How does the beauty of nature play a role in Frankenstein?
As was mentioned in the previous post, Mary Shelley was a Romantic author who valued and appreciated the natural environment. Throughout her novel Frankenstein, characters find peace and tranquility in their hectic lives when they travel and experience nature. Victor Frankenstein continually vacations and hikes through various natural environments where he finds solace in nature. After creating the horrific monster, Victor is severely depressed and even becomes delirious. However, Victor recovers and finds pleasure in nature by traveling to the same forests he used to play in as a child. Shelley writes,
"It was during an access of this kind that I suddenly left my home, and bending my steps towards the near Alpine valleys, sought in the magnificence, the eternity of such scenes, to forget myself and my ephemeral, because human, sorrows" (106).
Victor delights in the fresh air and the majestic views of the mountains. Nature frees Victor's mind from his oppressive memories which continually haunt him. The natural environment reminds Victor of pleasant memories and continually revives him throughout the novel. Shelley believed that nature had a positive effect on individuals who took the time to enjoy the outdoors and explore their natural environment.
As Mary Shelley was married to one of the foremost Romantic poets, it is clear that her novel (which some suspect of having been heavily influenced by her husband) would refer to Romanticism in its themes and presentation. Clearly this is obvious through the portrayal of nature, and in particular the way that Victor Frankenstein finds relief and peace when he is in places of natural beauty that act as brief respite from the turmoils of his life and his actions. Note, for example, how nature is described in Chapter VI as Frankenstein journeys back from university to his home after having created the monster:
A serene sky and verdant fields filled me with ecstasy... I was undisturbed by thoughts which during the preceding year had pressed upon me, notwithstanding my efforts to throw them off, with an unvincible burden.
Again and again in the novel at points when Frankenstein is losing his humanity he returns to the majesty of nature to restore that humanity, and it is an interesting exercise to go through the novel and note down the places where he talks about nature and its restorative impact on his soul. The presentation of nature clearly indicates the Romantic idea that nature has a healing impact on us as humans, and is restorative.