In terms of fire/light as a symbol, how does this relate to the very beginning where Victor witnessed the tree being burnt by lightning?I am aware that fire/ light symbolize many things such as...

In terms of fire/light as a symbol, how does this relate to the very beginning where Victor witnessed the tree being burnt by lightning?

I am aware that fire/ light symbolize many things such as knowledge, life, relation to prometheus, etc. But I am very interested in the 'dual nature' of fire- meaning its destructive and beneficiary force.

how does that relate to this scene in the book?

Additionally, it says towards the end of the book in Walton's letters to his sister that "Frankenstein has daily declined in health: a feverish FIRE still glimmers in his eyes; but he is exhausted, and when suddenly roused to exertion, he speedily sinks again into apparent lifelessness.

How can the above shed light on that scene?

Thank You.

Expert Answers
Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Since we are engaging in an interpretation, it can be seen in many ways.  I have a tendency to see the opening scene of the tree being burnt by lightning as an example of how life forces can be destructive.  Natural and creative forces, such as the rain that accompanies lightning and thunder, can have unintended side effects that might result in destruction.  This might be akin to Victor's creative powers that result in the monster and its destruction.  There is a duality that is expressed in this idea.  It might also be a duality that is revealed throughout the novel in terms of Shelley's understanding of ideas.  The novel is a critique of the Enlightenment Era praising of science, which is demonstrated by Victor's realization that science is powerful and, if misused, this power is destructive.  The novel might also be a critique of Romanticism, in its idea that all creation is naturally beautiful and perfect.  Victor's creation is independent, away from society, and following his passion- all ideals of Romanticism.  Yet, the results are disastrous.  The lightning burning the tree might be a symbol for the duality that is present in nearly every entity:  Creation is met with destruction, fortune is confronted by misfortune.  This balance might explain Victor's state at the end.  His intensity is met with a decline in health, and, perhaps, some odd balance has been struck in his soul, where little concept of balance existed prior.

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Frankenstein

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