Analysis of gothic elements in Mary Shelley's Frankenstein and S. T. Coleridge's Christabel Romantic writers commonly used gothic elements to describe supernatural events that included a dark setting and gloomy atmosphere, usually followed by a dreadful crime. Many writers took interest in the gothic, and in this essay I will try to analyze and discuss the use of those elements in Frankenstein written by Mary Shelley and Christabel by S. T. Coleridge. “The Gothic novel could be seen as a description of a fallen world.
We experience this fallen world though all aspects of the novel: plot, setting, characterization, and theme. ” (De Vore, D. ; Domenic, A. ; Kwan, A. ; Reidy, N. : “The Gothic Novel”)1 The setting is very important in Gothic novels. The novels are usually set in castles, graveyards, dungeons, ruins.. The mood is dark and gloomy, full of horror and suspense. There are also supernatural events and creatures, as well as damsels in distress. The emotions are heightened, there are crimes such as murder or kidnapping. I will start with the analysis of gothic elements in Christabel.
“’Tis the middle of night by the castle clock, / And the owls have awakened the crowing cock. ” (l. 1-2) These first lines of the poem introduce a macabre setting. We soon learn that the plot is set in the dark woods and the castle. “What makes her in the wood so late, / A furlong from the castle gate? ” (l. 25-26) Christabel has gone to pray for her knight, whom she is to marry, when she heard a noise: “It moaned as near, as near can be, / But what it is, she cannot tell. ” (l. 39-40) There is suspense, but we soon learn that the sound comes from “.. a damsel bright, / Drest in a silken robe of white. ” (l.
58-59) As I have stated before, the gothic novel usually included a damsel – Geraldine in this particular situation. As the story goes on, we find out that a kidnapping took place. “Five warriors seized me yestermorn, / Me, even me, a maid forlorn: / They choked my cries with force and fright. ” (l. 81-83) Christabel agrees to help Geraldine and take her to her father's castle, but as soon as they came to the gate, Geraldine faints and Christabel has to carry her over the threshold. Here we have a supernatural element, vampiric to be precise, since “a vampire cannot cross a threshold without the invitation.
” (Twitchell, 10) “A little door she opened straight, / All in the middle of the gate; / The lady sank, belike through pain, / And Christabel with might and main / Lifted her up, a weary weight, / Over the threshold of the gate: / Then the lady rose again, / And moved, as she were not in pain. ” (l. 125-133). Another element that invokes suspense and gloom is the behaviour of an old mastiff, when she and Geraldine were passing through on their way to Christabel's chamber – “The mastiff old did not awake, / Yet she an angry moan did make! ” (l.
147-148) “In this poem Coleridge takes liberty to introduce a frightening Gothic element – the possession of a woman by another women. ” (Ritter, S. “Gothic Elements in the Poetry of Coleridge and Keats”)2 We can see clearly from the text that Geraldine is troubled, even possessed at times, and then she goes back to being normal again. “Alas! what ails poor Geraldine? ” (l. 207) “And why with hollow voice cries she, / 'Off, woman, off! this hour is mine — Though thou her guardian spirit be, / Off, woman, off! 'tis given to me. ' ” (l. 210-213) The first part of the poem ends with Christabel being seduced by Geraldine.
While Geraldine was praying, Christabel looked at her, and suddenly her robe fell and exposed half her body. Geraldine is ashamed but lays next to Christabel and comforts her, saying there is a spell working over her but she can still fight it. “'In the touch of this bosom there worketh a spell” (l. 267) In the second part of the poem, when Christabel takes Geraldine to meet her father, numerous Gothic element are presents. First off, when meeting Sir Leoline, Christabel's father, Geraldine has a vision about Christabel, and produces a hissing sound.
“The vision of fear, the touch and pain! ” (l. 453) “Again she felt that bosom cold, / And drew in her breath with a hissing sound” (l. 458-459). Another element that invokes fear and dread is Bracy the Bard's dream, about Christabel in danger. “I stooped, methought, the dove to take, / When lo! I saw a bright green snake / Coiled around its wings and neck. ” (l. 548-550). Here, Christabel is portrayed as a bird, and Geraldine most likely represents a snake. Nevertheless, Sir Leoline commanded the Bard to leave with Geraldine and take her home, putting his daughter's life in danger.
The lines I will finish the analysis with are: “A snake's small eye blinks dull and shy; And the lady's eyes they shrunk in her head, / Each shrunk up to a serpent's eye, / And with somewhat of malice, and more of dread / At Christabel she looked askance. ” (l. 583-587), depicting Geraldine's last look toward Christabel, when she turned into a snake, therefore causing Christabel to fall into a trance. The second piece of work in which I will analyze the Gothic elements is Frankenstein, written by Mary Shelley. Frankenstein, as well as Christabel, contains nearly all characteristics of a gothic novel.
There is the setting, in Geneva and the Swiss Alps mostly, then the plot – the crimes taking place, gruesome murders especially, the sole process of creating a monster and raising the dead. There are also typical gothic characters – we have a protagonist, an overachieving scientist who gains interest in creating a new life, a new species, and on the other hand, the monster as antagonist, a horrific creation. The atmosphere is dark and full of horror and mystery. The lines I will use to support my thesis are: “It was on a dreary night of November that I beheld the accomplishment of my toils.
It was already one in the morning; the rain pattered dismally against the panes, and my candle was nearly burnt out, when, by the glimmer of the half-extinguished light, I saw the dull yellow eye of the creature open; it breathed hard, and a convulsive motion agitated its limbs. ” (Shelley, M. , Frankenstein, p. 58) I think that this passage perfectly fits the pattern of Gothic elements. It was a dark, rainy night when Victor, locked in his laboratory, brought the creature to life. The horror that Victor felt upon seeing his creation was enormous.
“How can I describe my emotions at this catastrophe, or how delineate the wretch whom with such infinite pains and care I had endeavoured to form? ” (Shelley, M. , Frankenstein, p. 58) He felt desperate and guilty about what he had done. “Mingled with this horror, I felt the bitterness of disappointment”. (Shelley, M. , Frankenstein, p. 60) And then the real horror – the murders. Victor and Elizabeth, his wife, proceeded to their honeymoon, but the creature had waited for them. Victor was scared and anxious, “.. so soon as night obscured the shapes of objects, a thousand fears arose in my mind.
I was anxious and watchful.. ”, (Shelley, M. , Frankenstein, p. 240) and he had every right to be, because the monster took his revenge - “I heard a shrill and dreadful scream. It came from the room into which Elizabeth had retired. ”... “She was there, lifeless and inanimate, thrown across the bed.. ” (Shelley, M. , Frankenstein, p. 241) To conclude, I would like to point out that the use of Gothic elements in the Romantic literature was very broad and had a great role. Many writers took interest in the Gothic, mainly to produce a macabre and dreary atmosphere,
to create a sense of mystery and fear. “These writings create feelings of gloom, mystery, terror, suspense and fear as they seek to explore humanity’s dark side and arouse questions in mankind about good vs. evil, the role of the supernatural, the experience of fear or terror, and others. ” (Philips, A. “The Grotesque of the Gothic: From Poe to the Present”)3 All of these things we can connect to the works I have analyzed, Frankenstein and Christabel, and agree that they are among the best representatives of Gothic writings in the Romantic period.