The arctic setting that Mary Shelley uses in her novel, “Frankenstein”, after the monster escapes was essential in understanding the feelings of Victor’s monstrous creation. The arctic is known for its isolated conditions with intolerable weather. When Victor Frankenstein’s creation sees the rejected reactions from other living beings he escapes to the separate himself from mankind. The romantic period of when Mary Shelley wrote her novel escaping to isolated places such as the arctic, was known as a spiritual reunion. The arctic represented isolation and pain in Victor Frankenstein’s creation. Mary Shelley used the arctic setting to correlate the monsters internal feeling with its environment that surrounded him. She used the arctic to symbolize Victor’s creation as empty, unaided, isolated, and confused.
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The arctic is still considered to be an intolerable place where it is much harder to live especially in the monsters scenario. Mary Shelley describes the struggles the monster was dealing with in regards to other human beings. She writes “The whole village roused; some fled, some attacked me, until, grievously bruised by stones and many other kinds of missile weapons, I escaped to the open country, and fearfully took refuge” (70-71). The monster was dealing with external problems from the horrific reactions from the villagers. In addition to being abandoned by his creator the monster felt abandoned from all of mankind.
Mary Shelley used the arctic as the setting for where the monster fled after being created by Victor to indicate the maturation process of the monster and to give a deeper insight into his character. He was tortured by the reactions of the villagers and the seasonal process that nature goes through. In arctic conditions it becomes nearly impossible to live off of natural nutrients due to harsh temperatures. Victor’s creation explains, “Food, however became scarce, and I often spent the whole day searching in vain for a few acorns to assuage the pangs of hunger” (Shelley 70). This was a significant setting because the monster was clueless about his surroundings and the arctic created a deeper hole in his search for identity. In the article “Embodied Settings in Frankenstein” by David Ketterer, it explains that the arctic setting in Mary Shelley’s novel was used in a metaphoric way: “If the Alps and their Arctic setting analogue appear to be the monster’s natural habitat that is surely because his being is bound up with the awe and terror provoked by such environments” (Ketterer 548) Victor’s creation was a symbolism of the arctic. Mary Shelley used the arctic setting to represent the lonely soul of the creature. The arctic is lacking natural resources like the creature is lacking companionship.
The monster describes the painful experiences he encountered in the winter seasons while in search for dry land and shelter to protect him from the snow, or as he describes it, the “white ground”; Romanticists looked at spiritual renewal as getting away into an isolated environment, and Mary Shelley used that Arctic setting to show the renewal the monster endured. In the article “The Political Geography of horror in Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein” by Fred Randel, he writes “Mary Shelley inherited a usage of the Gothic that, in contrast with the expectations of many modern readers, fore grounded history and geography” (465). Mary Shelley showed Victor’s creations emotions when she wrote “A great fall of snow had taken place the night before and the fields were of one uniform white, the appearance disconsolate and I found my feet chilled by the cold damp substance that covered the ground” (70). Mary Shelley is showing the inscrutable feelings of the monster and how the arctic setting was essential to understand the renewal process of the monster. The monster feels the cold and bitter feelings that arctic is releasing.
The arctic was important for the character development of the monster. Mary Shelley shows his maturation process through the story the monster tells Victor. She describes his innocence to his surroundings and the struggles that accompanied these mysterious altercations of the seasons he endured. The famine of food created hardship for the monster while the actions of the villagers against him created unknown feelings of disorder. Mary Shelley used the arctic in a metaphoric way in representing the lonesome the monster felt. The arctic is usually deceived as an uncomfortable surrounding and Victor’s creation resorted to the arctic for the opposite, comfort. Mary Shelley used the arctic to metaphorically represent Victor’s creation. The monster was a lonesome soul lacking companionship just like that arctic lacks food and nutrients.
Ketterer, David. “Embodied Settings in Frankenstein.” Science Fiction Studies 32.3 (2005) : 548. JSTOR. Web. 28 Feb. 2010. http://www.jstor.org/stable/4241397
Randel, Fred. “The Political Geography of Horror In Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein.” ELH 70.2 2003 : 465-491. JSTOR. Web. 28 Feb. 2010 http://www.jstor.org/stable/30029885
Shelley, Mary. Frankenstein. New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 1996. Print.
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