Notes on Frankenstein Themes

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Frankenstein Topic Tracking: Nature


Nature 1: Natural beauty is often a soothing influence with the characters of the novel, particularly Frankenstein, and it is an important part of the Romantic influence. This appreciation of beauty in a novel so filled with brutality seems an odd contrast, but it is part of what makes this story a Romantic piece.

As Robert Walton prepares for his journey to the North Pole, the beauty of nature in St. Petersburg impresses him because he believes it is a hint of how glorious the North Pole will be. His excitement is heightened by the brisk and picturesque world around him, and in that way nature plays an important part in his journey to the North Pole.

Nature 2: Walton describes Frankenstein as completely broken-down by grief, but still able to appreciate the natural beauty of the world around him, which seems remarkable. A man destroyed by sorrow can still look up at the night sky and feel some sense of relief, happiness, or awe at the fabulous beauty that surrounds him. The grandeur of nature overwhelms human emotion and makes it seem small and insignificant in comparison to the great beauty of the world.

Chapters 7-12

Nature 3: Frankenstein was anxious about the changes in his homeland since he had been away for six years, so he spent a few days resting in a small town and letting the landscape of his country ease his worry. The familiar mountains, which seemed timeless when compared to the span of human life, calmed his worries. Nature makes us feel small and unimportant because we last such a short time in comparison to the mountains, rivers, and trees around us, so whatever we are experiencing must be miniscule as well.

Nature 4: Frankenstein, so distraught by his responsibility for William and Justine's deaths, often went out onto the lake near his home after his family was asleep. The lake was so lovely that he often wanted to dive into it and let it wash over him forever. He wanted to become a part of nature that was beautiful and calm instead of being what he was, a man riddled with guilt and fear.

Nature 5: On his day trip to a mountaintop near Chamounix, the beauty of the landscape around him impressed Frankenstein and it eased his depression for a while. He looked at the majestic mountains, their size and strength, and felt revived. Nature once again overwhelmed his senses and manipulated his emotions with its beauty.

Nature 6: When the monster told his story to Frankenstein, he talked about appreciating the beauty of nature early on in his life experience. He enjoyed the birdsong and the beauty of the forest before he encountered humanity and he was happy. Nature itself, before he even knew what it was, made the monster happy.

Chapters 13-18

Nature 7: The monster's first spring was lively and beautiful to him. It lifted his spirits and eased his loneliness because the world around him was so lovely. He was lonely, but he wasn't completely unhappy because nature soothed his spirits with blossoms and birdsong.

Nature 8: After the De Lacey's chased him away and he was shot while saving a woman from drowning, the monster no longer took comfort in the natural beauty of the world because humanity made it ugly for him. The imperfection of human beings marred the glory of nature.

Nature 9: Traveling along the Rhine on their way to England, Henry and Frankenstein were both impressed by the beauty of their surroundings. It seemed that Henry was more affected by the scenery than was Frankenstein. Frankenstein remembered Henry's passion for natural beauty as one of the more tender and wonderful aspects of his dear friend. Henry's character may possess qualities of Lord Byron, who was a Romantic poet as well as a friend of Mary Shelley and her husband.

Chapters 19-24

Nature 10: On their honeymoon trip to Evian, Elizabeth seemed sad, so she tried to cheer herself with the beauty of their surroundings, but to no avail. As if she had some premonition of her approaching death, the beauty of the earth could not cheer Elizabeth that day. As powerful as nature's influence is, Elizabeth was unmoved by the things around her because Death cast a shadow over the scenery.

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