How do Romantic concerns with nature and community  figure into chapters 1-10 of Frankenstein?

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scarletpimpernel eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Shelley demonstrates several Romantic tendencies in her first ten chapters.  First, Victor begins as a Romantic; he believes in the supernatural, and becomes obsessed with authors who practiced or promoted metaphysical realms.

The reader can easily see why Victor would have Romantic tendencies because his father and mother embody a Romantic family concerned with bettering its community.  Victor's father Alphonse marries Caroline because his good friend (Caroline's father) has left her a penniless orphan.  She, in turn, takes in Elizabeth out of a sense of duty and helping someone less fortunate than she is.  Likewise, Victor's friend Henry who represents a true Romantic is always ready to help Victor and others during their times of distress.  When one reads further and gets to the DeLacey family's story, he or she will notice how they also represent a traditional Romantic family, showing the spirit of community and a love for nature.

In regards to Shelley's Idealistic or Romantic portrayal of nature in the first 10 chapters, consider how significantly Victor is affected by a natural event, the destruction of a tree by lightning.  He states that when he was fifteen and watched the incident, the "current of his ideas" (26) was changed.  Romantic writers often emphasize nature's ability to teach humans lessons.

Additionally, when Victor awakens from his fever which was induced by seeing his creation come to life, Henry encourages him to proposes a walking tour of the countryside to renew Victor's spirits.  Victor's time in nature soothes his spirit, and he feels that "a serene sky and verdant fields filled [him] with ecstasy" (56).

To establish other Romantic elements in Frankenstein, look for how characters behave when they are out of the city and roaming the countryside.

 

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Frankenstein

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