Examine the significance of nature in Frankenstein.  How does nature affect the state of mind of Victor Frankenstein?

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Ashley Kannan eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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On one level, I think that a clear argument could be made that nature is significant in Shelley's work because it represents a restorative condition. Nature is equated with restoring that which was once healthy.  Victor's state of mind associates nature with a pristine condition.  It is telling that the man of science sees something beyond rational clutches in the natural setting.  Victor's state of mind is predisposed to seeing nature as pure and representative of holistic:

I feel pleasure in dwelling on the recollections of childhood, before misfortune had tainted my mind, and changed its bright visions of extensive usefulness into gloomy and narrow reflections upon self . . . I find it arise, like a mountain river, from ignoble and almost forgotten sources; but swelling as it proceeded, it became the torrent which, in its course, has swept away all my hopes and joys. 

The "mountain river" contains a condition of being that is beyond what Victor can ever replicate.  Nature is a domain of childhood innocence for Victor:  "I dreamt that I wandered in flowery meadows and pleasant vales with the friends of my youth . . ."  Nature is a domain that Victor can only aspire, a star in the constellation that guides his very being because it is a part of it. This is how it impacts his state of mind.  For Victor, the power of the natural world is key to his own restoration when the trials of his creation begin to take him over: "We passed a fortnight in these perambulations: my health and spirits had long been restored, and they gained additional strength from the salubrious air I breathed, the natural incidents of our progress."  Victor's state of mind is one that associates nature with the very best of healing qualities. Nature is developed as a refuge from the world, a place where restoration is evident.  In this regard, Shelley embraces a view of nature commonly associated with the Romantic thinkers.

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