In the novel Frankenstein By Mary Shelley, Shelley uses the theme of nature and weather throughout the book. Shelley uses these themes in the novel to express her message in a clear way to the readers. The impact of nature on mood is prominent all through the story. The nature and weather both affect Victor Frankenstein and the creature in many different ways. In the novel Frankenstein, Mary Shelley uses weather and nature to mirror the way characters act and feel throughout the book.
Throughout the novel Frankenstein, Mary Shelley uses weather and nature to reflect the emotions and actions of Victor Frankenstein. Mary Shelley states, “I feel pleasure in dwelling on the recollections of childhood, before misfortune had tainted my mind, and changed its bright visions of extensive usefulness into gloomy and narrow reflections upon self . . . I find it arise, like a mountain river, from ignoble and almost forgotten sources; but swelling as it proceeded, it became the torrent which, in its course, has swept away all my hopes and joys (Shelley, 21). Mary Shelley utilizes nature to restore health and strength to Victor Frankenstein. When grieving the loss of friends and family members, Victor avoids humans and seeks tranquility and health in nature to strengthen his soul and mind. Mary Shelley uses the mountain river to illustrate the feelings Victor possesses in the beginning of the story that are sustained throughout the novel. The use of comparing human emotions to nature in the novel portrays how Mary Shelley prefers using metaphors of nature in her text instead of using descriptions. Rather than blatantly describing Victor Frankenstein’s feeling and emotions, Shelley uses the image of the mountain river as a metaphor that relates to how Victor feels. Further into the novel, Victor Frankenstein uses nature as his personal therapy when he is stressed or tormented by the creature. Shelley begins to build a relationship between Victor and nature. She also begins to use the weather and nature to describe Victor’s mood instead of using metaphors. Shelley states, “We passed a fortnight in these perambulations: my health and spirits had long been restored, and they gained additional strength from the salubrious air I breathed, the natural incidents of our progress . . .” (Shelley, 43). The air is not just used to help Victor breathe and live, but is also used as strength that he has never had before. Mary Shelley includes the word “salubrious”, which means “to bring to health”, in her text to portray how Victor’s health and strength is being restored. Throughout Frankenstein, nature is what keeps Victor Frankenstein alive and well, not humans. Mary Shelley illustrates the purpose of nature after the death of Victor’s brother, William, and the family’s servant, Justine. Williams death, having been murdered by the creature, affects Victor deeply. Victor’s depression does not allow him to find comfort in Henry, so he goes to his family in Geneva to find comfort in nature. Mary Shelley writes, “The road ran by the side of the lake, which became narrower as I approached my native town. I discovered more distinctly the black sides of Jura, and the bright summit of Mont Blanc. I wept like a child: 'Dear mountains! My own beautiful lake! How do you welcome your wanderer? Your summits are clear; the sky and lake are blue and placid. Is this to prognosticate peace or to mock at my unhappiness?” (Shelley, 47). They way Victor reacts to nature and Mont Blanc is used in the novel to express how nature brings him happiness and strength. Victor realizes on his way to Geneva that seeing his family does not help his mood change. Victor's relationship with nature runs deeper than the relationship he has with his family, friends, or any other human beings.
In Frankenstein, Mary Shelley also uses weather and nature to reflect the emotions and actions of the creature. The arctic setting that is utilized in Mary Shelley's novel is a mirror to the emotions of the creature. The Arctic is known for its cold weather and secluded conditions. Victor Frankenstein's creation flees to the Arctic to separate himself from society after being rejected by humans. The Arctic signifies isolation and painful emotions the creature deals with. Shelley says 'The whole village roused; some fled, some attacked me, until, grievously bruised by stones and many other kinds of missile weapons, I escaped to the open country, and fearfully took refuge' (Shelley, 70-71). Seeing how all of the humans rejected him, resulted in the creature fleeing to the Arctic and in addition to being neglected by his own creator, he is also neglected by all of mankind. Mary Shelley utilizes the Arctic setting in the novel to give insight into the creatures life and mind. The creature explains, 'Food, however became scarce, and I often spent the whole day searching in vain for a few acorns to assuage the pangs of hunger' (Shelley, 70). This reveals the conditions the creature has to deal with living in the Arctic. It also shows how the creature is unaware about his environment which makes it harder for him to recognize his identity and purpose. The same way the Arctic lacks basic needs, is the same way the creature lacks companionship. Mary Shelley uses the creature as a symbol of the Arctic. She uses the Arctic to represent the unwantedness of the creature. The creature describes the experience in the winter as a painful onel while searching for shelter and dry land to protect him from the cold weather. Mary Shelley portrayed the creatures feelings when she wrote 'A great fall of snow had taken place the night before and the fields were of one uniform white, the appearance disconsolate and I found my feet chilled by the cold damp substance that covered the ground' (Shelley, 70). Shelley illustrates the incomprehensible emotions that the creature possesses and the arctic environment that was necessary to understand the monster.
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In the novel Frankenstein, Mary Shelley uses weather and nature to reflect the way the characters act and feel at specific points throughout the story. The weather and nature in Frankenstein is used as a source of peace and sanity for Victor and a way to also mirror the creatures emotions throughout the story. Mary Shelley uses the emotions and feelings of the creature and Victor Frankenstein in the novel to express romanticism. The creature is a romantic hero because of the rejection he deals with from society which makes Mary Shelley’s story a Romantic novel.
- Shelley, Mary Wollstonecraft. Frankenstein. New York: Dover Publications, 1994.
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