Mary Shelley’s novel falls squarely within Romantic preoccupations about the solitary nature of the human soul, including the creative spirt or genius that drives people. These concerns are indicated by the subtitle of The Modern Prometheus. Victor Frankenstein, his creature, and Robert Walton each exemplifies in his own way this lonely, troubled genius. Frankenstein also exemplifies the Romantic glorification of nature and its inspiring, restorative force.
After Victor contemplates with horror his culminating achievement, the creature he has brought to life, he is seized with remorse. The emotion of isolation he had previously felt is further enhanced by his sense of guilt, which prompts him to flee from society.
I wandered like an evil spirit, for I had committed deeds of mischief beyond description horrible ... I had begun life with benevolent intentions, and thirsted for the moment when I should put them in practice, and make myself useful to my fellow-beings. Now ... I was seized by remorse and the sense of guilt, which hurried me away to a hell of intense tortures ... (Chapter 9)
Walton likewise feels deeply the harshness of a solitary existence, as he writes his sister:
I have one want which I have never yet been able to satisfy; and the absence of the object of which I now feel as a most severe evil. I have no friend, Margaret ... You may deem me romantic, my dear sister, but I bitterly feel the want of a friend. (Letter 2)
The creature, condemned by his liminal status, is even more solitary than either of the men. As he implores Victor, his creator, to welcome him with some show of affection, he emphasizes that he is essentially good as humans are. His use of “benevolent” echoes Victor’s words quoted above.
Believe me, Frankenstein: I was benevolent; my soul glowed with love and humanity: but am I not alone, miserably alone? (Chapter 10)
Nature is an inspiration and a healing force is shown by Victor’s recovery. As he regains his strength after the illness that acknowledging his failed experiment caused, he sets off on mountain “rambles” with his friend Henry. Soon, he feels almost like his old self.
... my health and spirits had long been restored, and they gained additional strength from the salubrious air I breathed ... happy, inanimate nature had the power of bestowing on me the most delightful sensations. A serene sky and verdant fields filled me with ecstasy. (Chapter 6)
As the creature is Victor’s alter ego, the type of natural landscape where he finds solace is likewise the opposite of the welcoming environment that inspires humans. The creature tells Victor,
The desert mountains and dreary glaciers are my refuge. I have wandered here many days; the caves of ice, which I only do not fear, are a dwelling to me, and the only one which man does not grudge. (Chapter 10)