Mary Shelley’s novel “Frankenstein” is heavily influenced by romantic themes that present themselves throughout the text. Pressures brought on by the industrial revolution set in motion many significant changes to civilization at that time and created the movement know as romanticism. These social and political issues of the time in which the story was written played a large part in the overall subject matter. Environmental changes brought on by large populations congregating in cities with unhealthy living conditions along with the destruction of natural habitat led to disenchantment with the modern age.
People began to revere nature and viewed it as the zenith of existence, whereas previously establishments such as religion or government were seen as the pinnacles of society. Victor signifies the views prevalent during the industrial revolution on life, wherein he sees only value of what he is to create, and does not take into consideration the unnatural implications. He is obsessed with accumulating knowledge of natural philosophy and lives a life isolated and alone as he grapples with the intricacies of his endeavor. But that is only so he can use it to surpass the boundaries of the natural world.
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He views life with a purely scientific perspective, which is counter intuitive to romantic principles. This leads to all of the sorrow which he experiences throughout the tale and is a lesson on the dangers of such values. The explorer Walton, whom Victor is attempting to dissuade from attempts at surpassing human limits, is himself on an expedition to try and conquer nature. Although he too will find that he is unable to triumph over the limitations God has set forth. The very monster Victor creates is a representation of romantic ideology early in the story, being able to live peacefully in nature and revel in all that he observes.
But the monster soon regresses into a dark, gothic creature based on his interactions with human kind and the harsh treatment and situations he is exposed to. The monster eventually vows a vendetta on all of mankind and is representative of the harm that can come about through the creation of such an unnatural thing. The natural surroundings of the characters often plays a large role in their state of mind and overall mental well being. Victor uses the picturesque landscape of the mountains to try and escape the agony in which he is living following the murder of his brother and execution of his falsely accused iller. The monster relates to Victor many of his experiences while living in the wilderness with awe and pleasure. The proclamation that the monster makes about living in the wilds of South America with no one but his female counterpart shows that all he needs or desires can be found outside of civilized society. Shelley ultimately has a distaste of all things that are not in accord with the natural workings of our world and this view is apparent throughout her story “Frankenstein”. It appears that she places far more value on inter-personal relationships than on the pursuit of absolute knowledge.