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Rieke Busch-Quintero Dominguez

Frankenstein- Role of Nature


Edmund burke

Sublime nature

General information


General information

general information

  • gothic novel (science fiction)
  • set in europe
  • published in 1818
  • written by Mary shelley
  • period of romanticism -> nature as one of the most important themes in romanticism

sublime nature

sublime nature

  • sublime = of great excellence or beauty
  • sublime nature is one of the many themes in frankenstein
  • sublime nature is embraced by romanticism (late 18th centure - mid 19th century
  • offers characters a possibility of spiritual renewal
  • nature influences moods and reflects character's state of mind

edmund burke

  • famous book: "a philosophical enquiry into the origin of our ideas of the sublime and beautiful
  • about separating the beautiful and the sublime into their own respective rational categories
  • "the passion caused by the great and sublime in nature... is astonishment; and astonishment is that state of the soul, in which all its motions are suspended with some degree of horror."
  • beautiful things (small, smooth, elegant) - sublime things (large, coarse, powerful)

edmund burke

examples of nature in frankenstein


Robert walton

Victor frankenstein

  • 3 main characters that reflect/work around the natural world
-> frankenstein, walton, creature
  • they all reflect on sublime nature differently, based on how much they respect it
  • victor frankenstein disrespects nature by overstepping its limits through trying to create another form of human life
  • robert walton is neutral towards nature, he follows the same pursuit of nature but respects its limits as he sees it as dangerous
  • creature respects nature and admires it as it replaces frankensteins place as a guide

Victor at the peak of montanvert:- escape from his troubles to find peace - he reflects upon his astonishment for the grandeur of his natural surrounding: “From the side where I now stood Montanvert was exactly opposite, at the distance of a league; and above it rose Mont Blanc, in awful majesty. I remained in a recess of the rock, gazing on this wonderful and stupendous scene.” - this scene emphasizes how small humankind is compared to nature- his experience becomes muted as he views himself as superior or at least equal to nature: “My heart, which was before sorrowful, now swelled with something like joy; I exclaimed – ‘Wandering spirits, if indeed ye wander, and do not rest in your narrow beds, allow me this faint happiness, or take me, as your companion, away from the joys of life’.” - nature only has a temporary effect on him due to his personality

Beginning of walton's voyage - Letter to mrs. saville:- walton's astonishment regarding nature is mediocre as everything is "somewhat dangerous": “…we were nearly surrounded by ice, which closed in the ship on all sides, scarcely leaving her the sea room in which she floated. Our situation was somewhat dangerous, especially as we were compassed round by a very thick fog.”- he sees nature as an obstacle in his pursuit of knowledge but respects and fears its dangers -> doesn't cross the line

creatures heartbreak:- after having its heart broken by the delacey family, it's enraged and destroys the cottage- describes natural surroundings with astonishment for the power and support it gives it: “As the night advanced, a fierce wind arose from the woods…the blast tore along like a mighty avalanche, and produced a kind of insanity in my spirits…The wind fanned the fire, and the cottage was quickly enveloped by the flames which clung to it…” - the creature relies on nature to survive since it has no other guidance - it's astonished that the "mighty" wind helped with destroying the cottage -> message: if humans respect nature, it will help and aid them

why can't victor enjoy beautiful landscapes but needs sunlime landscapes?

Thank you for your attention!