Does the geographical movement of the novel have metaphoric, thematic, or symbolic application? What is the significance of ice, wind, winter, northern locations, darkness, etc...?
There is much symbolism in Frankenstein in regards to geography, ice, wind, darkness, etc. Firstly, the whole story of Victor Frankenstein and his monster creation is told aboard Walton's boat near the North Pole. There is a lot of striking imagery involved, from the harsh, cold, and desolate landscape, the loneliness that one must feel being so far from home, the never ending silence despite the whistling of the wind over the ice...what other places on earth can evoke such a feeling of aloneness, or provide such descriptive imagery in few words? Why is this landscape so important to the story?
This imagery of ice, wind, and darkness is very symbolic in its relationship to the monster, because the monster is the only one of its kind, and therefore alone in it's search for meaning in life. Even though the monster is able to learn language, to read, to understand people, to know right from wrong, to feel anger, loneliness, compassion, rejection..., he is still unable to find companionship in the company of humans because of his physical size and appearance. The monster is as alone in the De Lacey hut among the De Lacey's, as he is when he travels along the barren ice of the North Pole.
Though Frankenstein is a frame narrative, beginning and ending on Walton's boat, much of the story takes place among many different towns in various countries, effectively portraying that no matter where one travels, what culture or customs people practice, or even how educated one may be, no place on earth is very different from another. Human kind are selfish and self-possessed, just as Victor was in giving this creature life, only to abandon it immediately because of it's hideous appearance. Though the monster tried to remain good, the response that he received from everyone he encountered taught him that there was no hope for him in this world without a mate. When Victor destroyed the potential mate he was creating for the monster, the monster realized that there never would be any life for him, and as he travels through the North Pole to die, the landscape mirrors his feelings.