A classic gothic novel emphasises fear and terror. It has the presence of the supernatural, the placements of events within a distant time and an unfamiliar and mysterious setting. Romantic writer Mary Shelley's novel Frankenstein conforms to these conventional "classic" Gothic traits as well as to the modern conceptions of what is considered as Gothic. Shelley's Frankenstein is host to a range of significant gothic elements, evident through Victor's creation of the gigantic creature, the dark setting of the novel, set in places of gloom and horror, and the disempowered portrayal of females, in which women are threatened by the tyranny of males and are often in distress. Omens, portents and visions are also evident in the novel, further enhancing the Gothicism found in the novel. Frankenstein is defined as a Gothic novel through the many Gothic aspects it features. The connections, and relevance it has to today's modern society and the lessons that can be learned from it, is what classifies it as being classic.
In her 1831 introduction, Shelley declares her desire to think of a story which would speak to the "mysterious fears of our nature and awaken thrilling horror " one to "curdle the blood, and quicken the beatings of the heart". This is the first indication that Frankenstein should be placed primarily in the genre of Gothic. However, its concerns with radical social reform, along with the workings of the imagination and an interest in nature, Frankenstein identifies itself as a classic Gothic novel with important links to the Romantic movement. Romanticism, a movement of the late eighteenth century to the mid-nineteenth century was seen as a "new age of justice" and "a new beginning", believing in the "perfectibility of human race". The period was a rejection of Classicism, a period which admired for the ordered and cultivated, opting instead for the wild and untamed aspect of nature.