Comp II (H)
Romantic Isn't It?
Analyzing a book can be a killer. Especially when it contains tons of subtle little messages and hints that are not picked up unless one really dissects the material. Mary Shelley's Frankenstein is a prime example. It is analyzed by scholars all the time because of the subtle messages it sends through its themes, one of which needs to be discussed that is called Romanticism. Romanticism dealt with simplifying things as a break from the previous age which deal with grandeur. Romantics highly valued nature as well as isolation for salvation and healing. Frankenstein has all of these elements but some are more muted than others. There are also subtle nods to other works or the Romantic era throughout the book. However, let's start with obvious examples of Romanticism.
Romanticism deals a lot with elements and how they affect human beings. In the very beginning of the story, Captain Walton finds Victor nearly dead after his ship is stuck in a sea of ice, where he says, "...and we beheld, stretched out in every direction, vast and irregular plains of ice, which seemed to have no end." (12). Ice symbolizes death and pain or illness in Romantic novels. This shows there is no coincidence in Victor's state of being and the environment they are in at the time. This is also one of those subtle nods towards former works Shelley had read. For anyone who has read "The Rime of the Ancient Mariner" (another Romantic work), his ship was stuck in a sea of ice as well. This theme of nature directly affecting, displaying, and sometimes even predicting, things that will happen in the novel is very much the Romantic style. We still use nature as symbols all the time as well. Fung Shua deals with using plants and other things of nature as symbols that balance energy in the house. Many people today swear by this method and believe that only one misplaced plant in a room can send a person into a downward spiral in many aspects of their life.
Yet another easy example of Romantic style nature is that of just before and up to Victor's trek up Montanvert after he is grieving over the death of his brother. He says, "Dear Mountains My own beautiful lake How do you welcome your wanderer? Your summits are clear; the sky and lake are blue and placid. Is this to prognosticate peace, or to mock at my unhappiness?" (52). This statement brings out a new view of Romanticism. The Romantics viewed nature as an entity all its own, a god amongst men for instance. Victor thinks that nature is mocking him with all its beauty because of the ugliness that he has marred it with by playing God. This "mocking" truly hurts Victor after his creation has just murdered his brother William.
The Creature also has his views of nature but they are far more nurturing and healing than the images that Victor receives. When the creature begins to tell his tale to Victor at the top of the mountain the reader begins to get a mental picture of how much differently the Creature views things than Victor. This is really the reader's first taste of the Creature actually being kind hearted and the character that is sympathized with rather than Victor who can not take responsibility for his actions. This is one of those allusions to a pre-Romantic era work called "Paradise Lost". It is the book the creature learns to read by and in true Romantic style, the apparent antagonist becomes the protagonist in the reader's eyes. The creature tells us that, "I was delighted when I first discovered that a pleasant sound, which often saluted my ears, proceeded from the throats of the little winged animals who had often intercepted the light from my eyes." (76). This vivid description that the creature gives of the forest and how it excites his emotions is completely different than that of Victor. Nature truly loves this Creature as it does all things. It heals the creature's mental and...
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