Alternatively, these phrases can be linked to child-birth, Frankenstein is trying to create life, causing anxiety and almost agony, which is also common in women giving birth.

Perhaps the writer’s intentions in these few phrases are to emphasize the pain and anxiety of creating life, as 3 out of 4 of her children died in infancy. In paragraph two, Frankenstein begins to describe the monster after it waked. “his limbs were in proportion” this shows that Frankenstein has begun to list the positive features of the monster; starting with his physical shape. “Dun-white sockets” and “shriveled complexion” are adjectives, which may show that Frankenstein is reviewing the monster; this begins to create images of what the monster may look like in the readers’ head.

The writer continues to use descriptive phrases for the monster, she does this to lure readers into the main section of the chapter, because the readers can’t help but read the phrases to get an image of the monster themselves in their heads, this effect is created by such phrases as “His yellow skin scarcely covered the work of arteries and muscles beneath”. Frankenstein also shows signs that he is debating whether he is proud of his creation or not. “Beautiful! Great God! this shows that he doubts himself, as he is disregarding his earlier opinion on the monster. This could also be a reference to the fact that many people feared science at the time of the novel being written. The use of the words “Great God! ” shows that Frankenstein may have been slightly religious, or believe that he himself may be playing God. In contrast, Frankenstein begins to note the negative features of the Monster. In the third paragraph, Frankenstein eventually tries to sleep, but is disturbed. I rushed out of the room” gives the impression that Frankenstein was scared and anxious because of his creation, and had to run out of the room In fear from what he had created. The writer is trying to show here, Frankenstein’s disgust and anger, that he had spent a lot of time and energy on making an immortal, beautiful creature; but instead made a grotesque monster. “Continued a long time traversing my bed-chamber” this shows that Frankenstein was pacing his bedroom, most likely while intensely thinking about what he had previously given life to. Traversing” means to pass by something, the use of this word shows that even though he was tired, Frankenstein’s mind was too busy trying to comprehend the aspect of what he had created. The writer’s use of “bed-chambers” is an example of the oldness of the novel, as the modern alternative is “bedroom”. Frankenstein eventually began dreaming of kissing his love, Elizabeth, until his dream became a nightmare. “They became livid with the hue of death;” this depicts that the beautiful lips which he had been dreaming of kissing, became cold and deathly.

This is also a reference to the Gothic genre, as it links to death. The use of the phrase “livid with the hue of death;” this is an uncommon adjective, not widely used in recent times; it is a reference to the color that the body turns after it has died, this builds up last-minute suspense for readers, as they get the hint that something is about to occur once he wakes up. The next part of the paragraph returns to reality as Frankenstein wakes up and watches as the monster forces it’s way through the window shutters. He held up the curtain of the bed; and his eyes, if eyes they may be called, were fixed on me. ” This gives the reader a sense of anxiety, as they wonder what the monster is going to do to Frankenstein. The use of the words “If eyes they may be called” shows that the monster’s eyes are so inhuman, that Frankenstein refuses to call them ‘Eyes’. This makes the readers immediately have an even worse outlook on the Monster, as eyes and eyebrows are parts of the body which help make people unique. Towards the middle of chapter 5, Frankenstein runs away in an attempt to flee from the Monster, out of fear. My heart palpitated in the sickness of fear”, this shows that Frankenstein is considerably scared and anxious, for his heart to palpitate to such an extent. This also creates tension, as the reader thinks that the Monster is going to find Frankenstein. The use of “the sickness of fear” is characterization, giving fear the human characteristic of being sick. In Chapter 5, Mary Shelley creates reputable suspense and tension by using a variety of techniques such as Pathetic Fallacy, intense character descriptions and notation of the setting to an xtent that you almost feel like you’re witnessing what is occurring. The writer also writes about the Monster in such a way that you don’t know what’s going to happen next, this makes the chapter more interesting to read as the unexpectedness is enjoyable. The most important technique Mary Shelley used was the way she used the settings of the scenes to create an atmosphere, as when this is coupled with unpleasant descriptions of the characters and weather; creates an almost life-like image of the event.

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