Discuss how romanticism is seen in Frankenstein by Mary Shelley.

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Victor, especially after the creation of his creature, is especially alive to the sublimity of nature. Walton describes him to his sister, saying,

Even broken in spirit as he is, no one can feel more deeply than he does the beauties of nature. The starry sky, the sea, and every sight afforded by these wonderful regions seem still to have the power of elevating his soul from earth. Such a man has a double existence: he may suffer misery and be overwhelmed by disappointments, yet when he has retired into himself, he will be like a celestial spirit that has a halo around him [...].

The Romantics believed in the positive effects of nature, that it could restore one to one's best self and improve one's spirits. It can produce intense and wonderful feelings that inspire the viewer. Victor is so affected by nature, here as well as throughout the story, and this is one very significant way that we see the tenets of Romanticism appear in the novel. However, this quotation also elevates the individual human being almost to the divine. Romanticism championed the individual's abilities, imagination, powers of creation, genius, emotion, and growth. When Walton describes Victor as though he is some kind of holy spirit or angel, he acknowledges this very Romantic way of viewing the individual.

We see a similar focus on Victor's descriptions of Elizabeth. He tells Walton that, when Elizabeth was a child,

She busied herself with following the aerial creations of the poets; and in the majestic and wondrous scenes which surrounded our Swiss home—the sublime shapes of the mountains, the changes of the seasons, tempest and calm, the silence of winter, and the life and turbulence of our Alpine summers—she found ample scope for admiration and delight. While my companion contemplated with a serious and satisfied spirit the magnificent appearances of things, I delighted in investigating their causes.

Notice that Elizabeth is very much aligned with Romantic values while Victor seems to be characterized much more by Enlightenment ones. She wants to create while he wants to discover. It is not Elizabeth's values and priorities that jeopardize the lives of her friends and family; instead, it is Victor's that lead to the misery and ruination of so many. In this way, Shelley seems to champion Romantic values over Enlightenment ones: emotion over logic, fellow-feeling and empathy over science.

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