The novel Frankenstein, by Mary Shelley is an excellent example of the Romantic Movement. The movement took place in the period from the late 1700’s to the mid-1800; it emphasized passion rather than reason and imagination and intuition rather than logic. One of the key concepts most Romantic writers used was, nature is a source of inspiration. They believed that people who lived in an industrialized area were unhappy because the environment around them was not full of the beautiful gifts of nature.
While people who lived in the countryside all their lives were full of happiness as a result of their surroundings. This concept is beautifully brought out in Frankenstein. Having this concept in the novel makes the narrative more powerful, this is because the impact of the narrative is heightened when the environment of what is going on corresponds with the emotions of characters in it. It also makes it more powerful by making the reader feel more emotions over the reading. The following are a few examples of the ways Shelley expresses this concept in the novel.
One way Shelley shows nature as an inspiration is through the geography of the settings. In the beginning of the novel when Victor lives in Geneva it is described, as isolated and dwarfed by massive snow capped mountain ranged and hunted be the emptiness of the lake. Later on in the novel and in the letters in the beginning Shelly puts the characters in the wildest, most isolated areas in Europe: The Swiss and French Alps, the Rhine Valley, the Outer Hebrides of Scotland, Northern Ireland, Russia and the Arctic.
When the reader reads about these various places they get a feeling of isolation and that of loneliness, exactly what Shelly wants them to be feeling. When Victor was 15 years-old nature inspired him as to what field of study to get into. His inspiration came when at his house in Geneva he witnessed “ a stream of fire issue from an old and beautiful oak which stood about twenty yards from our house; and so soon as the dazzling light vanished, the oak had disappeared, and nothing remained but a blasted stump” (Shelley 26).
From this event he moved away from his old field of study, natural philosophy, and moved to his new one natural phenomenon. He especially took to the field of, “mathematics and the branch of study appertaining to that science as being built upon strong foundations, and so worthy of my considerations” (Shelley 27). The night of the creation of Frankenstein’s monster “was on a dreary night of November” and as he worked on it “the rain pattered dismally against the panes,” (Shelly 42). He created him by candle light in an isolated part of an old house.
This environment corresponds to the state of mind and heart of the creator at that time. The dark surroundings in this chapter also emphasis the brain fever Victor gets after the creation of his monster. Later in the novel he gets cheered up when he takes a walk in the springtime. About the walk he says, “my own spirits were high and I bounded along with feelings of unbridled joy and hilarity” (Shelley 55). Then a little later he joins up with the monster on the summit of Mont Blanc when a storm is going on.
The environment just like that in the creation of the monster, puts dread in the reader and also shows what is going on inside of Victor’s mind and heart. Victor is so upset in the chapter 9 that he decides to go to the Alps to ease his soul. He believes the nature in the Alps will cause him to get in a joyful mood. Then in Chapter 10 he meets up with the monster again. This time, like the other time, the environment they met each other is one of a rainstorm, Victor says that, “the rain poured down from the dark sky and added to the melancholy impression I received from the objects around me” (Shelley 81).
The setting was also full of jutting rocks, broken, and blastered trees. This setting has the same affect as the last one they met each other in. In chapter 18 Victor is so depressed about having to create a woman for his monster that even the country side and mountains can not make him happy because he is, “haunted by a curse that shut up every avenue of enjoyment” (Shelley 140). At the end of the novel in chapter 23 Frankenstein’s monster kills Elizabeth during a windy and stormy night. This storm gets the reader ready for the event that followed, her death.
The storm puts dread in the reader and also represents what Victor is feeling. This novel shows the concept of nature being an inspiration very well. If it does not inspire the characters in the book it is inspiring the readers to feel the emotions that Shelly wants them to, nature has a powerful affect on people. When Shelley wants to inspire the readers she sometimes has the setting of the action correspond to how a character is feeling. Her ways of conveying this Romantic concept are excellent.