Mary Shelley incorporates nature many times throughout Frankenstein. List some examples and explain why the author includes them.

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scarletpimpernel eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Shelley, like most Romantic writers, uses nature to represent characters' emotions or state of mind and to reflect the morality or immorality of characters' actions.


1. The novel begins with Walton's letters to his sister.  Before he reaches the Arctic and becomes entrenched in ice, his portrayal of nature is romanticized.  He finds the ride of the sled across the Russian snow "pleasant" and thinks that the Arctic breeze against his cheeks is a "wind of hope."

2. For Victor, nature is idyllic and soothing.  In Chapters 6 and 7 when Henry helps Victor recover from his fever which followed the Monster's "birth," Victor is calmed and almost forgets his problems when he takes walks throughout the countryside.  Likewise, weather mirrors his emotions.  On the night that he gives life to the creature, it is stormy and remains dreary through the next day (Chapter 5). When he begins to awaken from his fever and illness, it is spring with the hope of new leaves, symbolizing a new beginning.

3.  In contrast to these more positive views of nature, every time Victor encounters the creature, the weather is harsh.  He is on a frigid glacier when he sees the monster for the first time after Ingolstadt (Chapter 5). It is a stormy night when he destroys the she monster and then heads out on the water to "bury" her; all of this occurs while the monster murders Henry.  Shelley uses this pathetic fallacy to demonstrate that when characters go against nature (Victor by creating life and Walton by thinking he's superior to nature), nature unleashes her worst against them.

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