What role might nature play for Victor in Frankenstein? In regards to the fact that during his summer experiment, Victor admits "his eyes were insensible to the charms of nature."
The role of nature, in Mary Shelley's novel Frankenstein, presents itself as one of the major themes depicted throughout the novel. While Elizabeth is far more enamored by nature, "She busied herself with ... 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," Victor was far more enamored with science.
For example, when Victor first became overly interested in science, a lightning strike to a tree was responsible for peaking Victor's interest. Instead of being drawn to the natural elements of nature, Victor was drawn to the scientific aspects of it.
I never beheld anything so utterly destroyed. Before this I was not unacquainted with the more obvious laws of electricity.
Unlike Elizabeth, who would have been intrigued by the power of nature, Victor ignores the power and, instead, focuses upon the scientific aspects of it. Victor proves, again and again, that the natural world is of no importance to him. His utter dismissing of nature proves to be his tragic flaw in the end.
Although Victor tends to ignore nature, nature does not ignore Victor. it seems that every time Victor falls into his incurable illnesses (seen after he creates the monster, after William, Justine and Clerval's deaths), nature is what brings him out of his despair. Therefore, although Victor fails to recognize the importance of nature, nature never once backs down from Victor (showing its power to regenerate season after season and remain unchanged no matter how much time has passed).
Victor's great problem, for which he is punished, is that he wants to control and exercise mastery over nature rather than appreciate it as displaying God's order and glory. Like Prometheus—and the novel is subtitled The Modern Prometheus—Victor wants to take over God's role in the universe and create life out of inanimate objects. As he puts it:
I have always ... been imbued with a fervent longing to penetrate the secrets of nature.
It is symptomatic of Victor's desire to penetrate nature and his refusal to appreciate God's nature that he shuts himself up in morgues and his tower, working to bring death to life. This task destroys his health, because his ambitions are outside of any alignment with nature. If he had stopped isolating himself, ceased working incessantly, and had instead taken time to enjoy the natural world, he might have cleared his head enough to question his own ambitions.
Instead, he creates a creature who is a hideous contrast (though it has a soul that longs for love) to the beautiful lakes and mountains surrounding Victor. Because of his going to extremes in deciding to control nature, Victor is condemned to chasing through the extreme regions of nature in the Arctic, trying to destroy what he has created.
Mary Shelley very much appreciated nature and describes it in loving terms; Victor fails to properly appreciate it.
Victor's ability or inability to recognize the beauties of nature indicates a correctness or a lack of correctness in his thinking and/or priorities in any given moment. Prior to the "birth" of his creature, he is so obsessed with his experiment that he becomes totally insensible to nature; he does not even seem to notice it. After his creature comes to life, Victor falls incredibly ill, but, when he wakes, one of the first things he notices is that lovely spring has begun. He remains quite alive to nature's beauties as he travels home and reprioritizes his family and friends over his devotion to science. However, once he commits to making a mate for his first creature, he becomes, once again, unable to see nature's beauties. As he and Henry travel through Europe, Henry marvels at the natural scenes, but those same scenes have no effect on Victor. This signals his mental shift.