Frankenstein and the Power of Nature


“There is a way that nature speaks, the land speaks. Most of the time we are simply not patient enough, quiet enough, to pay attention to the story.”

-Linda Hogan

Have you ever awoken to a cold, rainy day and wanted to pull up the covers and go back to bed? Or maybe been feeling down about something, and stepped outside into the gorgeous sunshine and instantly felt renewed? If you have, then you know exactly what Mary Shelley knew and portrayed in her Gothic novel Frankenstein: that nature is a source of power.

“Shelley purposely juxtaposes the image of Mother Nature with the ghastly manifestation of a man-made monster and his actions”( Academic Help). From what I have read so far, I see Mother Nature as more than just a backdrop to the characters, but a character herself. Nature seems to be an important role in Robert Walton, Victor Frankenstein, and the Monster’s lives; acting as a central thread between all the characters and their stories.

The steep plot of this book allows readers to think about the issue of challenging nature.  Nature’s secrets are best kept untold. If we attempted to trespass what we call life and death, things can get as disastrous as they did for Victor Frankenstein. Victor’s desire to challenge the secrets of nature, provokes his dismal future. “I have always described myself as always having been imbued with a fervent longing to penetrate the secrets of nature” (Shelley 34). Nature sets the scene as Frankenstein “beheld the accomplishment of his toils” and created the third major character of the book; The Monster (Shelley 58).  When Victor describes his childhood, he describes his love and appreciation for nature- especially lightning- which amazed him. He describes himself examining an old oak tree that had been struck by lightning and “utterly destroyed”. As a child, Victor understood how powerful Mother Nature can be, but as he grows older he ignores this. “The moon gazed on my midnight labours, while, with unrelaxed and breathless eagerness, I pursued nature to her hiding places” (Shelley 43). Frankenstein defies Nature and awakens the dead.

Nature also provides a dramatic influence on Robert Walton’s letters. The robust beauty of the arctic attracts Walton to keep his spirits high and achieve his goal of reaching the North Pole. Walton describes to his sister the icy Northern sea and fragile glacial ice that covers the water, which gives me the impression that Shelley is referring to Walton’s distraught mind and therefore Frankenstein’s, as they are very much alike.

The natural setting in Frankenstein seems to very carefully chosen by Shelley, as it is strategically woven into the story. Nature plays an important part in reinforcing the plot and the characters. Although Nature is not technically alive, in this book Mother Nature acts a main character influencing the decisions of the characters. I have not yet reached the part in in the book that is narrated by The Monster, but based on what I have read so far, I believe that Mother Nature will also have a big part in his story as well.

 

Works Cited

“Linda Hogan Quotes (Author of Solar Storms).” Goodreads, Goodreads, www.goodreads.com/author/quotes/94917.Linda_Hogan.

Shelley, Mary. Frankenstein. Penguin Publishing Group, 2013.

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