Throughout the novel, Frankenstein: The Modern Prometheus, Mary Shelley utilizes nature to symbolize distinct moods of various characters in the book. Nature was often associated with seclusiveness in a positive way. The association of nature and solitude is visible through three distinctive characters in the story: Victor Frankenstein, Elizabeth Lavenza, and Victor’s creature. At times when the characters were alone and in need of companionship, feeling dispirited, confused, and offended, they explored refuge in nature. They strive to use its beauty to find answers and fill their emptiness of friendship. Nature overpowers mankind with its existence. Shelley uses the theme of nature to reflect the state and conscious of Victor, Elizabeth, and the creature to show that knowledge can be found in nature no matter the situation.
Victor Frankenstein frequently walks through various natural environments where he finds tranquility and philosophy through nature. He sees nature as place where he can recover and finds pleasure in by traveling to the same forests he used to as a child. Victor appreciates the fresh air and the marvelous views of the mountains. Victor Frankenstein claims,
“I was capable of a more intense application, and was more deeply smitten with the thirst for knowledge… The world to me was a secret which I had desired to divine. Curiosity, earnest research to learn the hidden laws of nature, gladness akin to rapture, as they were unfolded to me, are among the earliest sensations I can remember” (Shelley, Chapter 2).
Nature frees Victor’s mind from his inhuman memories which constantly haunt him. The natural environment reminds Victor of cheerful memories and continually revives him throughout the novel. Shelley believed that nature had a positive reaction on individuals who took the time to enjoy the environment and explore the natural scenery. After Victor read the letter that stated William’s death, his brother, during the time Victor is returning to Geneva to talk to his father he claims, “I contemplated the lake: the waters were placid; all around was calm; and snowy mountains the palaces of nature were not changed. By degrees the calm and heavenly scene restored me” (Shelley Chapter 7). Victor Frankenstein seems to find alleviation in the presence of the different sides of nature. Once again, Victor returns to the beautiful mountains and brilliant streams in order to receive immense easement. This artistic scene had a calming effect on his most recent disruption. It allowed him to redirect his mind from the horror that was right before him. He seeks relaxation and he finds it by contemplating the magnificent things around him. Victor is constantly reminded of his troubles, but just the thought of his peace of mind makes him forget about his present problems. Nature helps Victor endure with pain, he absorbed nature’s scenes and is distracted from his pain and discomfort.
Elizabeth Lavenza is an important character in Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. She is also the most meaningful person in Victor’s life for many reasons. Not only is she beautiful, she is also submissive and docile. Elizabeth is aware of her role in the household and she fulfilled her duties as a supportive cousin, sister and daughter. Always concerned for her family, she is willing to do anything to ensure their happiness. “She indeed veiled her grief and strove to act the comforter to us all. She looked steadily on life and assumed its duties with courage and zeal” (Shelley Chapter 3). Elizabeth accepts that death is a natural process experienced by every human. She uses her relatives death’s to build strength for herself to continue in life and to comfort her family. Victor finds satisfaction investigating natures causes whereas Elizabeth accepts knowledge as a way of natural being. Victor expresses,
“She busied herself with following the aerial creations of the poets; and in the majestic and wondrous scenes which surrounded our Swiss home–the sublime shapes of the mountains; the changes of the seasons; tempest and calm; the silence of winter, and the life and turbulence of our Alpine summers–she found ample scope for admiration and delight” (Shelley, Chapter 2 ).
It is quite clear that in this passage Elizabeth is seen as a passive being. She is serious, but is only being delighted and admiring of the things around her. Elizabeth displays that nature is beautiful just the way it is and that it should not be questioned. What we see, hear, and experience at every moment can change a negative atmosphere to a positive atmosphere. The most elementary aspects of the physical world are the changes of the seasons, the sublime shapes of the mountains, and the silence of winter are more than enough for Elizabeth. She is content to passively admire mother nature.
Abandoned by its creator, Victor Frankenstein, Frankenstein’s creature is compelled to seek another parental figure. It finds one in Mother nature. As the creature embarks on a deserted journey, nature teaches him the lessons that Frankenstein did not. The creature is walking in complete darkness but as he is attempting to find shelter it realizes that the moon does allow the night to be lit and uses the light as a guide through his path. The creature identifies the moon as a pleasurable object to take notice of. He mentions, “Soon a gentle light stole over the heavens and gave me a sensation of pleasure. I started up and beheld a radiant form rise from among the trees. The moon I gazed with a kind of wonder. It moved slowly, but it enlightened my path” (Shelley Chapter 11). The creature learns that nature has a lot of things to offer him which make him feel good. As he was being guided by the light of the moon, feeling indifferent he found comfort by the warmth and light in such a dark and cold place. “One day when I was oppressed by cold, I found which had been left by some wandering beggars, and was overcome with delight at the warmth I experienced from it” (Shelley Chapter 11). The creature found an abandoned fire in the woods as he was in search of comfort and a peaceful place. Since no one else is there for him, and nature provides him with food, drink, shelter, and light, the creature seems to appreciate and find comfort in nature. The creature sees that nature has more to give than just trees and wildlife. He learns that nature is capable of giving him guidance, peace, and knowledge through it’s offerings.
Being in nature, or even viewing scenes of it, reduces anger, fear, stress and increases pleasant feelings. This was conveyed by these three characters Victor Frankenstein, Elizabeth, and the creature. Mary Shelley depicted a story in where nature was seen differently by these characters in which they found comfort, peace, and knowledge of the environment around them. She had the idea that nature is suppose to be a place where people can put their emotions at ease. Nature helped them relieve their mind to deal with the emotional things that happen in life. in life. Victor found it pleasant to be in the woods when he was going through hard times. Elizabeth accepted nature as how it was and did not question why things were the way they were. The creature found a home in nature where he felt save safe from people who did not accept him for being different. Overall nature provided things that they could not find in humans or the world.